Monday, 13 October 2014

Work Experience at the RSNO

Work Experience at the RSNO

Every year, our school gives S4s [fourth-year pupils] a week of work experience to go wherever we want. I chose to go to the RSNO because I am very interested in carrying music into my career and I wanted to have a taster of what it would be like. The first day I came in, the staff were extremely welcoming and nice, they gave me a tour of the building and I met all the staff. I then settled down into a computer and started with some tasks that needed completing which involved making spreadsheets, typing up information and doing errands. This was definitely a new experience for me, working long hours and in a desk the whole day.

The second day I came in, I settled into preparing booklets for going out into schools which took up most of my morning but it paid off as I was allowed to have a large lunch break. In the afternoon, I carried on with this task then once I had finally finished I started preparing and checking flutes and clarinets that were going to be used in a workshop later that week. This is an essential job, if one instrument has a missing part then it means it can’t be used and one person is missing out on using it. The highlight of my day was looking at all the instruments, as I don’t play the clarinet or flute it was nice to get a close up look at them and see how they work.

The third day I was invited to go and watch the orchestra play as it was one of their rehearsal days. I got to watch them the whole morning and it was amazing to watch them rehearse and hear them play and hear how the conductor interprets the pieces, how it affects the orchestra’s playing. I could have watched them the whole day, but I had other jobs to complete! The afternoon was kept very busy, I cleaned the trombones which sounds really boring, but was actually a lot of fun surprisingly. I then scanned a folder full of important pages which needed to be completed very quickly, and then I worked out how to ‘bind’ music booklets together so I wasn’t in my desk the whole day! The highlight of my day was without a doubt watching the orchestra rehearse; you don’t see it every day!

The fourth day I was invited to assist a workshop in Perth which was a great opportunity. Katherine Wren, who is a member of the orchestra, was running a viola workshop in the Concert Hall in Perth. The students who came were Grade 4/5 violin players but were very interested in playing the viola as well. As a keen violin player myself, this would have been a great opportunity to go to which I would definitely have signed up for if I had the chance. It was great to watch them learn a new instrument as the viola produced a lovely sound. The Perth Concert Hall is an amazing building which I looked around for a while; when the workshop finished, Katherine then popped off to a rehearsal for a concert with the RSNO which she was playing in that evening. The highlight of my day was definitely seeing Perth which is a very pretty place and being at the Perth Concert Hall which is an amazing building and being out of the office was fun as well.

This is the last day and I am writing up this blog post and then I am going to carry on with some documents which I didn’t finish on Wednesday. The highlight of my week was definitely watching the orchestra and also going to Perth. I am really glad that I chose the RSNO to do my work experience with as it is a great place to do your work experience if you are wanting to do your career in music and hopefully this won’t be the last time I see the RSNO as I look forward to coming back here and doing lots of their courses.

by Alison Hedley, Gryffe High School

Friday, 10 October 2014

Sitting in the balcony with Elgar

Sitting in the balcony with Elgar

Listening to a professional orchestra rehearse is a privilege that not very many people get to experience, but every so often I like to take some time away from my desk in the RSNO's office and nip up to the balcony of the Henry Wood Hall to sit and listen to the Orchestra as they prepare for the coming weekend's concerts.  Having studied music myself, it is an experience that is not wholly unfamiliar, but the way that this band works with Peter Oundjian is simply mesmerising and my trips up to the balcony serve as a perfect reminder of why I do the job I do - spreading the word about the wonderful music that the RSNO produces each week in concert halls across Scotland.

These first couple of weeks of our new Season are ever so slightly different this year as our first couple of soloists are not being flown in from the international touring circuit, instead the spotlight is shining within our own ranks. Last week we had the truly stunning 5-star performances from our Principal Flautist Kathryn Bryan who played to audiences in Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow as we opened our 2014:15 Season.

This week is the turn of our Principal Cellist, Aleksei Kiseliov, who joined the Orchestra in September 2011, and he will be playing Elgar's immensely popular Cello Concerto.

I got in touch with the wonderful people at Elgar's Birthplace Museum and Visitor Centre, who were very kind in giving us access to some incredibly interesting information and resources relating to the various works by Elgar that the Orchestra will be performing throughout the Season. On my trip up to the balcony on Wednesday I felt like I'd been joined by a bit of history; whilst Aleksei was playing I had in my hand the facsimile of the piano score of the Cello Concerto, written in Elgar's own hand for his young friend, Alice Stuart Wortley (see below).


