Interview with Gareth Davies

Gareth Davies is a flute player with the London Symphony Orchestra. He blogs with other LSO musicians at the LSO on Tour blog. He kindly agreed to a short interview...

1. What attracted you to the flute?
I saw Jimmy Galway on a Blue Peter and he said that he flute was an easy instrument to play. I originally wanted to play the trumpet but my parents thought it was too loud, so they were quite happy. To be honest I had always sung as a child and the flute was the closest thing I could find.

2. Who are your favorite composers, and why?
To play in an orchestra as a flute player I love playing Ravel, Mahler, Brahms, Beethoven, Ricard Strauss, long is this interview?

They all write so brilliantly for the flute, but I imagine many instrumentalists would say the same! I love playing opera too especially Puccini. When I'm off duty, I listen to a lot of pop and rock music and I am really getting into folk music at the moment, but don't tell anyone.

3. Which piece(s) do you enjoy playing most as part of the LSO?
The LSO is at its most extraordinary in the big 20th Century repertoire, any of the big symphonies by Mahler, Shostakovitch and friends are simply the most unbelievable experiences to participate in.

I do have a soft spot for Mahler 2 though. It was the first piece I ever played in the LSO in 1993 as a last minute replacement for the second flute. I didn't know the piece and so I was sight reading it and, I'm ashamed to say, hearing it for the first time in the concert itself. When the choir let rip at the end, I thought I was going to explode with conflicting emotions. It was always be one of the greatest moments of my life and the day I knew I simply had to play in the LSO.

4. Which composer wrote the most enjoyable-to-play flute music?
For me, I love the Bach sonatas and of course as a flute player the French school of the twentieth century, Faure, Poulenc etc. In the orchestra though I love Ravel and Debussy as it makes you sound gorgeous. After playing Daphnis et Chloe once, a horn player came up to me and said, "I wish that was a horn part!". Funny when there is so much great horn rep in the orchestral world!

Note: The LSO now has a recording of Daphnis et Chloe, conducted by Valery Gergiev and with Gareth playing!

5. How did you become a member of the LSO?
The principal flute job was advertised, I was principal flute in the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra at the time. I went in on trial with the LSO for several weeks of work spread over about 2 years. During that time there were several other players also on trial. After what seemed like an eternity, I received a call from the chairman and they offered me the job. I started in May 2000.

6. Where's your favorite place you've traveled to on tour with the LSO?
That is really tricky to answer! I love New York as it is so familiar as I have been there about 10 times. Japan is fascinating and I have many friends there. We visited India last year for the first time and I did fall in love a little bit, I really hope we go back. But sometimes there is nothing better than finishing a concert in Paris and going out for dinner with great friends.

You can read more about Gareth's and the LSO's adventures and recordings on the LSO on Tour blog.