Paul Silverthorne on lunchtime concerts and moving to China

After 25 years of playing in the LSO, we talk to Paul Silverthorne about his upcoming lunchtime concert at LSO St Luke's, his time at the LSO, and his move to teach at Soochow University School of Music in Suzhou, China.

Could you tell us some more about the three pieces you are playing in the lunchtime concert on Friday 13 November, and why you have chosen to play them?

I was asked to do a Russian programme. The Glinka is an early work from 1825, of which I am just playing the first movement which is a very lyrical piece and full of charm. It is the first Russian viola work of note. 

The great Russian viola player, and founder of the modern Russian school, Vadim Borisovsky, was responsible for finding the manuscript of the Glinka and making a performing edition. He also made the arrangements of the movements from Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet. He arranged dozens of works for viola to make up for the sparse repertoire from previous centuries and these extraordinarily imaginative Romeo and Juliet arrangements have proved extremely popular with performers and audiences. I have of course played this music many times in the LSO and remember particular the inspiring performances with Rostropovich. 

Stravinsky’s Ballet Pulcinella, was first performed in Paris in 1920. Stravinsky based the score on pieces of 18C music, (thought at the time to be by Pergolesi). In the thirties when Stravinsky was living in California, he collaborated with the cellist Gregor Piatigorsky and violinist Samuel Dushkin to make two suites of movements selected from the ballet. I have adapted the violin Suite Italienne for viola. In fact I did most of the transcribing work 25 years ago in a hotel in Japan during my very first trip with the LSO.

What is it that you like about being able to offer free lunchtime concerts at LSO St Luke's?

I’ve always loved giving recitals, and these LSO St Luke's concerts have a nice informality and a very keen and receptive audience. It’s also a wonderful acoustic!

You have said you are looking forward to having more free time in China to look over scores that you play and teach. Is there anything else you are particularly looking forward to?

I’m also excited to be living abroad for the first time in my life, discovering a new country and language. On the musical front I hope to develop my teaching techniques and work with the amazing talent that I’ve already seen coming from China. I’ll also be playing chamber music with my faculty colleagues there and returning to the UK often for concerts and teaching.

Do you still have plans on playing with Aglaia after your move to China?

We have some concerts together in February in Portugal and will try to keep playing together whenever we are in the same time zone!

After being with the LSO for 25 years, what are some of your highlights with the orchestra?

So many, Harold in Italy with Colin Davis in the USA, the whole Berlioz series with Colin (I’ve been a bit of a Berlioz freak since I was 16). The series with Boulez in 2000 was particularly wonderful and so many individual concerts with great conductors and soloists all around the world - too many to mention.

Should we expect to see you return to the UK anytime in the upcoming future?

Definitely, keep an eye on Facebook etc.



Paul's lunchtime concert takes place at LSO St Luke's on Friday 13 November, 12.30–1.15pm, and will be free to attend. The performance will also be live streamed on Facebook and YouTube. Have you got any questions for Paul and Aglaia? Send your questions in during the live stream with the hashtag #lsofridays.

Find out more about:
Our Friday lunchtime concert series