National honour for Derbyshire musician

Graham Hall, a long-standing timpanist of Sinfonia Viva has been awarded the prestigious Royal Philharmonic Society/Association of British Orchestras Salomon Prize for orchestral musicians.

Graham, who lives in Pinxton, is a founding member of Derby-based Sinfonia Viva.

He has been awarded the RPS/ABO Salomon Prize, for his “hugely dedicated service to Sinfonia Viva over many years: as a timpanist, player and Musicians Union rep; and also as highly skilled arranger who has supported the orchestra’s extensive outreach work, and in doing so has inspired his fellow musicians to join him in going the extra mile”.

He will be presented with the prestigious award, which celebrates the outstanding contribution of orchestral players to the UK’s musical life, at a Sinfonia Viva concert on Wednesday 2 March at Derby Cathedral – his 56th birthday.

The programme, conducted by Duncan Ward, features Graham’s “most ambitious arrangements to date” of Mahler’s 1st Symphony, and Ravel’s String Quartet in F major.

The UK boasts many of the world’s finest orchestras, many of which have trophy cabinets bursting with awards in testimony to their brilliance on the concert platform and in the recording studio. Yet, the contribution of individual musicians within an orchestra often goes unnoticed.

The Salomon Prize was created by the Royal Philharmonic Society and Association of British Orchestras in 2011 to celebrate the ‘unsung heroes’ of orchestral life; the orchestral players that make our orchestras great. The award is named after Johann Peter Salomon, violinist and founding member of the Philharmonic Society in 1813. Each year, players in all orchestras across the UK are asked to nominate a colleague who has been ‘an inspiration to their fellow players, fostered greater spirit of teamwork and shown commitment and dedication above and beyond the call of duty’.

Graham Hall is the fifth recipient of the prize, and the first player from a chamber orchestra. He follows in the footsteps of outstanding musicians from the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, The Hallé and Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.

Graham was nominated for the Salomon Prize by his fellow players at Sinfonia Viva, where he was Principal Timpanist for many years. He served on the Orchestra’s Board as player representative and latterly the Musicians’ Union representative until he suffered a stroke 14 months ago.

With the support of Sinfonia Viva, he has been “re-orchestrating” his life by developing his music preparation work and remains a key part of Sinfonia Viva’s musical life.

Graham Hall comments: “I am honoured that my colleagues at Sinfonia Viva have nominated me for the RPS/ABO Salomon Prize.

“It is important for musicians to have a voice in an Orchestra and there are specific challenges for smaller orchestras whose players are freelance and work in many different guises. Although we are not working with each other on a daily basis, we are a tight band of players who share the same work ethos and commitment to Viva.

“I feel great emotional attachment to Viva. It was the first professional orchestra that I played for and gave me my chance at a young age.”

Peter Helps, Sinfonia Viva Chief Executive continued: “Graham has a special ability to enable what we all want to achieve – the betterment of the Orchestra and good conditions for the artists on whom we all depend.

“He has approached his roles as rep and player with commitment, integrity and passion and is an invaluable ambassador and advocate for the Orchestra – embracing the development of the organisation.

“Graham has also been increasingly undertaking music arranging work for the Orchestra. These are increasingly accomplished and often contain much that reflects his cheeky and cheery approach to life. He has not enjoyed the best of health recently but his determination to return to playing and music arranging has been an inspiration for us all.”

Graham Hall studied at the Royal Academy of Music under James Blades. On leaving London he taught for two years in his home city of Nottingham as a peripatetic percussion tutor before going freelance as a player in 1984. He has worked with many orchestras in the UK as well as Sinfonia Viva, including the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and the Orchestra of Opera North, where he held the position of Sub Principal Percussion for nearly 25 years.

For tickets for the concert at Derby Cathedral on Wednesday March 2 at 7.30pm go to  http://www.derbylive.co.uk

Supported by Rolls-Royce plc, Derby City Council, Derby LIVE, Derby Cathedral and Orchestras Live. Sinfonia Viva is supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.