How long have you been a member of the BPO?
I’ve been playing with the BPO since September 2000.
What inspired you to take up your instrument?
When I was at junior school, the local senior school brass band came in to perform a concert and demonstrate their instruments. I was given a chance to try the tenor horn as part of the demonstration so I decided that I wanted to take up the tenor horn … however my grandfather, who was also a keen musician, persuaded me that the French Horn was a far more versatile instrument to play. Hence I took up the Horn when I started at senior school at the age of 11.
How did you come to join the orchestra?
I grew up in Birmingham but moved away after University. When I returned to Birmingham in early 2000 I was looking for opportunities to play orchestral music – I joined a group called the Sandwell Sinfonia where I met Chris Collet (BPO’s 4th Horn player). At that time BPO were just about to play Mahler’s 5th Symphony which has
6 horn parts – Chris invited me along to play the 5th horn part and I’ve been playing with the group ever since.
Most treasured occasion with the BPO?
Well there have been lots of great occasions; playing Mahler’s 2nd, 5th and 9th Symphonies were all great experiences, Respighi’s Pines of Rome – what a fantastic sound in particular in the last movement; being called in to play first horn in Walton’s 1st Symphony at the last minute was edge of the seat stuff; playing the Eroica on
hand horns – that must be a BPO first; being part of a fantastic group horn sound in Ein Heldenleben. But I think that the one that tops it is playing the crazy horn solo in Janá?ek’s Sinfonietta – you’ve just got to go for it, but it’s a great feeling when it comes off!
Any moments you’d rather forget?
That’s a tricky one – the only one that comes to mind is a rather prominent split of mine in Mahler 9. The split was on a pretty high note (top B) with a lot of attack and I had played is really well in the rehearsals. Unfortunately in the concert I tried to give a bit too much attack, the consequence being an extremely obvious split! I suppose that the good thing about concerts is that any splits can be quite quickly forgotten as the music moves on rapidly – that wasn’t the case with this particular split as I found out to my surprise when it
was played on Radio 3 as part of the Amateur Orchestra Showcase broadcast in 2006! Unfortunately it can still be heard on this website …
I do enjoy lot of different types of music, but I would have to favour late 19th/early 20th Century Symphonic works, in particular those by Richard Strauss and Mahler – they do write great horn parts too!
Least favourite composer?
I must say that I’m not a big fan of Shostakovich, which is a probably a bit surprising given that we brass players like to play loud music! I tend to find that his music can be too binary; long passages of loud sounds followed by long passages of quiet music. I do tend to judge music by the quality of the horn parts and all too often in Shostakovich the horn players are sitting around waiting for either a loud section or a tricky, exposed solo!
Work(s) you’d like to play before you die?
There are two works that I would like to play and in fact BPO has played both of them relatively recently. I’ve played Richard Strauss’ Ein Heldenleben a couple of times but never on 1st horn which I would love to do. I think that Mahler’s 7th Symphony is a fantastic work with a truly fascinating sound palette and such extraordinary tonal shifts – it would be great to be part of a performance of that Symphony in the future.
The Orchestra <<<