Polly Virr is a freelance cellist based in the UK with a passion for exploring the genre-bending versatilities of the cello. She enjoys a dynamic and varied schedule working as a session cellist, improviser, orchestral cellist, composer, workshop facilitator, educator and mentor.
Polly works with artists including Bill Laurance, James, Everything Everything, Johnny Marr, Lottery Winners, Slow Readers Club, Charlatans, The Lathums, Cara Dillon, Strawberry Guy and is a long-standing member of The Untold Orchestra, Kaleidoscope Orchestra, Northern Session Collective, as well as working as part of Sinfonia Cymru and Joe Duddell’s Ensemble.
"After playing the same night at a gig in London, I got hold of Polly's details and shot her a few original demos; she very quickly not only provided us with some quality recordings, but also became a part of our musical family! She really puts her heart and soul into each song and nothing is too much of an ask and I'm very glad to be able to collaborate with such an invested artist!"
Kaine Francesco - Singer/songwriter
When she’s not performing live, Polly can be found in the recording studio where she offers the rich, mellow sound of her 240 year old English cello (Benjamin Banks). Polly has a unique ability to improvise limitless string parts in a wide variety of musical genres and she loves being part of the creative process, as well as realising and adding her own flair to pre-written scores. Polly works regularly with library music companies including WMP and Amity Music. She most notably recorded a full sample pack Cello Untamed for Westwood Instruments, with whom she has an ongoing collaborative relationship.
For a full list of Polly’s recording credits, click here!
Polly's passion for experimenting & improvising on the cello, paired with her instinctive musical ear and love of listening to many different styles enables her to adapt and collaborate with musicians from a wide variety of genres and has led to both in studio and remote sessions across the globe. In 2016, she travelled to The Banff Centre, Canada, where she worked as a musician in residence, collaborating with other musicians and writing her own music. It was here that she demonstrated her love for lending her improvisational skills to the music of singer/songwriters, stepping up to play live on songs she was hearing for the first time. This now forms an integral part of Polly’s career as a versatile cellist, working regularly both live and in the studio with original artists including Toria Wooff, Justine Vandergrift, Ryan Buxton, Caitlin LM, Joy Becker and Kirsty Almeida.
Polly composes and performs her own music for multi-tracked cello and electronics, with notable performances including Aldeburgh Festival, Band on the Wall, Matt & Phred’s, Just So Festival, Lancaster Jazz Festival and Hope Fest. Polly supported Manchester Collective on their Heavy Metal tour in 2021 and the explosive horn and percussion trio Moon Hooch on the UK leg of their tour at Band on the Wall in 2019. She released her first solo EP in December 2023 - you can listen here! Further to Polly’s solo project, she composes and records music for TV and Film, creating albums of multi-tracked cello trailer music for Exodus Music, a music production company based in LA and the UK. Click here to have a listen!
Polly’s infectious enthusiasm for encouraging musical creativity from a young age has led to workshop facilitation with a strong focus on improvisation and creative composition, often using her loop pedal. Polly frequently delivers workshops for participants from babies through to adults for Opera North, Aldeburgh Young Musicians, Concerteenies, MiSST, Royal Exchange Theatre, Sheffield Music Hub, Peak District Music Service, AmaSing, Leicester Music Service and various individual schools.
"Polly is one of the finest music educators I have ever met. She is creative, kind and empathetic, equally able to inspire individual students and engage large groups in a variety of exciting musical activities. Her orchestral arrangements for young musicians are second to none. She is a greatly valued member of the OMF teaching team and well-loved member of our community"
Dr Jo Yee Cheung, Chief Executive of OMF
Polly also works as a Music for Health Practitioner, taking live music onto the wards of Manchester Children’s hospital, making music with patients, staff and families with Songbirds Music UK. As a teacher, Polly has worked as a music tutor on both Opera North and Liverpool Philharmonic’s In Harmony programmes. Polly currently works with Olympias Music Foundation, teaching cello to individuals and small groups of children and young people in Manchester.