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Violinist Justine Watts, Concertmaster of the Scottish Ballet Orchestra, has Died

Watts was the Scottish Ballet Orchestra's longest-serving concertmaster, and continued to lead the ensemble during her illness


Violinist Justine Watts, the longest-serving concertmaster of the Scottish Ballet Orchestra (SBO), has sadly passed away after a five-year illness. She became the orchestra's concertmaster in 2001 and continued to play throughout her health difficulties, leading the orchestra on several tours.

Born into a musical family, Watts studied at the Royal Academy of Music (where she won the Principal’s Prize, the Beare Prize, and the Manson Prize) and then at Rice University with Sergiu Luca.

Over the course of her career, she was the associate leader of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, as well as guest leader of the Ulster Orchestra and Scottish Opera. She also appeared in the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, the Hallé, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Welsh National Opera, and the Scottish Ensemble.

During her tenure at the SBO, Watts was renowned for mentoring younger players and was particularly praised for the way she fostered camaraderie within the orchestra. She was also credited with strengthening the connections between the orchestra and the dancers of the ballet.

Watts is survived by her husband Ewen and their three sons. Our condolences to her family, friends, and colleagues.

"It is with deep sadness that we share that Justine Watts, our colleague, friend and leader of the Scottish Ballet Orchestra, passed away peacefully at the weekend, surrounded by her immediate family," wrote the Scottish Ballet Orchestra on social media.

"Justine was an inspiration to all who worked with her. Her enthusiasm, fun and good humour were infectious. She will be greatly missed by all whose paths she crossed."

Our condolences to Mrs. Watts' family, friends, and colleagues.

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