Essex Symphony Orchestra Reg. Charity No. 1000732

Site last updated on 15 May 2020

Spotlight on …

Stephen Pegrum - Cello

I started playing the cello over 40 years ago after my father told me that if I wanted to play the trumpet (having given some hints), I would have to practise in the garden shed! I think he was kidding at the time. I grew up in a very musical family where most Saturday evenings were spent playing piano trios and quartets with friends with Dad on piano and occasionally mum singing or playing the flute. It was in those early years, when Dad would go out and buy all kinds of cello and piano music and then help me play them, that I was exposed to a lot of sight-reading which has held me in good stead ever since. I attended Redbridge Music School until I was 16 during which time I progressed to Grade 8 and had the privilege of playing in the Royal Albert Hall.

After leaving school I played in a couple of string quartets and was principal cellist in the Woodford Symphony Orchestra for a number of years. In 1996 I moved to Chelmsford and joined a local string quartet and then Springers (amateur theatre group) pit orchestra in 2008. A friend then introduced me to Southend Symphony Orchestra in 2012 as they were short of cellists and I am now their deputy principal cellist. When I have time I also help out with Colne Philharmonic Orchestra, so juggling performance dates can be a little tricky at times!

My first concert with Essex Symphony Orchestra was in June 2018 after noticing that the Summer programme was all film music which I enjoy but hadn’t much opportunity to play. However, my favourite composer is JS Bach which stems from my early youth. I grew up hearing my father play Bach’s preludes and fugues and struggled to play the Bach cello sonatas, having been introduced to them when I was about 10 years old by my father! Being a professional engineer probably also explains why I enjoy Bach’s mathematical techniques such as counterpoint, fugues and inversions.

Naming a favourite piece of music would be difficult as I enjoy all kinds that have good melodic and harmonising structure and which ‘paint a picture’. Libertango by Astor Piazzolla (particularly played by the Berlin Philharmonic 12 cellists) and Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No. 2 would be high up the list along with anything from JS Bach (of course!). More recently I have started to enjoy military brass band music which may have something to do with my younger son learning to play the trumpet (he doesn’t practise in the shed!).