From The Back Desk - Thelma Handy, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra

Pajamas on stage and one of the greatest diva demands we've ever heard of... all in a day's work at the RLPO! We chat to violinist and joint leader Thelma Handy to find out more.

thelma handy royal liverpool philharmonic

Name: Thelma Handy

Instrument: Violin (Joint Leader)

Ensemble: Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra

Why did you decide to become a musician?
I wasn't really any good at anything else!

What's the one performance from your career that sticks in your mind?
Mozart’s Posthorn Serenade with Christoph Eschenbach in the Swiss Alps. It was wonderful music and played in the most magical setting.

What's the most embarrassing thing that's happened to you on stage?
Having to play a concerto in Liverpool Philharmonic Hall wearing nothing but my pyjamas and barefoot.

If you could work with one musician, living or dead, who would it be and why?
Barbra Streisand, believe it or not. I would love to have the chance to share the stage with one of the last great larger than life superstars.

In concert, have you ever thought, "I can't actually play this bit very well, I'm going to mime and hope no-one notices"?
If I told you that I would have to kill you.

Could you give us an example of the downside of the profession, something that the average concert-goer might not know about?
Often, by the time I get home the pub has shut! Also, I find that at the end of the evening my eyes are smarting and a bit pink due to having not blinked enough during the performance.

Does the touring lifestyle bring out rock star behaviour in the orchestra?
All I will say is that an orchestra knows how to let down its hair...

Have you witnessed any serious diva strops in your time as a musician?  
There was one notable occasion when a particular singer had the back of a major concert hall rebuilt so as not to have to see any member of the orchestra. I did think that was a bit much.

What's the biggest challenge facing musicians like you these days?
To make sure that a comprehensive music education is available to all children. Without that there will be no audiences and musicians of tomorrow.

What's the best thing about being a musician?
Music is the ultimate means of communication, and to be able to do this with a group of friends who can feel and respond to every nuance in a fraction of a second is an absolute privilege.

It's RLPO Week on Classic FM! Make sure you tune in to the Full Works Concert every night this week to hear fantastic recordings from our Orchestra in the North-West of England. Find out more about the special concerts here.

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