The Scotsman Sessions #123: Abigail Young and Balázs Renczés

Welcome to The Scotsman Sessions. With performing arts activity curtailed for the foreseeable future, we are commissioning a series of short video performances from artists all around the country and releasing them on, with introductions from our critics. Here, Abigail Young and Balázs Renczés, playing together as Myst, perform Coorie In, a new traditional tune written by Young during the depths of lockdown

It’s a tough time for freelance musicians, as we know – particularly for those just beginning their careers. Violinist Abigail Young and cellist Balázs Renczés are in precisely that position, having studied together at Glasgow’s Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and graduated last summer, and with performances as part of orchestras in Scotland and beyond now cancelled. “I’ve actually been working for about three years with almost all the Scottish orchestras,” Young explains. “Before lockdown, it was hard to find a day off. Now obviously all of that has been wiped out. It’s a very scary time. It’s not easy for young professionals to get anywhere in the industry at the best of times, but to have managed to start building up work, and to have had it all taken away – that’s tough.”

Partly by chance, Young and Renczés have formed a social bubble and a new musical partnership, with the aim of generating both musical work and income for themselves. “We studied together in the same year at the RCS,” Renczés explains, “and we’re in other music ensembles together, so we knew each other well already. I had to move out of my previous flat because of the financial strains…”

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“… and the flat across the hall from me became free,” Young continues. “So Balász moved in. We’re almost like flatmates now.”

That new proximity has provided not only social support – both had been on their own earlier in lockdown – but also musical possibilities. They’ve established a new duo, Myst, and are putting videos of their music online weekly.

“We’re asking for donations because we don’t have any proper income at the moment,” Renczés explains, “but it’s also a case of mentally having something to do, because not having work becomes crazy after a while.”

“We’ve basically ended up giving ourselves full-time jobs,” says Young, “even if we’re not getting paid for it yet.”

Their first video features Coorie In, a new traditional tune written by Young during the depths of lockdown. “It’s the equivalent of the Scandinavian idea of hygge – basically to settle in, cozy in, feel at home. It felt like the perfect title for that tune at the moment.”

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