Wishing a fond farewell to cellist Hilary Jones

On Sunday 13 December, we bid a fond farewell to LSO Cello Hilary Jones after 35 years. Here we take a look back at her career with the LSO and hear from some of her fellow Orchestra Members.


Hilary Jones was born in East London and, whilst attending Redbridge Music School, was awarded a scholarship to study with Joan Bonner (FRAM). In 1971 Hilary started her studies at the Royal Academy of Music whilst continuing private study with Derek Simpson and William Pleeth.

Following several years spent at the Royal Ballet School and then the BBC Symphony Orchestra, Hilary joined the LSO as an Associate Member in July 1985. She became a Full Member in 1992. Hilary has a heartfelt belief in the encouragement of young musicians, and the sharing of music in the community, particularly amongst those with disabilities and learning difficulties. Throughout her time with the Orchestra, she has therefore been very active in LSO Discovery, working with talented young musicians including as a mentor to successful candidates of LSO Discovery’s String Experience scheme.

Hilary Jones

From Maxine Kwok, LSO First Violin:

'I only got to know Hilary well in the latter part of her career at the LSO, mostly through sharing String Experience scheme coaching workshops and a few happy weeks in Aix-en-Provence coaching the Mediterranean Youth Orchestra.

I have to admit that, as a youngster, not knowing Hilary very well, I found her a little forbidding which I’m sure she’ll be pleased to know! One incident which is permanently etched in my mind happened on tour at the National Auditorium in Madrid. I walked on-stage for the concert and instantly broke a heel. I raced back to the dressing room glancing wildly around for anything remotely suitable. I spied a pair of black flats, my heart leapt, and I was relieved to find that they fit. I arrived on-stage late and breathless, and explained to my desk partner what had happened, who said 'they look like Hilary’s concert shoes'. I looked over to the cello section and was horrified to see an empty seat. We were on the verge of tuning and Hilary was nowhere to be seen. After a few moments Hilary arrived onstage looking a bit harassed. The first half of the concert was actually fairly substantial and I played terribly as I was so worried about telling her what I had done. When the interval finally came round, I raced to the cello side and blurted out what had happened. Hilary looked very confused and said 'oh those are mine, but they’re not my concert shoes'. Turns out she had been feeling a bit unwell and was resting backstage, not realising the Orchestra were filing on!

We still laugh about that memory but funnily enough Hilary has never taken me up on the offer of borrowing a pair of five inch heels from me. I’ll miss the many laughs we’ve shared and Hilary, if you’re reading this, we’ll always have the the memory of celebrating your 65th birthday at midnight in Hanoi airport, having bought entry to the business lounge after that incredibly hot concert! What a surreal day that was. Happy retirement!'

Hilary Jones and Belinda McFarlane laughing during a photo shootHilary Jones and Belinda McFarlane mid-photo shoot. © Ranald Mackechnie

From Rebecca Gilliver, LSO Principal Cello:

'Hilary Jones, eagle-ears. It’s a typical three-session day, just after lunch, Abbey Road is warm and everyone is just a little sleepy. A question comes from the back about a possible wrong note – I don’t even need to look back to know who spotted the wrong note, nor really to ask the conductor if it’s wrong. Hilary, the ultimate wrong-note-spotter, is awake and alert and the note is quietly corrected – again…'

From Colin Paris, LSO Co-Principal Double Bass:

'I remember that on my first trip with the Redbridge Youth Orchestra, which was a residential course in Aldeburgh where we played at Snape Maltings, Hilary and another cellist called Howard Chilvers (who we both loved as he was like a big brother to us) used to make sure that I went to bed early as I was one of the younger members of the Orchestra. They also introduced me to my first alcoholic drink. They used to sneak me into the Cross Keys pub in Aldeburgh High Street and buy me a half-pint of cider with a piece of apple in it, which I particularly liked. The apple that is!'

Publicity shot with multiple players ca 1990Hilary (and some other familiar faces) in a publicity shot from the 1990s

From Angela Barnes, LSO Horn:

'In around 2008/9 the Barbican remodelled Dressing Room 10 into a Gents' loo (long story short – when the Barbican Centre first opened orchestras were almost entirely male in membership, and the positioning of facilities reflected this. Ladies’ loos were on the same floor as the Choir Rooms, but not the platform.) Anyway, as various women became displaced, the old Trumpet Room (Dressing Room 12) became a Ladies' dressing room, now sandwiched between the long-standing Horn Room (Dressing Room 11 – they had insisted they couldn’t move along one) and the new Trumpet Room, Number 13. Because of our various associations with those two sections, Hilary and I found ourselves now sharing a dressing room. We’d been friendly prior to that point, occasionally doing bits of LSO Discovery work together, but it was spending a considerable amount of time in what is a fairly confined space that really had its bearing on our relationship.

In September 2014, the LSO was doing a German tour with Sir John Eliot Gardiner and I was lucky enough to be part of the solo quartet for Schumann’s Konzertstück for Four Horns and Orchestra. The other members of the quartet were Radovan Vlatkovic, Jonathan Lipton and Timothy Jones (Timothy being the most relevant to this particular story). Many halls abroad seem to have large, open dressing rooms, one of which will get allocated to the women of the orchestra. Craving a smaller, generally quieter setting, upon arrival at any foreign hall, Hilary and I would often find ourselves gravitating toward the same (often unallocated) dressing room, which would become our ‘secret’ little haven. At the hall in Essen on the aforementioned JEG Germany trip, the signage almost made it look like the management had clocked our penchant for a separate space, which delighted Hilary – the fact that we’d got our own, named dressing room, near the Ladies, but still a separate space ... Until I pointed out that the Jones referred to might, possibly, be one of the horn soloists, Timothy Jones! What a hoot we had on realising the confusion. Known as I am to always have my camera close to hand (‘Paparazzi Ange’, to my close friends), photos were taken, resulting in a lovely way to remember an amusing moment on tour!

Wishing you lots of love and luck for the next chapter Hilary, I’ll keep on searching out those slightly out of the way spaces on tour and remember our natters fondly.'

Hilary Jones pointing to 'Jones' sign for the dressing room


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