Longest serving orchestral players in Britain

Longest serving orchestral players in Britain


norman lebrecht

August 19, 2016

The London Symphony Orchestra has illustrated its new season brochure with specially commissioned pictures of its longest serving players and staff – anyone who has been on the books over 25 years.

It’s a lovely idea and, while no-one comes close to the international list of alltime longest-serving players, there are quite a few who have given their whole lives to the orchestra – none more so than director of planning Sue Mallet, with 49 years notched on the back of her chair (not that she ever sits down).

The longest serving musician is first violinist Colin Renwick, at 38 years.

All of which set us wondering who are the veteran players across the UK, the ones who have put in most years.

Post your candidates in Comments below.

belinda mcfarlane hilary jones

Belinda McFarlane (2nd Violin 25 years), Hilary Jones (Cello, 24)

photo (c) Ranald Mackechnie


  • Chi-chi Nwanoku says:

    I’ve been 30 days (i.e from day one) with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment.

  • Fred Pickles says:

    What a strange concept for a marketing campaign – incredibly inward-looking. Sure, honour these amazingly long-serving members of the Orchestra and Staff, but I’m not sure why it would make anyone book a ticket.

  • Tony Howe says:

    During my mere 14-years-so-far with the CBSO I have seen a number of players retire with 40+ years service – the longest was 43+ I think. There is at least one bass player still playing here after 40 years. Now there is no longer a compulsory retirement age of 65 these figures will increase.

  • amosjdmiller@gmail.com says:

    Max Isley is retiring as second trombone with the Royal Ballet Sinfonia next year after 44 years of service. How many nutcrackers/giselles/swan lakes that amounts to is mind-boggling. The trombone and tuba section as a whole has 108 years between us. (Our bass trombonist Dave Gordon is on 39!).

  • Dave Gordon Shute says:

    Max Isley is the sub principal trombone at the Royal Ballet Sinfonia, Orchestra for Birmingham Royal Ballet (formerly Sadlers Wells Ballet). He was appointed in 1973 and is still going strong.

  • Fairy nuff says:

    Congratulations to these long serving orchestral players. Many other orchestras have long serving members: for example the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra’s Section Principal percussionist has been in her job for 44 years.

  • Saxon Broken says:

    I don’t mind longevity…so long as the musicians can still play.