Our Member Focus interview series offers the chance to meet some of our players and hear more about the orchestra.

Q&A: Percussionist Richard Souper

How long have you been playing with Trinity Orchestra, and how did you first get involved in it?

I joined Trinity Orchestra back in 1985. I had started to work at the BBC Music Library in April of that year where my immediate boss was Ronald Corp who was the conductor of Trinity Orchestra at that time. Prior to joining the BBC I had been trying to freelance as a timpanist/percussionist and so I joined Trinity Orchestra as a way of keeping up my playing with an orchestra of a good standard.

Why did you start playing percussion?

I originally took up percussion when I was about 13 years old. Like a lot of people at my school I had been learning the clarinet with which the school orchestra was heavily over-subscribed. As I was keen to join, it was suggested I should play percussion. Free percussion lessons were available on Friday lunchtimes and so I went along and began to learn timpani and snare drum techniques. Some time after that the school choir performed Carmina Burana and I was selected to play the snare drum part in that (I had actually wanted to play the castanets) and from there I joined the Warwickshire County Youth Orchestra and the County Youth Wind Band.

As a percussionist you play many different instruments. Do you have a favourite?

As a percussionist you have to learn to play a lot of different instruments all with their own techniques and characteristics. While I try to keep my hand in with all the instruments my favourite are the timpani which I will be playing in out June concert. I enjoy the timpani because they have their own individual role within the orchestra and yet still interact with and support other instruments. I particularly like the way they add that bit of extra drama and excitement even when the whole orchestra is going at full tilt.

What would you say to a youngster thinking of taking up orchestral percussion?

I would say to anyone thinking of taking up orchestral percussion to remember it is not an easy option. The fact percussion instruments can be made to make a noise easily doesn’t mean they can be mastered easily. While you may have a favourite instrument don’t neglect the other ones as you will have far more opportunities and so far more enjoyment if you are able to play anything put in front of you on any instrument.


Q&A: Violinist Clive Hobday

How long have you been playing with Trinity Orchestra, and how did you first get involved in it?

I first played with Trinity Orchestra as an occasional extra in its early days in the 1980s, when Ron Corp was conductor. After a long gap, I started playing again with the orchestra on a similar basis about 10 years or so ago, following my retirement from the BBC Concert Orchestra. As so often is the case, I was kindly asked through personal contacts in the orchestra.

You’re guest leading Trinity Orchestra’s next concert, on Saturday 12 May. What are the enjoyments and challenges of being Leader of an orchestra?

Regular audience members usually see me skulking at the back of Trinity Orchestra’s First Violin section, where it can sometimes be difficult to keep in touch with what’s happening at the front. Leading means you’re at the heart of proceedings, liaising with the other string principals and suggesting your own ideas to help mould the performance the conductor wants. Challenges? Trying not to mis-count bars rest and lead the section astray!


The concert features Tintagel by Bax, Gershwin’s Piano Concerto and Vaughan Williams’ ‘Pastoral’ Symphony. What piece are you most looking forward to performing?

That’s a difficult one. None of the works is frequently featured in local orchestra concerts. Each conjures up very different atmospheres. The Bax and Gershwin I have played a few times over the years; so perhaps, it’s the Vaughan Williams because of its unfamiliarity, thought it’s fun experiencing Gerswhin writing a large-scale, purely instrumental work, which, for a piano concerto, may be unique in its style. Harrow is lucky to have an orchestra which can offer a programme of Cornish Grandeur, New York Swing and, possibly, vistas of infinity. Come and hear for yourselves.

Q&A: Principal Oboe Alison Bell

Alison BellHow long have you been playing with Trinity Orchestra, and how did you first get involved in it?

I am one of the few founder members who are still playing with the orchestra. In 1980 John Craven, the organist at Trinity Church at that time, asked a few friends, including myself, to play in a small ensemble to accompany the hymns at a Sunday service. This was so successful that John decided to expand the orchestra and to perform proper evening concerts. I have played principal oboe ever since along with my husband, Ken (principal flute) and, joining later, daughter Fiona (cello). Trinity Orchestra means a lot to me – the concerts have punctuated my life. Through it I have made many good friends and experienced some wonderful music.

Our next concert, at 4pm on Saturday 24 March, is one for all ages! Why do you think families should come along?

Being a music teacher, I realise how important it is for children to be able to see the instruments being played and to enjoy, along with family members of any age, the exhilarating sound of a live symphony orchestra, on this occasion playing mostly familiar music from favourite films. There is nothing quite like the experience!

Mum and Dad - Trinity

You’ll be playing the solo in Gabriel’s Oboe in this concert. Can you tell us a bit about the piece?

Gabriel’s oboe was written for the film The Mission which stars Jeremy Irons and Robert De Niro. The music is by the legendary film composer Ennio Morricone. It is a lovely lyrical tune which has been arranged for many different instruments but still sounds best on the oboe!!

What would you say to a young person thinking of taking up the oboe?

