He worked as Guest Principal Bass with both Scottish Opera and the Northern Sinfonia while still a student.
After leaving college, Neil freelanced with a variety of London orchestras, as well as Welsh Opera, English Opera Group, Royal Ballet, BBC Northern, and Scottish Theatre Ballet. After a while he settled with the New Philharmonia Orchestra (later known as the Philharmonia Orchestra) for symphonic work and Philomusica of London for chamber orchestra playing, while always playing as much chamber music as possible (including the Sunday afternoon broadcasts in the early days of Capital Radio).
Between 1976 and 1979, Neil held the Principal Bass chair of the BBC Welsh Symphony, after which he returned to London and the Philharmonia. In the early 80’s he was a founder-member of London Musici (with whom he occasionally performed Bottesini’s Grande Duo Concertante), and the short-lived London Double Bass Ensemble, the brainchild of the Philharmonia’s Principal Bass at the time, Gerry Drucker. Gerry’s sheer enthusiasm netted prestigious performances for this ensemble at the Wigmore Hall, on live television and radio, and even accompanying a TV play by Mike Leigh (music by Carl Davis), as well as lots of fun but terrifying concerts around the UK.
During the late 80’s Neil was a frequent traveller with Chris Warren-Green’s London Chamber Orchestra, English Chamber Orchestra and London Sinfonietta, and also began teaching at the Royal College of Music. He succeeded Gerry as Principal Bass of the Philharmonia in 1992, and later published his transcription for bass of Ševčík’s Op.2 School of Bowing Technique.
Whilst subsequently teaching on the Pimlico Special Music Course, Neil published Beginning Scales on the Double Bass and Essentials of Ševčík, and currently holds teaching posts at both the Purcell School and Trinity College, as well as being Visiting Professor to the Razumovsky Academy. He regularly plays chamber music with the Soloists of the Philharmonia and the Razumovsky Ensemble.
Neil has always considered that the greatest music for bass begins and ends with the symphony orchestra, but also loves playing everything else in between!
The Philharmonia’s Principal Double Bass Chair is endowed by Sir Sydney and Lady Lipworth in memory of their son, Bertrand Lipworth. To find out how you can support the work of the Philharmonia Orchestra through endowing a Chair, visit Chair Endowment.