London Philharmonic Orchestra offer Daydreams and Fantasies in Brighton

Kate Birchall

Their programme will be Williams – Fantasia on Welsh Nursery Rhymes; Rachmaninoff – Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini; and Tchaikovsky Symphony No 1 (Winter Daydreams).

Kate Birchall, one of the second violins, is particularly looking toward to being back in Brighton, a residency the orchestra has enjoyed for all the 18 years she has been with them.

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“We always have lovely audiences in Brighton and they are certainly very enthusiastic whenever we have been there, and the lovely thing is that some of the Glyndebourne audiences will be coming along as well, I am sure.

“Just to have audiences back in the hall is fantastic. When lockdown came we did continue working and we did manage to do lots of things. We were working online which was great, just to be doing it, but really there is nothing more demoralising when you get to the end of a lovely piece and there is just silence that meets you!

“Also when we were able to get back together for that, it was still strange because of social distancing. We had to slim down the orchestra as much as possible and we were two metres away from each other which took a lot of getting used to. For ensembles you really need to hear each other, and when you’re not sitting next to each other, then your ears are out on stalks just trying to hear! It all took a while to work out. There was a good three months at the start when we just couldn’t do anything really but our management were incredibly creative to find ways to bring us together and we even did a performance of a Beethoven movement where we all played our parts in our living rooms and it was all put together for a video (which can be viewed on YouTube: – Beethoven Symphony No. 3 ‘Eroica’ (Scherzo) – Lockdown Performance – London Philharmonic Orchestra.

“And also a lot of our educational projects moved online and they worked really well on Zoom. It was just really brilliant to be working with people again but I suppose for me it was just very much a question of just trying to stay in the moment always thinking that we would come out the other end.

“For me also it was a time of study. In the normal course of performances with an orchestra you have very limited study time so I really took the time to practise. I managed to find the motivation! I don’t know how! But really music is a discipline. We are like athletes. You have to maintain it or you lose it and I really just wanted to push the boundaries and keep going. I would be revisiting solo performances, the kinds of things that I would not be doing with the orchestra.”

And now coming back Kate feels confident: “Our management have been fantastic and they have put together a really exciting season for 22-23. I think that the future for the orchestra is really exciting and really vibrant. There has been great resilience and great creativity, literally having to turn on a pinhead sometimes and do things very differently and in a different direction to the way we would normally have done things but that’s the way we have managed to keep going.”

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