RPO players reflect on the magic of returning to live performances

An image of the RPO at Cadogan Hall on 19 May 2021

Wednesday 19 May 2021 saw the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra return to Cadogan Hall for the first in a series of three socially distanced summertime concerts. Welcoming live audiences for the first time in over half a year, the Orchestra performed a programme of Mendelssohn and Beethoven with conductor Tito Muñoz and pianist Alexandra Dariescu.

With the RPO performing live orchestral music again, our musicians described the experience of coming back on stage after another long period of concert halls being closed to the public.

The experience of playing again in Cadogan Hall for an audience was truly memorable. I actually felt a bit nervous but at the same time thrilled with excitement. It was my first concert in 2021 where I've been able to watch the audience’s faces responding to our performance.

My day started with joy of selecting my usual black concert dress, picking nice shoes, making sure that I am totally ready. I had a chance to use the dressing room again and it felt like home.

The audience was warm, applauding immensely and I could feel their hearts have been missing the experience to hear us live. My own heart was pounding and I was happy to do what I enjoy the most.”  Ugne Tiskute, viola.

A photo of Ugne Tiskute

It was fantastic to perform of front of an audience again. The injection of adrenaline a live performance creates has been sorely missed and it was back with a bang in the Beethoven!Chantal Webster, cello, left.

An image of Chantal Webster, cello

I didn't anticipate how electric the hall would feel filled with an audience after so long, it was really quite moving.

Looking up and seeing faces beaming back at you for the first time in 14 months makes you realise they really are the missing piece to the puzzle when it comes to performing - their presence, support and applause provides an edge to a performance you can't cultivate with any other substitute. It feels complete to have them back with us to share what we do.” Katy Ayling, clarinet (middle top left).

An image of Katy Ayling (upper left)

Coming up in our socially distanced summertime series of concerts at Cadogan Hall:

Thursday 10 June: Virgil Boutellis-Taft performs Vitali and Tchaikovsky

Tuesday 22 June: Sean Shibe performs Rodrigo

See more photos of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra at Cadogan Hall in the gallery below (best viewed on desktop).