Ann Binks in the church choirElizabeth Binks was once asked at interview what had been her most important early musical influence, and the answer she gave was that she remembers walking into school assembly and hearing the music teacher, Mr Gear, playing J S Bach’s Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring on the piano (very beautifully). Later, the second big influence was her first job at Scottish Opera, working under that very musical conductor, Sir Alexander Gibson.
After a spell at school, aged six, learning recorder, Elizabeth joined a church choir where she spent several years as a member, singing for services, weddings and other events. There were opportunities to sing solos in Christmas and Easter events, under the choirmaster and organist Tony McClenan-Young.
Violin lessons at school came after Elizabeth left the choir, and these led to a scholarship to study as a junior at Guildhall, and opportunities to play with the London Schools Symphony Orchestra (LSSO), the London Youth Chamber Orchestra (LYCO) and the London Youth String Ensemble (LYSE) under Peter Fletcher and Fred Applewhite, before attending the Guildhall School of Music as a full-time student.
Elizabeth had opportunities to attend LSO rehearsals and concerts at the invitation of her uncle, Max Burwood, who was a principal viola player and a member of the orchestra’s board of directors. Burwood encouraged Elizabeth to explore her talents in every way.