The RPS conversation - Orchestras

In the final instalment of The RPS Conversation the RPS speak to the UK’s constellation of orchestras about how the pandemic has affected them.

What happened when orchestral players, so used to playing together and seeing their audience regularly, suddenly found themselves separated from their musical soulmates in isolation? Can an orchestra still be an orchestra in such circumstances? How did they have to adapt, and what did they find themselves doing they may not have imagined before? The RPS ask how orchestras might find their way back to what they did before, or if the lockdown may have inspired and compelled them to chart some new directions…

Introduced by RPS Chief Executive James Murphy, the conversation brings together players from orchestras based in England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales:

  • Janet Fulton, Principal Percussionist, Manchester Camerata
  • Su-a Lee, Co-Principal Cello, Scottish Chamber Orchestra
  • Greg Topping, Bassoonist, Ulster Orchestra
  • Daniel Trodden Principal Tuba, BBC National Orchestra of Wales

In the conversation, Janet – who has always volunteered as a Community First Responder for the Yorkshire Ambulance Service, and done even more for the NHS in lockdown – says:

‘The thing is, with music, people say it’s a gift … but it’s a gift to be given, to be shared. At first in lockdown, I wasn’t able to do anything other than the NHS work … I was out working six days a week for the first three months, but now my musical, creative side has started to come back and I’m in talks with Yorkshire Ambulance about doing some kind of rhythmic work, drawing on Latin-type rhythms, even using pots and pans. The NHS is realising how important music and the arts are, and the big issue to come now – as well people’s physical health – will be their mental health. Music is a language, it speaks to your inner-most being, right inside each individual. So this is our role now: as orchestral members, as musicians, to help healing, to be there for people. Now is the time for us to enable as many people as possible to use music for their own personal wellbeing and for communities to bring people back together.’

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