27 April 2011

Simon Oliver writes: We are on the road again, this time it's off to Bristol playing Mahler Symphony No. 4 at Colston Hall. In the car for the journey, again driven by Matt Gibson (thanks Matt!), is bass player Gareth Sheppard who joined the Philharmonia back in 2009. I thought I'd ask him a few questions on how he is finding his new life in the Orchestra.....

How did it feel to be in the orchestra when you first joined?
"Coming from out of the London scene, I was a bit worried that people would think I did not belong. But I was soon put at ease as everyone was so friendly. The whole ethos of playing great music together soon made me relax and I felt part of a great team."

You came down to London after studying in Manchester?
"Yes. It was a big move for me. I found it quite stressful packing my life into the car and driving down for the first time and I actually slept a few nights on some friends' floors! But it wasn't such a big move if you compare it to fellow bass player Mike Fuller. He came all the way over from America to join the orchestra!"

Can you remember what you played at your first rehearsal?
"It was Beethoven's Symphony No. 6 with Sir Charles Mackerras, sadly no longer with us. I remember being very nervous, as I had not seen anyone since my trial. I thought that people would see me and think, 'Oh no, not you!'. But I felt very much at home after only a few minutes."

A highlight so far?
"Definitely touring Tristan und Isolde with Esa-Pekka Salonen! The whole experience was awesome and I never thought I would be doing things like taking a speed boat out on Lake Lucerne during a break in a rehearsal."

How has your family taken to your job with the Philharmonia?
'"My Mum and Dad came to the performance of Mahler's Symphony No. 6 in London. My Dad was one of the first to get to his feet for the standing ovation at the end! He played the horn when he was younger and he thought our Principal Horn, Nigel Black, was just amazing."

Other talents?
"I used to be in a punk band and we played gigs in various pubs in Wales where I'm from. After taking singing lessons at university, I sang in various choirs and then landed the role of Figaro in Mozart's Marriage of Figaro, which I loved doing. Now, whenever we are on tour, you can find me sometimes entertaining the bass section at a Karaoke bar with my tribute show to Tom Jones!"

So on we drive to Bristol. Its just a shame we have no Karaoke machine in the car. I'm sure that this could be arranged for the next time, then it's Delilah all the way!