Doctors’ Orchestra creates a first for Cadogan Hall with Rachmaninov symphony

Rachmaninov’s thrilling Symphony No.1 will provide the climax to The Doctors’ Orchestra’s concert in aid of Freedom from Torture at London’s Cadogan Hall. The concert on 27 February will be the first occasion on which that the piece has ever been played at the Hall.

Since 2010, Doctors’ Orchestra conductor Stephen Brearley, a consultant surgeon, has garnered a unique ensemble of gifted doctor-musicians from across the world to give an annual gala concert in support of Freedom from Torture.

The 75-strong orchestra straddles the medical profession, from GPs to obstetricians and surgeons to psychiatrists. The doctors book leave from their busy medic schedules to participate in the concert and in the intensive three days of rehearsals beforehand.

Though it is often said that doctors have a particular aptitude for music, conductor Mr Brearley muses that there appears to be no correlation between choice of instrument, whether strings, brass, woodwind or percussion, and specialty.

But at a time when the world seems to be becoming a less sympathetic place, raising funds for torture survivors is a key incentive for keen musicians to come together to play. He says:

“It’s very restorative to have a parallel life to the demanding work pressures and difficult decisions that have to be made as a doctor. It’s very nice to step out of it to play for a charity like Freedom from Torture which helps to restore scarred people to health.”

Opening with Berlioz’s sparky Overture “Beatrice and Bendedict”, the orchestra will be joined this year by the impressive Portuguese soprano Susana Gaspar for Strauss’s Four Last Songs. Susana’s talent has earned her international recognition.  She has been a member of the Royal Opera House’s Jette Parker Young Artists Programme and was a finalist in BBC’s Cardiff Singer of the World competition in 2013.

But the greatest challenge will be that Rachmaninov symphony, poorly received by an unappreciative audience when it was first performed in 1897. So neglected was it that it was not premiered in the UK until 1964. It has since come to be recognised as a masterpiece and the concert will give the audience a rare opportunity to hear this wonderful symphony with its troubled history.  

All proceeds raised through ticket sales will go directly to Freedom from Torture. If you can't make it but would still like to donate, you can do so on our donate page.

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