I've always loved following scores whilst listening to music, but there really is something about seeing the original handwritten version of a theme... makes the music more real somehow, more alive.

Another quite extraordinary thing is to hear the music whilst looking at photographs of not only of Elgar with the gent who gave the premiere of the Cello Concerto, but also of the very house in which it was composed. That kind of insight into Elgar's surroundings just adds another dimension to the music.

Brinkwells Cottage, in Fittleworth, Sussex, where Elgar wrote his Cello Concerto.

Edward Elgar with Felix Salmond (left) who gave the premiere of his Cello Concerto.

Shortly after the above photo was taken, Elgar wrote to his friend Sidney Colvin (one of the dedicatees of the concerto) to report on how it was coming along:
"Felix Salmond has been down here & we have put the finishing touches to your cello concerto & it will be produced at a London SymphOrch. Concert before Christmas. Date to be fixed but I will let you hear it the earliest."
I'm also pleased to report that Wednesday's rehearsal with Aleksei and the RSNO went much better than the one the gentlemen above had before the Cello Concerto's premiere.  As Elgar's wife Alice noted in her diary on the 27th October 2019: 
"E. & A. & C. to Queen's Hall for rehearsal at 12.30 or rather before - absolutely inadequate at that - That brute, Coates went on rehearsing 'Waldweben' Secy. remonstrated, no use, at last just before one, he stopped & the men like Angels stayed till 1.30 - A. wanted E. to withdraw, but he did not for Felix S.’s sake - Indifferent performance of course in consequence E. had a tremendous reception & ovation -"
On the subject of tremendous receptions and ovations, I have no doubt that you'll be part of one soon should you be lucky enough to have secured a ticket for one of this weekend's concerts!

If you don't have a ticket yet, there are only a few still available, so hurry! Book online at www.rsno.org.uk/whatson

Until the next time...

Cat

The photos, manuscripts and transcripts included in this blog were kindly provided courtesy of The Elgar Birthplace MuseumThe photos, manuscripts and transcripts included in this blog were kindly provided courtesy of The Elgar Birthplace Museum. 


Monday, 14 April 2014

Young Ambassadors Forum #4: Natalie Brayshaw

One of the Highlands' Young Ambassadors, Natalie Brayshaw, describes the 4th Young Ambassadors Forum and Vaughan Williams' 5th on Fri 4 April 2014, at Eden Court, Inverness.


Friday 4th April saw the fourth of this season’s Young Ambassador forums, in Inverness. We met at Eden Court (in Inverness). This venue was particularly appropriate due to the fact that it was the final celebration week of the RSNO’s Highland Residency. Because to this, the forum took a slightly different format from the others: this time, it involved the Young Ambassadors preparing questions which three of us would later direct at two RSNO musicians in the pre-show talk. After having decided on some questions ranging from “What do you like about the Highlands?” to “Is the bassoon undergoing a revival?” and everything in between, we met the musicians: principal bassoon David Hubbard, and cellist Ruth Rowlands, who were more than happy to answer them. Both have been involved in the Highland Residency, and I recognised David from his involvement in the Highland Schools Wind Band, which I’m a member of.

After the talk, it was straight into another fantastic concert. It started with Neilsen’s stirring Helios overture, whose melody simply tells the story of a day – from sunrise to sunset. Though I’d heard the piece before, I’d never actually seen it performed, so it was a wonderful experience which really brought the music alive.

Next came Stravinsky’s Pulcinella Suite, which was fantastic: commencing with the warm and lively Sinfonta (Overture) before progressing through a number of equally interesting movements. I particularly enjoyed Gavotta because of the prominent wind section, and the humorous Vivo evoked a good reaction from the audience. I absolutely loved this piece.  

After a short interval, we returned for the famous Vaughn Williams’ Symphony No.5. The audience was captivated from start to finish, and the piece was a fantastic way to end ean already brilliant evening. I look forward to the next forum!

Natalie Brayshaw

Natalie is part of the RSNO's Young Ambassador scheme, arranged by the Learning and Engagement Department. All views expressed by Young Ambassadors belong to those of the individual and are not representative of the organisation. For more information, visit the RSNO website.

Share your reviews on any of our concerts on Twitter @RSNO
Under 16? Get Free tickets for Under 16. Find out more here.

