STROKESTRA: aiding physical, emotional and social recovery

It was a shock for everyone, back in 1763, when a young Swedish man, who had suffered brain damage and lost the ability to speak, went to church and found that he was able to sing hymns.

Much later, scientists made some key discoveries: that music can tap into the healthy right side of the brain to stimulate the damaged left side; that it can benefit patients who have suffered from Parkinson’s, cerebral palsy, brain damage and stroke. During World War II, music was used on an unprecedented scale as an aid to soldiers who had returned from fighting with brain damage. And the scientific advances continue to gather pace.

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Alexander Shelley: ‘Sandwiches’ of Prokofiev and Sibelius

October at Cadogan Hall sees the start of a fascinating series of four concerts under the baton of Alexander Shelley, the RPO’s Principal Associate Conductor. Called Symphonic Soundscapes, the series pairs those giants of twentieth-century music, Jean Sibelius and Sergei Prokofiev.

One Finnish, the other Russian – you’d think Finlandia, Sibelius’ famous cry for freedom from Russian oppression, would rule out this musical pairing at a stroke. Not so, says Shelley.

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Meet James Williams: the RPO's new MD

James Williams

Earlier in our milestone year, we welcomed James Williams as our new Managing Director. Hannah Nepil caught up with him in a recent phone interview to find out more about how he’s settling in and future plans for the organisation.

James Williams sounds surprisingly relaxed. Perhaps, after only a couple of months as the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra’s new Managing Director, the stress of the role hasn’t fully set in. Or perhaps he is just concealing it. After all, as he points out, it takes a lot of work ‘to get under the skin of these big, complicated organisations. You have to do a lot of listening to people to get a feel for the culture and the organisation’s values.’

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Not one, not two, but three milestones

This year marks fifty years since Charles Dutoit's first performance with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra; since his first performance at Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall in May 1966, in a period Dutoit recalls as ‘an amazing time in London’. Now the Orchestra and the Swiss maestro look forward to celebrating two other major milestones – the ensemble’s 70th anniversary and Dutoit’s 80th birthday – in the RPO’s 70th Anniversary Gala Concert at the Royal Albert Hall on Monday 19 September.

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Latest News

  • Thursday 18 April 2019
    BBC Proms 2019 RPO Concert Announced
  • Wednesday 10 April 2019
    Tom Poster on moments of self-doubt to elation and the power of music
  • Wednesday 10 April 2019
    Diana Adamyan on Prokofiev's Russian lyrical soul

Latest Press

  • Monday 1 April 2019
    Francesca Dego "performing with the RPO? It's like driving a Ferrari"
  • Wednesday 23 January 2019
    Strokestra Features in The Washington Post
  • Thursday 17 January 2019
    Bromley emerges as a new home for orchestral music