Pip Eastop, Horn player, Photographer, Trumpet player

Horn player, Photographer, Trumpet player

Sir Charles Mackerras and The Philharmonia Orchestra

I was recently (December 2009) very fortunate to spend a week working with the Philharmonia Orchestra as their guest principal horn. The conductor was Sir Charles Mackerras and we played two concerts the Royal Festival Hall.

Concert 1:

Wagner night:
Overture & Venusberg Music
Tannhäuser
Prelude & Liebestod from Tristan und Isolde
Götterdämmerung (excerpts).

Concert 2:

Beethoven’s 6th Symphony
E. Humperdink’s Hansel and Gretel (extracts).

Despite his illness and his advanced years, Sir Charles was a joy to work with. He was crystal clear at all times and worked through everything with efficiency and humour. He took obvious delight in all the music and the incredibly positive reaction he got from everyone in The Philharmonia, all of whom clearly loved working with him.

At the end of the final rehearsal, when we’d finished work on Hansel and Gretel and the Pastoral Symphony, he said to everyone:

“I’d like to thank you all for the last week of work we’ve done together. The Wagner concert was really exceptional, in fact it’s one of the best concerts I’ve ever been involved in”.

…at which point, the orchestra let out a strange and wonderful sound – a combination of sighs and oooohs and aaaahs and the catchings of breath. I’ve never heard such a thing before. It was most touching.

Laurence Rogers was the other guest principal horn for the Wagner concert – we did half each. Laurence was awesome in Tannhäuser and Tristan, and I had the immense pleasure of leading the huge section of 10 in Götterdämmerung.

I’ll die a happy man knowing that I led that tremendous horn section in that music, with that orchestra and with that conductor. I even like the hall, too!

Unfortunately, I’m afraid I completely failed to get a photograph….

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