There are many reasons to! The oboe is officially one of the instruments designated as ‘endangered’ because not enough youngsters are taking it up. Oboists are usually more in demand than other woodwind players because there are fewer of them, so more playing opportunities will arise. It is a very expressive instrument and gets great tunes in the orchestra!

Q&A: Principal Viola Keith Grout

KG2How long have you been playing with Trinity Orchestra, and how did you first get involved in it?

I have been part of Trinity Orchestra almost from the very beginning, having begun my association from the second concert that the orchestra ever put on in 1980. I have only missed one concert since and I think I have only missed two rehearsals in all that time.

I started off at the back of the viola section but was promoted to Principal Second Violin for a couple of seasons before becoming Principal Viola. I joined the committee fairly soon after that, and became Treasurer for a while before I had a very long stint as Chairman.

You’re very active in the Harrow community. Does your playing with Trinity Orchestra ever overlap with other local projects?

I have always been part of the musical scene in and around Harrow – accompanying the local choral societies and almost every charitable concert going!

Because of all these connections I was asked to become part of the committee that ran the Harrow Arts Centre for a while, where we put on the Harrow Musician of the Year competition. Then again I was asked to join the committee that puts on the Summer Proms for St Luke’s Hospice, and I was able to suggest that Trinity Orchestra take part in one of those concerts in the historic Harrow School Speech Room.

????????????????????????????????????What have been your most memorable / stand-out concerts or moments from your time playing with Trinity Orchestra?

There have been so many wonderful concerts over the years with Trinity Orchestra! I particularly remember one or two – the concert with Rossini’s William Tell Overture, and Elgar’s Cello Concerto with the wonderful cellist Paul Watkins, who was to become our Music Director for so many memorable concerts (and who is now our President).

And perhaps, with reference to this coming concert, when we previously played Berlioz Harold in Italy I was privileged to play the solo viola part. I look forward to hearing the performance by soloist Rebecca Chambers, who’s Principal Viola with the ENO, in our next concert. The Berlioz is quite an interesting piece, commissioned by Paganini to show off his prowess as a viola player – there was a dearth of viola solo concertos up till then. Unfortunately he refused to perform it saying it didn’t have enough ‘flashy bits’ to show off his technique! Berlioz has gauged the character of the viola very well and shows off the instrument to its very best.

Trinity Orchestra’s 2017/18 season also sees the return of our family concerts. As a music teacher, what impact do you think these events have on youngsters who attend?

I am pleased to see the return of our Family Concert this year. They have been instrumental in introducing the young people of Harrow to orchestral music in the past and I am certain we have produced a programme that will delight all ages.

Q&A: Tuba player and Chairman Adrian Parker


How long have you been playing with Trinity Orchestra, and how did you first get involved in it?

Although I am not a founder member, I started playing very early in the life of the orchestra and have played tuba, along with my wife Amanda in the violins, ever since. I think I have only missed two concerts in well over twenty years!

You’re currently Chairman of the orchestra. What do you enjoy most about this role?

Keith Grout (our Principal viola) and Fran Freer (Principal cello) had done great work as Chairs of the orchestra over many years. Until I stopped work, three years ago, I didn’t have time to properly commit to the orchestra, other than playing. I then volunteered to e Secretary, but found myself becoming Chair very soon after I started my secretarial role!

As Chair, I feel that I have done a decent job if, at the end of each concert, the conductor, the players and the audience feel that they have had an enjoyable musical experience. I always enjoyed listening to the pre-concert talks and have decided to play an active role in promoting the upcoming music and the future programmes in those talks. The feedback from the audience has been positive so far.

If you could put together your dream concert programme, what would it be?

I’ve been lucky enough to perform the Vaughan Williams tuba concerto twice with Trinity, so perhaps we shouldn’t include that again! A brass player’s delight might be Janáček’s Sinfonietta and Richard Strauss’ Alpine Symphony (which remains one of the few works I still haven’t played, but would love to!). Surprisingly, I might preface the heavy music with Wagner’s Siegfried Idyll, a beautiful miniature that I wish I’d written to celebrate the birth of our sons! Oh, and I’d be conducting!!

Why should someone come along to hear our next concert?

Our concert on 13 May is an opportunity to hear three really great works, full of tunes and conducted by a brilliant up-and-coming and, coincidentally, female conductor (which wrongly is still too much of a rarity in the classical music world). In addition, fifty years after quite a well-known Harrow singer (!) Dame Janet Baker first came to prominence singing Elgar’s Sea Pictures, we welcome another impressive local mezzo-soprano as our soloist – Victoria Simmonds.


Adrian starring as an Edwardian conductor in the BBC’s Howards End!

What are your ambitions for Trinity Orchestra in the next few years?

I want the orchestra to continue the regular programme of concerts, with our fantastic Music Director John Andrews conducting the majority of our performances to develop a strong musical relationship with the orchestra, but also welcoming a range of guest conductors to bring periodic freshness. Financing concerts, especially newer music, is always an issue, but I hope that each season will include at least one concert to stretch the orchestra beyond its more comfortable repertoire.

