London Schubert Players

It was never my ambition to be the artistic director and conductor of ‘my own’ orchestra. Then, out of the blue, in 1989, I was presented with the opportunity of killing those two birds with one stone. The Director of the French Institute in London, who was keen to start the very first musical residency in the Artaud Theatre in South Kensington approached me at the same time as a professional colleague, conductor and professor Juan Rodriguez Romero from Seville.

Juan had embarked on a long-lasting project to bring classical orchestral music to Andalusia where there was no tradition for this type of entertainment. His project was fully supported by the local municipalities. The first concert tour schedule was already in place and due to start in two months time in Andalusia and in the former Spanish African enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla. The tour had been organised but no orchestra had been found yet to bring it to fruition!

After talks with the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain failed, I was approached and invited to form, by myself, the desperately needed orchestra and save the concert tour. I was busy teaching at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama but, as the summer holidays were around the corner, I was able to spent the following two months auditioning strings, oboes, bassoons, horns and flutes and assemble an orchestra of 27 accomplished and professional young musicians.

The conductor wished to include in the programme Schubert’s 5th Symphony and Mozart’s Piano Concerto K595 – so I baptized ourselves The London Schubert Players!

The Players did exceptionally well. We far exceeded the concert promoters’ expectations. Since then we have been continually invited back. The tours have been a real treat for both sides. The British players were thrilled to get acquainted with the Mediterranean sun and the orange trees, the distinct flavour of Moorish Spain and the Flamenco, the superb cuisine and most of all, the wine which made every lunch and dinner a memorable occasion!

Photography: Tom Ang