We are pleased to present the fourth instalment of our new series - The RPS Conversation – dedicated to the UK’s constellation of orchestras and how the pandemic has affected them.

We ask 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? We also 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.’

There are three ways to enjoy the conversation:

Watch the conversation

You can watch it here (or directly on our YouTube channel):

The conversation is filmed in two parts. A link to the second part should automatically appear as the first part concludes, but can be found here if you have any issues locating it.

Listen to the conversation

You can listen to the complete audio of the conversation here:

Read the conversation

You can read a complete transcript of the conversation in PDF format here:

If you would like a version of this in a larger or different style of font for legibility reasons, please contact us and we will be happy to supply this.

We hope you are inspired by everything our four orchestral musicians have to say. We would love to hear your thoughts arising from each RPS Conversation, and warmly welcome you to get in touch.

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