I am also anxious to at least maintain and, if possible, increase our audience numbers. The orchestra is a local musical gem and we need to seek all ways to bring in the local residents who enjoy going to classical concerts.

I will also be looking for ways to increase the public exposure of the orchestra. Recently a good number of our gentlemen – for periodic reasons only – members participated in the filming of a TV adaption of Howards End for the BBC. Watch out for a minor credit when it’s broadcast in the autumn!

Q&A: Cellist Emily Farrell


How old were you when you started playing the cello? Why did you choose that instrument?

I was seven when I requested and got permission to start learning cello in the next school year, and 8 by the time I had my first lesson (with local legend Pamela Moody). I fell in love with it in a school assembly, when a girl in the top year at my school played for us. I think she’s a professional player now. My parents had a few goes at persuading me I might like something smaller, as parents will, but I was determined I wanted one, and I’ve never been sorry about my pick – although they do seem to get heavier the further you carry them, especially when the weather’s not good.

Do you come from a musical family?

Both of my parents were semi-professional players when I was a kid, but I think they’re both first generation musicians in their own families. One of the reasons I wanted to learn an instrument when I was little was to “read the stories” in my mum’s other books. My mum, Janet, plays in Trinity Orchestra too, on the viola (something like her seventh instrument!). She’s from the USA, and her permission to live and work in the UK was originally granted as an oboe teacher in Oxford. It’s quite a specialised job. My dad is a former champion Scottish bagpiper, who still plays for local Burns Nights. We haven’t used him for a Trinity concert yet, but you never know…

When did you join Trinity Orchestra? How did you first get involved in it?

I was invited to join a few days before a concert, during a period of cello shortage about 15 years ago (during the 21st anniversary season, I think). Luckily the orchestra was doing a season of Brahms symphonies and the one they were up to I’d done in HSYM Phil (as it was called then) a few years earlier. I grew up around Harrow, as you can probably tell from the local references – there was a conspiracy of parents to keep me playing, and getting out of the house, when I had children quite young, which was very kind of everybody who helped. I think I’ve missed one, or maybe two concerts since then – I’ve been through a lot of desk partners in that time!

We’re currently looking for more string players – what would you say to someone who’s thinking of joining the orchestra?

We serve real coffee! I’m also living proof that the “Grade 8 Standard” we recommend for string players is a guideline, not a rule. I stopped grades after 7, to concentrate on GCSEs and orchestral playing. We’re looking for people who can sight-read through symphonies at 7pm after a day at work (making roughly their fair share of mistakes) – not necessarily paper qualifications. We get the chance to perform fantastic repertoire with some amazing soloists and conductors – it’s really satisfying to be part of such high-quality concerts.

Q&A: Principal Flute Kenneth Bell

How old were you when you started playing the flute and what attracted you to the instrument?

I began piano lessons as a young child and when I was about 12 I became fascinated by orchestras and wind bands. I wanted to learn a woodwind or brass instrument and my school had a flute available and a visiting woodwind teacher.

You’ve been Principal Flautist and Bandmaster of the Royal Air Force Central Band and done much freelance work – what have been your personal performance highlights of your career?


Playing Mahler under a young Simon Rattle in my pre-RAF BBC Scottish days, performing a concerto with the Royal Philharmonic in the RFH, working with superb composers such as Joseph Horovitz, Cecilia McDowall and Philip Sparke and playing in many world premiere performances, and also giving Masterclasses at Trinity (pre-Laban) and London Colleges of Music and Gothenberg Conservatoire. As an RAF Musician and subsequently a TCL Examiner I have worked in over 25 different countries.

How long have you been playing in Trinity Orchestra and how did you first get involved?

When I was invited to join RAF Central Band as a Flautist they were based at RAF Uxbridge and I was soon invited to play with orchestras in the West London area (and further afield) in my spare time. I first played with Trinity Orchestra in 1982 and have been there ever since! It’s a true family affair as my wife Alison is our Principal Oboist and daughter Fiona is in the cello section.

The orchestra plays to a high standard and does interesting repertoire with talented conductors – I have played many memorable concerts with Musical Directors Paul Watkins and Michael Murray and guests such as Ian Brown and Colin Lawson. The mix of players is unique – professionals, retired professionals, teachers, students and gifted amateurs. It’s a pleasure to be working with our new MD, John Andrews, who has got some interesting and unusual programmes planned.

You’ll be starring as soloist in our concert on 28 January 2017. Could you tell us a bit about Mozart’s Concerto for Flute and Harp?

The Flute and Harp Concerto is probably the lightest in style of all Mozart’s concerti, for any instrument. It is supremely elegant, lyrical and polished and it is hard to believe that the composer was going through a stressful and professionally frustrating time when he composed it. It’s the only time Mozart wrote for the harp and it inspired composers in the 19th and 20th centuries to write for flute and harp, creating some wonderful repertoire – particularly from Debussy and Ravel.