Tim Thorpe talks about his experiences as a horn player
What motivated you to start learning the horn?
I heard the Brahms horn trio played at my Primary School in Watford when I was about five or six and from that moment I knew I wanted to play the horn. I was very fortunate that the school had a brass band and, when it came to choosing an instrument the music master was surprised that I could get a note out of the horn. So he had to let me play it in the band! Later on I joined a local youth orchestra and progressed through the County, National and European Youth Orchestras.
How did you get your first professional job?
When I was halfway through my four year course at Guildhall, the third horn job in the Philharmonia became available. My Professor encouraged me to audition for it – he knew I was not the academic type! I was fortunate enough to be offered the job and jumped at the opportunity.
What led to your appointment as Principal of the BBC National Orchestra of Wales?
My ambition was always to be a Principal horn and, after a year with the Philharmonia, the opportunity arose for me to take up the position with BBC NOW. I was keen to have the opportunity of playing the first horn repertoire and it has proved to be a valuable experience for me.
What have been your most memorable experiences as a musician?
I’ve been very fortunate and there have been quite a few. One that springs to mind is the Proms performance of Mahler 8 (Symphony of a thousand) as principal horn with the National Youth Orchestra under the baton of Simon Rattle. Another is a rehearsal for a concert at The Albert Hall when I was on trial for the third horn job with the Philharmonia. It was my 21st birthday and the orchestra played “Happy Birthday” to me. I played first horn in the Bruck violin concerto and was given some words of praise by Rostropovich who was conducting – one of the best birthday presents I’ve ever had!
Tell me about your new Compact Disc
I launched it at the British Horn Society Festival on 1 November. It’s a selection of music which strays away from the traditional horn repertoire and shows the instrument in more pensive mood. It is really a collaboration with one of my school friends, Tom Watson who runs Prozone Music and who organised the recording and production. All the arrangements were done by another friend, John Hutchinson and I was accompanied by colleagues from the orchestra. The CD, which includes a wide range of music, reflects my love of chamber music. I hope it will appeal to a cross-section of people including those who would not usually identify with the sound of the French horn.
What are your main interests outside music?
I’m a massive film buff and have shelves of DVD’s I like to watch for relaxation. You’ll notice I couldn’t resist having some film music on my CD. I am also keen on sport but the musician’s schedule makes it difficult to participate on a regular basis. I play football with a group of musicians when I can. I’ve recently joined a rowing club but so far I haven’t been on the water – the circuit training sessions are demanding enough. I learned to play golf when I was quite young and still like to play when I get a chance. I don’t think I’ll achieve enough Ryder Cup points to be included in the team to play against the USA at Celtic Manor next year but since I’m living in Cardiff, perhaps they’ll call on me if anybody drops out!
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