"Tonight's Friday Night Is Music Night comes to you live from Golders Green Hippodrome.  The BBC Concert Orchestra with its leader Arthur Levins."

In 1975 that was my first full-time job and Arthur Levins was my first leader.  He was an experienced player, a gentleman.  He was unflappable.

But one thing that did get him going was when conductors would tell when or not to use vibrato.  Arthur was adamant about vibrato.  For him, vibrato was something that comes from the heart. An expression of soul. Not a thing just to be switched on or off.


In our parts we pencil SV to indicate when a conductor wants Senza Vibrato.  It's an often used part of a conductor's arsenal.

When parts emerge for future performances, perhaps weeks or years later, the SV markings are still there. Will the next maestro want the same?

The question often comes from the back of the section because they can see SV marked in their part. Yet someone in front of them is having a good old wobble. The inevitable question then gets passed forward desk by desk until it gets to the second desk.  That's where the questions get filtered.  Is it worth bothering the leader with?

The leader then has to wait for a suitable moment to ask the maestro for his/her thoughts. The response 9 times out of 10 is ... ah well perhaps "poco vibrato." That way nobody is offended. No previous maestro's genius has been rubbished.


This week we had a fabulous time with Fabio Luisi.  He was a delight to play for.  The orchestra in the palm of his hand. His gestures graceful, perfumed.  He caressed with open fingers. What a sound. 

In the rehearsal on the day of the concert we played all pieces without any last minute fixes. An affirmation of trust and beauty.

In the first rehearsal with Fabio one of those inevitable questions about SV came from the back of the cello section. Fabio's response was simple ... " I don't think I even know how to spell "Senza Vibrato". 

Last night's concert in the Barbican Hall was the last time I will play Schubert's Unfinished Symphony. It was very special. Thank you LSO. Thank you Fabio.