Young Ambassadors at the Big Highland Residency : Natalie Brayshaw


One of the Highlands' Young Ambassadors, Natalie Brayshaw, describes the final event of RSNO's Big Highland Residency, RSNO Collaborate on Sat 5 April 2014 at Eden Court, Inverness




On Saturday 5th,  Eden Court hosted RSNO Collaborate, an event which invited amateur instrumentalists and singers - young and old - of grade 4 standard and above to play alongside the orchestra in a concert following a day of intensive rehearsals. When I first heard about this opportunity, I couldn’t wait to sign up, and I’m so glad that I did. The day began when, at 10am, we all gathered in the Empire Theatre for a vocal warm up – instrumentalists and singers alike – which introduced us to the fun, informal nature of the day.

Then, we split into our instrumental groups for sectionals. The flute sectional (which I attended) was held by Andrea Kuypers, who some of us had seen playing both flute and piccolo in the orchestra the night before. We began by running through the pieces we would be playing: a variety of Scots Traditional songs including Johnnie Cope and Will Ye No Come Back Again, and Sing by Gary Barlow and Andrew Lloyd Webber. Some of the group also performed extracts from Vivaldi’s Gloria, in which woodwind are not required. This session, was very useful, and interesting in terms of flute technique. We then went into slightly larger groups, with woodwind all being led by principal bassoon, David Hubbard. After playing through and getting a general feel for the pieces, we had a break for lunch. During this, there was a performance by RSNO’s Baroque ensemble in the local hall which participants had the opportunity to attend.

After lunch, the whole orchestra and choir came together for a rehearsal. Sitting on the stage and playing alongside such a large group of both amateurs and RSNO musicians was fantastic, and it was great to have the opportunity to get advice from the professionals. When the woodwind were no longer required, some of us sat and watched rehearsals of Vivaldi’s Gloria, before the flutes met up with Andrea again, this time for a workshop based not on the pieces, but on flute technique. I already knew two other flautists from Highland Young Musician regional groups, and it was great to meet the others. We did a variety of exercises, mainly focussing on good breath control which affects a variety of other things such as tone.

Finally, it was time for the concert. A lot of the audience were friends and family members of performers, and the concert – like the rest of the day –was fairly informal. By the time it came to perform, it felt like we’d been rehearsing a lot more than the actual grand total of around 5 hours! The concert went very well, and it was wonderful for all of us to be able to say we had the opportunity to play/sing alongside the RSNO. The whole day was absolutely brilliant, and the perfect conclusion to the RSNO’s Highland Residency. 

Natalie Brayshaw

Natalie is part of the RSNO's Young Ambassador scheme, arranged by the Learning and Engagement Department. All views expressed by Young Ambassadors belong to those of the individual and are not representative of the organisation. For more information, visit the RSNO website.

Share your reviews on any of our concerts on Twitter @RSNO
Under 16? Get Free tickets for Under 16. Find out more here.

Young Ambassadors at the Big Highland Residency: Elizabeth Barke

One of the Highlands' Young Ambassadors, Elizabeth Barke reviews RSNO's Big Highland Residency




Every year the RSNO holds a residency in Scotland and this year it was held in the Highlands. Overall the residency ran for 9 months with lots of different concerts and activities for all ages.

My involvement with the Big highland residency started in September when the members of the RSNO came to the highland regional youth orchestra rehearsals and worked with us for our programme for November. Working along side members of the RSNO was great as we could see how they tackled a piece of music and they gave us loads of useful tips. I was working with Janet Richardson the principle piccolo of the RSNO. This was great for me as I only recently started the piccolo so it was very inspirational to see the piccolo being played to that standard. The musicians from the RSNO then can back later on in the year to help us with a our March programme.

As part of the big highland residency the RSNO held workshops in highland schools. I was lucky to attend an improvisation workshop with my school's big band. The workshop was taken by the principle trombone player Dávur Juul Magnussen. It was such a great experience for myself and the rest of the band. We learnt to react off each others improvisation and really work well together as a band. I also hope to be attending a conducting workshop with Jean Claude Picard run by the RSNO in the near future.

As well as these workshops in schools, the RSNO held more activities for all ages such as a tea dance in Kingussie and a singing project with boys in primary 7 and secondary 1.

