Get a life: Weary Royal Philharmonic records backup for Elvis hits

Get a life: Weary Royal Philharmonic records backup for Elvis hits


norman lebrecht

August 06, 2015

The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra is a London band without a role. It survives (on £1m of public subsidy) by slipping in between the cracks, going boldly whether no other orchestra can be bothered to go.

So the announcement that the RPO has recorded backing tracks at Abbey Road for a souped-up reissue of Elvis Presley hits draws no more than a yawn. It’s only the RPO. And Elvis is too long dead to object.

This disc comes out late October.

elvis rpo


  • Alexander Hall says:

    But if it’s such a band of no-hopers isn’t it astonishing that so many talented instrumentalists as well as players from other London orchestras have been tempted to join the ranks?

    • ex RPO MD says:

      A job is a job Mr Hall….. But the RPO has long been the last resort when there is no work with any other premier bands.
      Talk to any player,, they all wish for playing in another…..
      Bout time, now with their Car Salesman, (aka Ian Maclay) departed, maybe this tired bunch should disband?
      There is only so many times an RPO can be out on the road, which under Maclay was sometimes triple fold on the same night!
      Whilst having a gripe, that shoddy lot, the ‘c’list RP Concert Orchestra could do with disbanding as well. Have you seen their latest offering at Cadogen Hall later this month?!…….

      • Alexander Hall says:

        I fully accept the argument that without an organisation like the RPO there would be far fewer jobs for rising musicians. However, if you look at one of the other London orchestras with its endless programmes of film music and general dumbing-down plus out-of-town and RFH appearances with endless guest principals – and Norman has already drawn attention to this – you do wonder whether the so-called criteria of quality haven’t already been hopelessly blurred.

  • Jon H says:

    OK, but nobody is touching the Philharmonia or the LPO! Just have to listen to them in their heyday to realize the best player today could make them equally as good – no offense to the wonderful players in those orchestras now. [Just put them in a sympathetic acoustic.] They also haven’t tried to be American sounding, which is working pretty well for a number of American orchestras.
    The RPO certainly had a heyday, and the music Beecham personally admired at that point in his life perhaps gives clues of the direction to take. [Sir Mark Elder seems to have an affinity for it.]

  • Helen says:

    [redacted: abuse] The RPO is no different from any of the other London orchestras in its involvement in commercial work. Do you really think the other bands would have said no, had this project come to them? Of course not. Everyone is struggling to survive, the RPO perhaps more than others, and it is managing to do so fantastically well [redacted: abuse]Helen.

  • Helen says:

    This post will probably be deleted or ‘edited’ too but in the spirit of solidarity with all hardworking musicians, particularly those of the RPO, I would encourage Norman Lebrecht (and any other RPO detractors, for that matter) to tune into Prom 45 (August 19) and bring themselves up to date. I have past association with the orchestra but no particular agenda these days – just dislike seeing this tired and deeply unfair criticism. H

  • Nott Royal says:

    The Royal Concert Hall in Nottingham doesn’t have a resident orchestra, and Nottingham has a population of 700,000 in the urban area. What could be more appropriate than the Royal Orchestra moving to the Royal concert hall.

  • Johnny King says:

    It would seem they have done rather well…