Paul Dilkes


How long have you been a member of the BPO?
I joined the BPO when I left school at the age of 18 in 1975. With unbroken service that means I am in my 36th season with the BPO. I also served as its Honorary Treasurer for six years. I remember that I came to what would have been the last rehearsal in the 1974/75 season and was invited to return in the September of 1975 to see whether the BPO was going to be right for me.

What inspired you to take up your instrument?
When I was at secondary school, I really wanted to play the classical guitar. However, my school was able to offer lessons on most instruments, but not the guitar! Then in year 2, it was suggested that I could be provided with a violin and have lessons so that is what I did and the rest is history so to speak!

How did you come to join the orchestra?
I was determined to continue with my music after leaving school and with my school having been strong on Orchestral studies, I decided that Orchestral music was what I wanted to do and I needed to look for a decent Orchestra to join. The brass teacher at school happened to know the BPO principal trumpet in those days (John Ruddick – now sadly no longer with us) and he made the introduction.

Most treasured occasion with the BPO?
Having been a member of the Orchestra for 35 years, I have several but if have to narrow it down to one then it has to be the series of events that celebrated his silver jubilee as Musical Director of our then Conductor Kenneth Page (again sadly no longer with us). This series of events was particularly memorable because I was closely involved in the administrative arrangements, raising sponsorship for the culmination of the celebration and frankly, my most memorable event with the BPO, our performance of Mahler Symphony No 8 (The Symphony of a Thousand) at The Royal Albert Hall in London in 1984. In the run up to that concert we had also performed the work at The Great Hall Aston University and appeared on BBC television.

Any moments you’d rather forget?

Two occasions when we were left without a conductor; once when Kenneth Page left suddenly and we were due to perform at Cheltenham Town Hall; and secondly when we were playing at Ledbury and due to illness we had to find a conductor at short notice. I also don’t miss playing in cramped and cold churches which seemed to be so much a feature of my early days in the Orchestra – one particular concert at the Birmingham Oratory with Julian Lloyd Webber playing the Elgar was the coldest concert I ever remember.

Favourite composer?

Least favourite composer?


Work(s) you’d like to play before you die?
During my time with the Orchestra I feel that I have already played so many works that many a professional musician will not have had the opportunity to play so I would prefer to answer the question by saying that I would like to have the opportunity of doing some television work playing as part of a backing group for example. I would also like to go to a Concert given by the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra – I would have liked to have seen a concert conducted by Herbert von Karajan.

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