To end the Big Highland Residency the RSNO were in concert on the 4rth of April with a spectacular performance of Vaughan Williams Fifth symphony alongside Berlioz Helios overture and Stravinsky's ballet music Pulcinella. I was lucky enough to interview cellist Ruth Rowlands and bassoonist David Hubbard as part of the pre-concert talk. Myself and two other young ambassadors were able to ask them about their experience of the highland residency and also general questions about being in the RSNO. After we had asked them our questions they then went on to ask us questions about being young ambassadors and our involvement in the Big Highland Residency. I really enjoyed the concert and it was also great to spend some time with the other young ambassadors.

The next day was a collaboration "come sing, come play" day with the RSNO this was a chance for musicians to play and sing alongside the RSNO. The day was run through workshops in sections run by members of the RSNO. At midday the RSNO baroque ensemble performed in Inverness town house. At the end of the day there was a performance of the collaboration day work of Vivaldi's Gloria, Sing by Gary Barlow and Andrew Lloyd Webber and some traditional songs Johnnie Cope and Will Ye No Come Back Again.

The Big Highland Residency 2014 has been a wonderful success  engaging more people in classical music and giving wonderful experiences to people of all ages including myself. 

Elizabeth Barke

Elizabeth is part of the RSNO's Young Ambassador scheme, arranged by the Learning and Engagement Department. All views expressed by Young Ambassadors belong to those of the individual and are not representative of the organisation. For more information, visit the RSNO website.

Share your reviews on any of our concerts on Twitter @RSNO
Under 16? Get Free tickets for Under 16. Find out more here.

Young Ambassador Review: Turangalila

One of the Glasgow Young Ambassadors, Luke Maher, describes Turangalila in Glasgow Royal Concert Hall on Sat 15 March 2014

Turangalila was a piece that I never thought I would be able to like. I had listened to several recording but had never seen it live and until this point I hadn't managed to enjoy it at all. The dissonance and the madness of it had just never managed to capture me, however, Saturdays (15th March) performance changed it all.

The RSNO under the baton of Thomas Søndergård were thrilling and for the first time I enjoyed Messiaen's Turangalila immensely. It really is as much of a feast for the eyes as it is for the ears with the use of instruments such as the ondes Martenot (the nearest thing to a synthesiser in a piece of classical music). All the soloists really were amazing but for me the leader of the orchestra stood out as I think he captured Messiaen's idea of a love song amongst the chaos perfectly. Passages that had usually made feel a little uneasy completely reeled me in and when the tension was released, with the massive warm brass chords that pop up several times throughout the piece, the hall was left in shock and you could feel the audience wanting more.

The only disappointing thing about this concert was the attendance. A masterpiece and display of such genius should not be missed by anyone who can help it.

Luke Maher

Luke is part of the RSNO's Young Ambassador scheme, arranged by the Learning and Engagement Department. All opinions expressed by Young Ambassadors are that of the individual and are not representative of the RSNO. For more information, visit the RSNO website.

Share your reviews on any of our concerts on Twitter @RSNO
Under 16? Get Free tickets for Under 16. Find out more here.

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

An Adventure with Messiaen - by Ian Taft

Rehearsing Turangalîla with the RSNO

“Are you OK with volume?” says John Poulter. “I can get you some earplugs if you want.”

“No, I'm fine thanks,” I grin back at him. My head might be ringing by the end of the day but I've been looking forward to this for a long time and I want the full-on experience.

I'm sitting at the end of the percussion platform at the back of a Henry Wood Hall packed almost from wall to wall by an augmented RSNO, and the full rehearsals for Messiaen's glorious Turangalîla-Symphonie are about to begin. Directly in front of me are the tubular bells which John will be playing; to his left is the tam-tam and eight other percussionists distributed in an arc away from us, charged variously with splash, suspended, china and crash cymbals, wood blocks, maracas, triangle, tambourine, snare, tom-tom and bass drums. Actually, this is quite a modest array of percussion compared with those demanded by many more contemporary works. Now, I love percussion and the textures and emphasis it can bring to a piece (unlike in rock music, orchestral percussion is mostly not about anchoring rhythm but is part of the acoustic palette) but I do feel that too often today's composers just overdo it and throw the kitchen sink at a composition to no particular advantage. All those battering, clattering tom-toms and clanging gongs and brake-drums can be so tedious and clichéd. Less really is more in most cases and for my money, Shostakovich did it all so much better…

…and so it is with Messiaen. It's notable that each player in the section only has one or maybe two instruments to play because, at times, those rhythms get pretty complex: each tap of a block or splash of a cymbal has an integral part in Turangalîla's sound-world and the timing has to be perfect. Tenth member and section principal Simon Lowdon is down at the front of the orchestra with a vibraphone. For this performance all the “keyboards” are clustered around the podium, so the piano and Ondes Martenot (of which more later) are behind the conductor and grouped in front of him are vibraphone, keyed glockenspiel and celesta. I haven't seen this set-up before, but it makes good sense in terms of Messiaen's aim to emulate the sounds of a Gamelan orchestra, and should help the more delicate sounds to project more clearly into the audience.

