Culture: Kelly's Eye Is on New Post; after a Decade as Principal Oboist with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Jonathan Kelly Will Rejoin Former Conductor Sir Simon Rattle at the Berlin Philharmonic Later This Year. He Tells Christopher Morley about the Exacting Selection Process

The Birmingham Post (England), February 26, 2003 | Go to article overview

Culture: Kelly's Eye Is on New Post; after a Decade as Principal Oboist with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Jonathan Kelly Will Rejoin Former Conductor Sir Simon Rattle at the Berlin Philharmonic Later This Year. He Tells Christopher Morley about the Exacting Selection Process


Byline: Christopher Morley

Jonathan Kelly is facing the upheaval of relocating his family, including three very young daughters, half-way across Europe this summer.

Though daunted by the prospect, 33-year-old Kelly is excited as well. The reason for the move is his recent appointment as solo oboist with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra where he will be rejoining BPO music director Sir Simon Rattle - his old boss here at the CBSO, where he has been principal for ten years.

'The process of getting the Berlin job is completely different from here,' he tells me in the Symphony Hall coffee terrace before a recent CBSO concert. 'It's all the opposite way round.

'When I applied for a job here with the CBSO, I did an audition first, and then, having been successful in the auditions, I came and did a trial. That's always the system, and then you might be offered the job.

'But there, they've had to get guests in since Schellenberger, the principal, retired two years ago. So the first contact I had with the Berlin Phil was when they rang and said would I like to come in and just play as a guest, which was well over a year ago.

'Of course, I was delighted, and I went over there to play. Then they invited me to do an audition, but I was touring with the CBSO in Switzerland at the time, so I thought that was that and I'd missed my opportunity.'

No one was appointed at those particular auditioning sessions, so Jonathan Kelly was approached again.

'A year later I got another phone call, and I was invited to go to another round of auditions just before Christmas with 12 other people.

'One after another we went in and played our Mozart Concerto, and then the 13 of us were whittled down to three, and we each went in to play the Strauss Concerto - which was quite gruelling because the pianist missed out all the orchestra tuttis, so it felt quite artificial.

'After that, we were called back on stage together, to play orchestral excerpts one after another. It was like a sort of penalty shoot-out at the end. Then they just told me I'd got the job, welcome to the family, and you'll have a great time.'

One of the many things that have been outstanding during Jonathan Kelly's decade with the CBSO has been the rapport he has built up with the other woodwind principals so that, for example, when they are playing one of the delicious interludes in a Mozart piano concerto, they all seem to be breathing, phrasing and blending together. How long will it take him to build a similar relationship with his colleagues in Berlin?

'I think, having played in the orchestra, they've got a very sort of chamber-music atmosphere within the sections, and they play in quite a demonstrative way. …

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Culture: Kelly's Eye Is on New Post; after a Decade as Principal Oboist with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Jonathan Kelly Will Rejoin Former Conductor Sir Simon Rattle at the Berlin Philharmonic Later This Year. He Tells Christopher Morley about the Exacting Selection Process
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