Saturday, February 20, 2016


Underneath the house I have a sort of 'Man Cave' which includes an infernal bike type machine where at the not so subtle of urging of memsahib I am banished each day to grind out 20 km.

It's the only time I get to listen to Radio NZ Concert and today they featured Mendelssohn's 2nd in D minor performed by the London Festival Orchestra directed by Ross Pople.

I grew up with and went to school with Ross in Hawera.   He came from a hugely talented musical family and together with his sister Sonya and elder brother Ted they formed the Pople trio.   Their collective ability was outstanding but Ross, who was a cellist, shone through as something special.   He was awarded scholarships to study in England at the Royal Academy of Music, the Paris Conservatoire and the Chigiana Academia, Sienia.   After graduating and at the age of 23 Yehudi Menuhin appointed him to be the principal cellist of the Bath/Menuhin Festival Orchestra.   He was subsequently appointed principal solo cellist of the BBC Symphony Orchestra.

In 1980 Ross took over the helm of the London Festival Orchestra which he now owns.   He made the LFO a household name through his summer festival called 'Cathedral Classics'.   He has taken the orchestra on tours of Europe, the Americas and the 'Far East'.   Also associated with the Pople name is the Southbank series at the Barbican, the annual Remembrance Sunday Concert at the Royal Albert Hall, the festival Dutch Cornucopia and the Virtuoso Piano series at Cadogan Hall.

Ross returns to New Zealand for our school Standard Five Class Reunions in honour of the redoubtable Ms Jones (unrepentant and proud Communist but hugely talented teacher and subject of a previous blog).   Fantastic company.   He has a holiday home in Cumbria to escape the grind of London.

Unrecognised in New Zealand.   He should be.

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