Gillian Whiting


How long have you been a member of the BPO?
I have been a member of the orchestra since 1978.

What inspired you to take up your instrument?
Whilst in junior school, several members of the recorder group, including myself, were invited to join a new music teacher for an impromptu lesson. We entered a small room to find a lady wrapped around a large instrument, and as she played she produced a rich sonorous tone that touched my heart. At the age of nine, a ‘cello was the biggest instrument that some of us had ever seen. Picture the look of surprise on my mothers’ face as I walked down the school drive that evening proudly brandishing a new instrument that was to become a big part of my life.

How did you come to join the orchestra?
I was a member of the Midland Youth Orchestra (now CBSO Youth Orchestra) and was invited to join by the lead cellist of BPO at that time as she had seen me performing in the MYO concerts.

Most treasured occasion with the BPO?
Over more than thirty-two seasons spent with the BPO there are so many, but three that stand out include the visit to the Royal Albert Hall in March 1984 to perform Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 (Symphony of a Thousand), and the BPO’s 60th anniversary concert held at the Adrian Boult Hall in March 2002 where I was responsible for the organisation of the celebrations that included an after concert gathering for members past and present. The third occasion was a concert at Warwick Arts Centre in 1987 where a cellist (who just happened to be my sister) accidentally released the grip on her bow during Mahler’s 5th symphony, and it went flying out into the audience, reaching as far as the fourth row. It was quickly and carefully returned by those who had narrowly escaped injury and the ‘cello section struggled to suppress fits of laughter. Not to be excluded, just moments later (and to the great amusement of the audience), the conductor involuntarily launched his baton into orbit and it came to rest in the middle of the woodwind section. It appeared that no seat was safe that evening.

Any moments you’d rather forget?
I have forgotten them!

Favourite composer?
I have several favourite composers, but Schubert’s String Quintet in C has to be my
life-long favourite work.

Least favourite composer?
My least favourite composer at the moment is Vaughan Williams.

Work(s) you’d like to play before you die?
I’m always pleased to be introduced to new repertoire as I feel that you should play a piece before you can have an informed opinion, so in that respect my answer would be ‘everything’. However, Villa-Lobos: Bachianas Brasileiras Nos. 1, 2, 5 and 9 would be a special request together with an opportunity to participate in a workshop with the Vienna Philharmonic to understand how Viennese music really should be played.

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