From The Back Desk - Laurence Davies, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

Apparently, it's always the quiet ones who shout loudest, according to Laurence Davies, French horn with the RPO.

Laurence Davies, RPO

Name: Laurence Davies

Instrument: French Horn

Ensemble: Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

Why did you decide to become a musician?
My parents were, and indeed still are, both in the trade and it seems it was in my blood. Or perhaps more honestly I was surrounded by music day and night, my older brother is an extremely talented musician and I just went with the flow.

What's the one performance from your career that sticks in your mind?
There isn't just one but as with so many things in life some of your first experiences seem the most enormous. Singing Bach's Matthew Passion as a chorister at New College in Oxford with Edward Higginbottom has stayed with me a long time, certainly.

What's the most embarrassing thing that's happened to you on stage?
Getting something wrong. It's not just happened once either! Sometimes something doesn't go quite according to plan and it can be as surprising, if not more so, to the musician as to the audience.

If you could work with one musician, living or dead, who would it be and why?
Mozart for his unsurpassed genius.

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"?
I've thought the first bit but it's never crossed my mind to mime. Maybe it should have!

Could you give us an example of the downside of the profession, something that the average concert-goer might not know about?
We do have some extraordinarily long days travelling and rehearsing at the end of which the average, and un-average concert-goer quite understandably expects us to perform perfectly. You don't always feel up to the job and it can be quite wearing when you are told by some concert-goer that 'it must be wonderful to do something that you love for a living'. Love the music, yes! Or most of it anyway.

Does the touring lifestyle bring out rock star behaviour in the orchestra?
Unfortunately we don't get paid enough to be able to refurbish/trash 5 star hotel rooms - even if we were lucky enough to stay in them. We've all had the odd late night though.

Have you witnessed any serious diva strops in your time as a musician?
Yes. The musicians that make no noise on the platform often make the most noise off it!

What's the biggest challenge facing musicians like you these days?
Being able to keep up with the cost of living. Some fees have hardly changed since I started working in 1988

What's the best thing about being a musician?
Doing something you love.

The RPO will be giving concerts as part of 'First Time Live' this month (March) in Doncaster and Grimsby. The scheme, run by Orchestras Live, gives young people the chance to hear orchestras for the first time. 

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