Henley Life February 2019 - page 11

Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
resident at The Hexagon, Reading
Impressario Sir Thomas Beecham formed the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in 1946 as his
‘swan song’ after the secondWorldWar – his vision was for a ‘Super Orchestra.’ It has grown in
strength and might; becoming one of the biggest and most listened to orchestras in the UK.
Although based in London, last year they played in 150 concerts all over the world.
Following discussion with regional councils the RPO now has seven ‘residencies’ around the
UK. One of these is at The Hexagon, Reading where the orchestra performs four concerts a
“From a performance perspective The Hexagon has an excellent stage block so you can fit an
orchestra on the stage there,” said James Williams, the Managing Director of the RPO. “From
the audience perspective it feels very intimate in the hall in Reading, in the balcony you get
the most fantastic view of the orchestra when its performing and that is really exhilarating for
the audience member. “
The Residency of the RPO at Reading is a comprehensive and integrated community
programme that sees the orchestra on a much more regular basis. In explaining the mutual
benefits James said:
“Its more about how the RPO can contribute to the wider cultural fabric of a town or city. So
we don’t see ourselves as just coming in, giving great performances and leaving, but actually
how we can be a catalyst to support great music making across the area in all its form and
To that end, although the RPO recognises the importance of their loyal audience in the
Reading area, they are working to extend
their reach. For a start there is a Test Drive
Classical ticket (£12) for first time classical
concert goers. Then on March 9 the RPO will
be holding a
Noisy Kids
morning concert for
young audience members and their families
Heroes and Villians.
This is a ‘perfectly designed’, presented
concert including music from Star Wars,
Jurassic Park and Romeo and Juliet. That
evening’s concert is conducted by the guest,
female conductor, Anu Tali , with Jennifer
Pike (the violinist who won the BBC’s Young
Musician of the Year in 2002 at the age of 12)
as the guest soloist.
Box Office: 0118 960 6060. Download the
full 2018/2019 brochure and book online
Ticket prices shown are inclusive of booking fee.
From the Musician’s Perspective:
Phil Woods
1st French Horn
Phil has been playing the French Horn since
he was nine years old, but as a professional
musician for the past 29 years. And he is at
the pinnacle of his career as a permanent
member of the Royal Philharmonic
Orchestra for the past 15 years.
Not bad for a young horn player from
Crowthorne whose careers adviser at
Edgebarrow School was only able to point
him in the direction of the Armed Forces
when he said he would like to play music
He now plays the RPOs full repertoire
around the country and will be performing
back in his home concert hall this year; the
Phil has been playing in the famous
performance space since he was 11 years
old when he was in the Berkshire Youth
Orchestra. Coincidentally, the RPO’s 2nd
Horn Player, Kathryn Saunders, was also a
member of the Berkshire Youth Orchestra,
and was at the Holt School in Wokingham.
“I have been playing in it since I was 11, I
am used to it, a lot of people say its quite
dry, but it is good to have the audience
behind you, so you get a different view of
what you might expect, in terms of sound
and dynamic.” said Phil, who advises anyone
wanting to get more of the brass sound
should sit behind them.
Phil loves the variety in his job, whether it is
jumping in a car full of musicians and taking
their music around the country or working
with SEN schools in Reading as part of the
“I do a lot of education work for the RPO,
we also work with Berkshire music
education department,” said Phil, “And we do
Relaxed concerts, for people you wouldn’t
expect to go to concerts and children’s
concerts which are good fun.”
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