Death of a principal flute

Death of a principal flute


norman lebrecht

June 29, 2020

The Royal Scottish National Orchestra has made known the death of its long-serving principal flute, Richard Chester.

A passionate supporter of music education, Richard performed in the Orchestra from the late 1960s until mid-1980s before becoming Chief Executive of The National Youth Orchestras of Scotland – NYOS. Through his tireless work and dedication as a performer, educator, administrator and patron, Richard’s influence reaches many generations of musicians. We send our sincere condolences to those nearest to him at this sad time.

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  • Robert Roy says:

    Very sad news. A real stalwart of the Orchestra and one of its most recognisable figures from that golden period.

    RIP, Mr. Chester and thanks for the wonderful music.

    • Leo Doherty says:

      Yes indeed a golden period of orchestral playing, Alex Gibson, Sibelius and Richard on first flute. I still think about it 50 years on. Rest in peace.

  • Anne says:

    Sad news. I will always remember him from my time in NYOS, he was a great supporter of young musicians in Scotland.

  • John McLeod says:

    Richard had a wonderful career as principal flute of the RSNO – but an even more remarkable one when he became CEO of the National Youth Orchestra of Scotland which became a superb ensemble under his direction – it’s repertoire covering much contemporary music which other orchestras failed to programme! He was a lovely colleague and his quiet authority moved mountains! His memory lives on. RIP Richard.

  • Nick2 says:

    Richard was also one of the original members of Cantilena, the ensemble of 13 musicians made up of members of the SNO in the early 1970s and the brainchild of its Principal Cello Adrian Shepherd. I believe he can still be heard as soloist on one of their albums of baroque flute concerti. Richard was a lovely friend and an excellent musician and administrator. My deepest sympathy to his family and friends.

  • Daniel Kellerhals says:

    I am so sad. It is a loss deeply felt by all of us involved in promoting music making among all people. My condolences to the family of Richard.

  • David Richardson says:

    I’m sad to read of Richard’s death. He was Principal Flute of the (later Royal) Scottish National Orchestra, during my time as CEO from 1972 to1980). He was a fine musician and a distinguished principal flute of the Orchestra under Sir Alexander Gibson’s direction. He was also active in promoting the well-being of his colleagues, serving as Chairman of the Orchestra. In that capacity, during our discussions and negotiations, he was constructive and undogmatic, always open to finding solutions to the issues that inevitably arise between an orchestra and its management. Away from work, he was also very good company. These characteristics stood him in good stead for his later important 20-year period from 1987 at the head of the National Youth Orchestra of Scotland.

    It is poignant to write about Richard Chester only a few days after the report of Erik Knussen’s death, another stalwart who served the RSNO with distinction as player and Orchestra Manager for 40 years (Slipped Disc 28 Jun).

  • David Pritchard says:

    I was at Ayton School with Richard in 1953 and well remember him working away in the old boys’ music practice rooms behind the meeting house. it was obvious even then he would go far.