If I sit forward in my seat I have a good view of those players and the podium, on which conductor Thomas Søndergård has just arrived. He greets the players and without much ado calls out “5th movement” and we are off into the dancing rhythms of “Joie du sang des étoiles.”

Joy of the blood of the stars! How can you not love a title like that? This fifth movement forms a kind of “end of part one” to the piece and for its six or seven minutes never ceases its dancing, whirling motion, concluding with an overwhelming, swelling crescendo only eclipsed at the very end of the work. As the musicians work through the movement at some length, it's evident just how much precision and control is needed, and Thomas' rehearsal technique is an model of efficiency as he highlights the most difficult areas, breaks down complex rhythms into bite-size chunks and addresses points of balance. There are just so many notes in this work and the density of some of the scoring is such that it's easy to see how passages could descend into chaos without impeccable control. It's plain to see how much the orchestra appreciate his clear, no-fuss approach: taxing to play as this music undoubtedly is, there's clearly a lot of enjoyment here, though I think the biggest grin must be the one on Maestro Søndergård's face as he directs these great torrents of sound.

Having started in the middle of the work, the rehearsal continues with the opening movements: the Introduction with its bustling, aggressive string entry and the growling, foreboding brass (what Messiaen called the “Statue-theme”) leading on to a plaintive little woodwind phrase (the “Flower-theme”) which also recurs throughout the work; and the second movement, “Chant d'Amour 1”, which heralds the swooping “Love-Theme” introduced by the sweet tones of the Ondes Martenot. Here the piano also makes its voice heard in no uncertain terms. I've listened to this music on recordings many times but seeing it performed live really makes you aware just what an insane part this is for piano and why it needs a virtuoso player: pianist Markus Bellheim is certainly up to that challenge and he gets a hearty stamping of feet from the orchestra after he executes at blinding speed the descending passage at the end of movement 2 which covers the whole length of the keyboard from top to bottom.

It's break time and I manage to have a brief chat with the Ondes Martenot player, the charming Jacques Tchamkerten. He says that he plays this work maybe three or four times a year at most and by day he's an academic at the Geneva Conservatoire; “you cannot live just by playing the Ondes Martenot.” I tell him I'm fascinated by the instrument and remark on its ability to sound like a human voice. “Yes,” he replies, “and for a while it was popular among composers. But some who wrote much music for voice didn't like it. Poulenc, for example, hated the instrument.”
 ow can you HhhhhhHbbbbnnnn  

So what is it exactly? Most people have heard of the Theremin and that has been used in film scores and by performers like Led Zeppelin and Bill Bailey. You can buy Theremin kits online fairly cheaply and play one yourself. The “Onde”, though, is a bit of a rarity and is always the focus of attention when it appears on stage. Invented in 1928 by musician Maurice Martenot, its name translates as “Martenot Waves” and you could think of it as the very first synthesizer. It uses an electronic oscillator to produce a pure tone (remember those sound experiments in the Physics class at school?) and some other circuits to allow the pitch to be varied continuously over a wide range. In addition the sound can be fed through three different speakers – a plain one, one with resonating strings in front and one with a small gong, which creates a more metallic tone. With the wide frequency range you can have a high, clear, human sounding voice or at the bottom end, earth-shaking bass notes, both used in Turangalîla. Get hold of the recent Hyperion CD of this work, play it on a good sound system and you’ll be startled to hear the “Onde” chugging away mightily in the first movement.

But what for me makes the instrument so interesting is how it is played. It has a scaled-down keyboard (though about 6 octaves' worth) and you can just play notes, with the added feature that the whole keyboard can move freely in its mounting, and you can get vibrato effects if you wobble your fingers while holding down keys. The other mode of playing – I've heard this called the ruban (ribbon) – is based on a tensioned steel wire with a mounted ring in which you place your index finger. By moving the ring back and forth along a strip – with note positions marked – at the front of the keyboard, you create continuous slide, or glissando, effects, and these are what Messiaen uses very prominently in Turangalîla. And given that this is an amplified instrument, it has no difficulty soaring over the work's huge forces when it needs to.

