Player Profile: Liz Varlow

Liz Varlow

Liz Varlow, Sub-principal Viola

How did you become involved with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO) and what’s the best thing about being a member?

I’ve been a viola player in the RPO for the last seven years. I had worked in a couple of other orchestras before finding my way here, but I love the rich and varied life that playing with the RPO offers,and the fact that I can still fit it around my two children.

What inspired you to become a musician as a child?

My parents are both musical so I had the opportunity to learn the piano and violin at school (in the days when lessons were free and most children learnt to play an instrument) but never seriously contemplated being a musician until quite late …after my O levels. Even then I wasn’t clear whether I wanted to go to music college and be a performer, or university and do something completely different. I can’t imagine doing anything different now!

What have been your most memorable and enjoyable experiences whilst in the RPO?

I have many fond memories of amazing concerts with the RPO– performing Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet with Daniele Gatti for theBBC Proms, Charles Dutoit and Martha Argerich playing piano concertos … where the audience wouldn’t let her leave the stage but demanded encore after encore. I also remember many humorous moments where the Orchestra has pulled together to do amazing concerts in very difficult circumstances, such as when half of our suitcases got lost and we performed kitted out by the wardrobe people of the Vienna Opera House! I do love this Orchestra’s sense of adventur eand spirit and the fact that everyone will pull together to perform the best we possibly can, even if we’ve just stepped off a seven-hour coach journey and haven’t had time to eat.

Where is your favourite place to perform?

I do love Cadogan Hall (with its proximity to shops!) but I also love those old traditional concert halls that are so steeped in musical history such as the Musikverein in Vienna–all the amazing composers and performers who’ve played there before us.

Who is your favourite composer and why?

I think I’m a bit of a romantic so it has to be something with a good passionate tune … Rachmaninov or Brahms, but then I love the huge scale symphonies of Mahler and Bruckner – they are exhausting but very rewarding.

If you could learn to play another/different instrument, which would it be and why?

If I was to learn another instrument it would have to be the cello. All that richness of sound – it’s the sound all viola players dream of being able to produce. My daughter’s learning so I get to have the odd scrape occasionally.


About Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

Acknowledged as one of the UK’s most prestigious orchestras, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO) enjoys an international reputation for bringing audiences worldwide first-class performances and the highest possible standards of music-making across a diverse range of musical repertoire. This was the vision of the Orchestra’s flamboyant founder Sir Thomas Beecham, whose legacy is maintained today as the Orchestra thrives under the exceptional direction of its new Artistic Director and Principal Conductor, Maestro Charles Dutoit.
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