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Michael Thompson (Principal Horn) in Conversation

Michael Thompson

When did you first get involved with the London Sinfonietta? 
I first played with the Sinfonietta in the early seventies. Barry Tuckwell was the horn player in those days, and I was asked to play for him by way of audition. 

Do you have any fond memories or funny stories from your time with the London Sinfonietta that you’d like to share?
So many! Perhaps my favourite was witnessing Robin McGee’s double bass self-destruct in a performance of Colin Matthew’s Suns Dance

Of the conductors and composers you've worked with, who stands out in your mind?
It’s impossible to choose just one, but Oliver Knussen has always struck me as a genius; and I don’t often use that word. 

Contemporary classical scores often require some unusual techniques – what have been the most unusual requests? 
We find ourselves doing all kinds of surprising things; singing at La Scala in Henze’s Voices was certainly not something I ever expected to do. 

Do you have any snippets of advice for young players entering the contemporary classical world?
Don’t panic. 

Can you share with us your thoughts on the importance of making new music?
I hope it doesn’t need justifying. What’s the alternative?

We’d love to get to know you a little better! When you’re not performing or teaching, what do you like to do to relax? Do you listen to music to relax, or do you follow any particular sports? You tell us!
I’m very good at loafing about. 

Published: 14 Feb 2018