'I've been around the ensemble since 1970s. It gets into your blood'
The Royal Philharm- onic Orchestra has something of a hold over Ian Maclay.
The orchestra's managing director first joined the company in the 1970s. Now, 40 years on – and with work at the BBC and the South Bank Centre in-between times – he is happily back with the famed ensemble.
"I've been knocking around with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO) since the early 1970s, so there must be a pull," said Ian, who rejoined the company in 2001.
"I think it gets into your blood. The company is run by the players, they are the shareholders and they appoint the management, so it is rewarding if they ask you to come back.
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"It is hard to resist, when workers normally want to get rid of the management – rather than ask them in."
The London-based orchestra, which performs 70 concerts a year outside the capital, is set to arrive in Hull on Wednesday.
Great Classics: Masterworks, will see the ensemble performing pieces including Sibelius's Finlandia and Dvorák's New World Symphony.
Peter Donohoe, a pianist who has performed 13 times at the Last Night Of The Proms, will be joining the company for a performance of Grieg's Piano Concerto.
Leading the ensemble will be conductor Stephen Bell, whose work includes helming the Queen's Jubilee Concert at Chatsworth House, alongside working with musicians such as Julian Lloyd Webber.
For Ian, the pleasure of working with the company is not just in the quality of musicians it attracts, but its whole philosophy.
The RPO was formed in 1946 by conductor Sir Thomas Beecham, the heir to the Beecham's pharmaceuticals empire, who used his considerable wealth to establish the company.
"He paid out for it from his own money, he could afford to bankroll it – and attract players from other orchestras," said Ian.
"When he died in 1961, there was no infrastructure in place – the orchestra knew they were either going to go out of business or would have to do something themselves.
"So they each chipped in £10, which was quite a lot of money then, making it £100 when they realised it wouldn't be enough, for each one of them to be given ten shares.
"The way it continues to work today is that when someone leaves, they sell the shares back to the company and their replacement buys them – there are no external shareholders.
"It doesn't matter if you are the first trumpet or somebody sitting right at the back of the orchestra. It is incredibly democratic."
The company regularly tours, including performances across the world.
"We perform 70 concerts a year outside London, and 30 to 40 outside of Britain, including a trip to the Far East in June. It is important for us to wave the flag abroad," said Ian.
"Occasionally, some of the players will say 'Not another tour of America'.
"The only response is 'You're going to Florida in January – who wouldn't like that?'"