Meet the Orchestra ElenHaf Rideal

Elen is the Orchestra's Co-Principal Second Violin

How did you become involved with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO)?

I thought I’d do a few auditions during my postgraduate year at the Royal Academy of Music and I was lucky enough to have a trial with the Second Violins. I went on a tour to the USA for a month, played some incredible concerts and was delighted to be offered the No.5 position in 2008.

What was your first experience of orchestral music?

I clearly remember hearing Candide Overture by Leonard Bernstein for the first time at around six years old. It was so exciting to listen to. My sister and I would create our own orchestra with our dolls and cut out little cardboard instruments whilst listening to our cassettes. It was inevitable we would both end up orchestral violinists!

How did you find yourself on this career journey?

As a teenager, I wanted to be an architect, then a vet and finally decided that I quite enjoyed playing the violin. Music, especially chamber and orchestral music was always a huge part of my upbringing.

What is the best thing about being part of the RPO family?

Definitely the camaraderie. During difficult and tiring days, the Orchestra somehow comes together on stage and still has something in the tank to create wonderful music together. It's incredible.

Tell us about your favourite RPO journey.

I really enjoy going to Japan, mainly because I love the culture and the food. It's also wonderful to play at Tokyo’s Suntory Hall as the acoustics are crystal clear.

Do you have any pre-concert rituals?

Before a concert, I enjoy going for a walk, especially if we're playing on the coast. Then sushi and a little rest to focus the mind.

Must listens – if you had to recommend one artist or composer, who would it be and why?

Where to start... If you were new to classical music I'd say Leonard Bernstein, especially West Side Story. As a child, it was my introduction to how music can make you feel so many visceral emotions. However, to enhance ones classical music journey I'd suggest the recording of Ravel's Daphnis et Chloé by the Montreal Symphony Orchestra and Charles Dutoit. So many beautiful colours, textures and movement within the phrases.

Symphonic crossover – if you could work with any artist on a performance or project, who would you choose?

I would love to work with Lady Gaga. She's such and incredible artist and talented vocalist. The partnership of the majestic sound of a symphony orchestra and her huge persona would certainly be an impactful collaboration.

Away from music, tell us two of your favourite hobbies and why they strike such a chord.

I love painting landscapes and, over the last few years, have thrown myself back into painting under the name Celf Enaid. I also enjoy home improvements and love upcycling any tables or cupboards that look a bit dull or in need of TLC. I guess I love being creative even away from music and my violin.

Dream dinner party – who would you invite, what would you cook?

Freddie Mercury, Judy Garland, Billy Connolly, Aneurin Bevan, John Williams… I would cook arancini for a starter, then pulled pork, followed by a cheesecake. They wouldn't leave hungry!

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