The RSNO Community Interviews

David Heft, pianist and member of the RSNO Community Orchestra

David Heft recently joined the RSNO Community Orchestra. He started playing piano at the age of four and after pursuing studies in Edinburgh and further training in London, began a career as a concert pianist. His performing career took him as far afield as southern Africa with the Salisbury City Orchestra but after a brutal attack in 1976 which left him with irreparable damage to his hands, he found himself no longer able to perform professionally. Here he shares what the RSNO’s Community Orchestra means to him.

What prompted you to join the RSNO Community Orchestra?

This is very easy to answer. Quite apart from the fellowship of being in an orchestra, joining the RSNO Community Orchestra has given me back something of what was taken from me in 1976, and for that alone I shall be eternally grateful. I was so excited when I read about the Community Orchestra I could hardly type out my application!

How would you describe the Community Orchestra to other people who might be interested in taking part?

An absolutely unique and wonderful opportunity to participate in the fellowship of music-making.

David meeting RSNO Chief Executive Alistair Mackie and Director of Concerts & Engagement Bill Chandler.

What difference has taking part in our Community Orchestra made for you?

Enormous, absolutely enormous! You will never know just how important being part of and actively playing with this Orchestra is to me. Joining and being accepted by the RSNO Community Orchestra has made a wonderful difference to my life. It has helped tremendously with my regularly recurring depressions and most importantly given me back something musical to work towards. Now I fight a losing battle with my hands and general anatomy, but though I frequently have to compromise, I have no intentions of ever giving in to my difficulties. On top of all this, I am now, once more, playing on a magnificent concert Steinway, something I have not done for many years! For me? Sheer bliss!

The RSNO Community Orchestra, which has been running since 2015, is a perfect opportunity for amateur musicians to play together and is open to all, from beginner to intermediate level and to all ages. The orchestra currently has over 80 members and meets monthly on Sundays. Sessions are led by conductor Dávur Juul Magnussen and involve tutti (all together!) rehearsals and sectionals. The group works towards a sharing session at the end of each year which takes place in the RSNO Centre.