When I go back upstairs to the rehearsal hall, I'm amused to see the “Onde”’s curiosity value is well in evidence as M. Tchamkerten and his instrument are surrounded by a wee gaggle of players, though I do manage to get a close look for a few moments before the rehearsal restarts. This looks like one of the original instruments, lovely old wood and Bakelite switches. I know there are not many of these left but I have heard that a new model is being produced. This has been prompted by, among others, Jonny Greenwood of the band Radiohead who's used the instrument in some of their songs. I would love to play with one but it's way out of my price range, I fear.

So it's back to work, and before the lunch break we come to the eighth movement,  “Développement de l'amour.” This, says Thomas, is the most difficult and complex section in the whole work. I can see what he means as they begin to work on the movement's energetic passages which seem surge forwards then to pull back in rapid succession, at intervals bursting into great flowerings of the love-theme. This movement above all, is where Messiaen celebrates physical love, and there's certainly a sense of, ahem, release when the orchestra's finally allowed to reach the immense, extended climax near the end of the movement.

And so it goes, into the afternoon session, with more of that eighth movement followed by pointed explorations of the other movements. Although this is the full rehearsal day, on the previous day there have been sectional rehearsals to attend to fine detail by percussion, brass, winds and strings. Today, on occasion Thomas asks a section to play a passage on their own where, for example, their part is particularly important in the rhythmic structure and it's fascinating to hear these bits out of the context of the whole ensemble. This reminds me of a previous rehearsal when John asked me “Doesn't it take away the magic to see how all this is done?” Well no, actually. Not only does it help me – a music lover without any musical training – to get a sense of how a piece fits together, but it doesn't diminish the real magic which is how does a composer think this stuff upand then achieve the sound in the orchestra? Now that's magic – as the man said.

Postscript – Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, Saturday.

So what of the performance? The feeling at the end of Thursday's rehearsal had been overwhelmingly positive and reports from the Edinburgh concert had been good. I've loved this piece from the first time I heard it – a BBC Proms broadcast in 1982 – and this is just my fourth live Turangalîla. Partner Elizabeth has been joking all week that she needs to tie me down or I'll float away; it's fair to say anticipation is high on Saturday evening.

Violist Katherine Wren gives an excellent pre-concert talk and there's a nice coincidence: it turns out her first live experience of the symphony was the same as mine – a concert by the Hallé in Manchester in 1989. We can't remember who the conductor was, but I promise to look out the programme and let her know.

The audience tonight is not large – it's a sad fact that Glasgow audiences are still scared away by the unfamiliar – but it's a respectable enough showing. I can see someone in the front row of the stalls with a score in his lap. Oh yes, we're ready.

…and we’re away. I'm so absorbed that it's the fifth movement almost before I know it, my heart's pounding and every impulse in me wants to cheer. But no; save it. The long, gentle sixth movement is a welcome chill-out after all that excitement. Love's well and truly developed in the ecstatic eighth, and the curious, intense little ostinato of the ninth builds up the tension again before the last lap. We have seen few conductors who simply radiate pleasure in their work quite like Thomas Søndergård: he's conducted throughout with passion and precision, but mostly with a huge, happy grin that's infectious all the way from stage to circle. He launches the Finale at a hell of a lick; it definitely wasn't this fast at the rehearsal! There are moments the orchestra seems to be hanging on for dear life, but magnificently, they manage it. The very last chord in the score is marked “très long” and Thomas doesn't disappoint: the crescendo is indeed very long and overwhelming.

A moment of almost shocked silence, then the first clap. I shout; so does Elizabeth. Over the next few minutes we all make, I think, a worthy amount of noise in reward for what's just been given to us. It's all over and we're shattered, though I nip round to the choir stalls to have a few words with John down below. As we get our coats to leave the hall, there is another cluster of folk at the front of the stage looking at the Ondes Martenot. The ten gallant percussionists are having a group photo taken. What a great night. Bravissimi tutti, Thomas and all the performers: we'll remember this one for a long time. And if you weren't there, too bad: you have NO idea what you missed.



Ian Taft is a valued member of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra's Chair Patron Programme, supporting our Associate Principal Percussionist, John Poulter. Please click here to find out more about the RSNO's Chair Patron Programme.