Meet the Players | Series One

The RPO has been at the forefront of music-making for over seventy years. Meet some of the key players, and find out more about life in the UK's busiest ensemble. In Series One we focus on the viola, cello and cor anglais.

William Heggart, Tutti Cello (2012-02-21) by Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Bill HiskettRoyal Philharmonic Orchestra

Cello

Essential to every orchestra, the cello provides a unique role and gets to play almost every part: the melody, harmony or bass line -  often all in the same piece! From providing the driving force or playing the most stunning solos, the cello section is always kept on their toes!

RPO Cello Section (2012-02-21) by Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Bill HiskettRoyal Philharmonic Orchestra

Typically, the cello section is located to the right of the conductor, between the viola and double bass sections.

Jonathan Ayling, Sub-Principal Cello (2012-10-30) by Bill Hiskett and Royal Philharmonic OrchestraRoyal Philharmonic Orchestra

With its enormous range and rich tone, the cello is often employed as the solo instrument in concertos.

Player Profile: Jonathan Ayling (Co-Principal Cello) (2017-11) by Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Pecheur FilmsRoyal Philharmonic Orchestra

Jonathan Ayling, the RPO's Co-Principal Cellist, describes his favourite instrument to us.

RPO Viola Seciton (2012-02-21) by Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Bill HiskettRoyal Philharmonic Orchestra

Viola

Sitting in the middle of the string section, the viola is often the glue between the melody and harmony. Whilst similar to the violin, the viola produces a deeper, richer sound which makes it the perfect accompanying instrument, but on occasion it is deployed to add subtle inflections or solos. 

Liz Varlow, Sub-Principal Viola (2012-02-21) by Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Bill HiskettRoyal Philharmonic Orchestra

In pitch the viola is exactly an octave higher than the cello. It is typically played with a bow, but sometimes plucked with the fingers in a technique called 'pizzicato'.

Abigail Fenna - RPO Principal Viola by Royal Philharmonic OrchestraRoyal Philharmonic Orchestra

The viola section is often located at the centre of the string section, directly in front of the conductor - although some conductors prefer different layouts.

Player Profile: Ugne Tiškutė (Viola) (2017) by Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Pecheur FilmsRoyal Philharmonic Orchestra

Watch RPO violist Ugne Tiškutė demonstrate the instrument, and talk about how she came to pick it up.

Patrick Flanaghan, Cor Anglais (2017-11) by Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Pecheur FilmsRoyal Philharmonic Orchestra

Cor Anglais

From playing the most delicate melodies to supporting the oboe section, the cor anglais is very much at home when playing solos. Whilst looking similar to its close family member the oboe, don’t be fooled in thinking they are the same! With its darker, melancholic sound, the cor anglais lends itself to sad soloistic passages.

RPO Woodwind Section by Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Bill HiskettRoyal Philharmonic Orchestra

The cor anglais is part of the woodwind family, which also includes flutes, oboes, clarinets and bassoons. The cor anglais is similar to an oboe in tone, but closer to the clarinet in pitch.

Player Profile: Patrick Flanaghan (Cor Anglais) (2017) by Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Pecheur FilmsRoyal Philharmonic Orchestra

The RPO's Principal Cor Anglais player, Patrick Flanaghan, talks us through his relationship with the instrument.

Credits: Story

Films created by Pecheur Films
Thanks to Ugne Tiškutė, Jonathan Ayling and Patrick Flanaghan.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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