Player Profile: Chantal Webster, Cello

Chantal Webster

How did you become involved with the RPO?
I joined the cello section of the RPO in 2003.

What is the best thing about being a member of the RPO?
One of the best things about being in the RPO is being able to see amazing places around the world and still get paid! Places that stand out are the Great Wall of China, the Mexican pyramids at Teotihuacán, riding San Francisco cable cars and attending a starlit castle-top party in Dubrovnik. 

What inspired you to become a musician as a child?
I had been learning the piano from the age of four, then aged 9 I heard a cello demonstration at school and loved the sound – I immediately wanted to learn it.

Who have you enjoyed working with the most whilst in the RPO?
I’ve always really enjoyed working with Daniele Gatti – his concerts are always very exciting. Recently I loved working with Jean-Yves Thibaudet on our USA Tour. He’s a wonderful pianist. I also enjoy working with celebrities like Shirley Bassey or Lulu – it’s great to see such famous people close up!

Where is your favourite place to perform?
My favourite place that we have toured to is Lucerne in Switzerland. It’s such a beautiful setting: mountains in the background, a gorgeous old town to explore and a great concert hall set on the lake.

What has been the most valuable piece of advice you have been given in relation to music, and who was it from?
The most valuable piece of advice I was ever given was from my old teacher Clive Greensmith who used to be Principal Cello of the RPO. It seems so obvious, but he taught me how to really listen to every note. It’s too easy just to play all the notes on the page without actually listening to the sound that’s coming out.

Do you have a defining favourite moment of your musical career?
My favourite musical moment has to be performing of Tippett’s Concerto for Double String Orchestra with Paavo Bergland. The cellos were lined up at the back where the wind section normally sits and it was an amazing concert. I’d love to play that piece again.

If you could learn to play another/different instrument, which would it be and why?
If I didn’t play the cello I would’ve loved to have been a singer. I think it’s incredible that the human body can make such an amazing noise without any props! 

What was the first recording you ever bought?
The first record I bought was Baggy Trousers by Madness! I used to use the library at school and university a lot so didn’t buy classical recordings until I was a bit older but Brahms’ Fourth Symphony, Rachmaninov’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, Schubert’s Quintet and La Bohème were early favorites of mine.

What do you listen to in your spare time?
When I’m at home I like to listen to music that I don’t play, such as pop, jazz, opera or piano music. But as I’m surrounded by noise every day (partly due to my two young children!) sometimes I just relish a bit of silence!

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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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