Conductor • Cello
• Born 1945
Conductor Ross Pople is the founder and leader of the London Festival Orchestra, a modular, independent ensemble based at The Warehouse, a converted Victorian industrial building located in London's South Bank. Pople originally started out as a cellist in his native New Zealand, and after studying with émigré musicians there he enrolled in the Royal Academy of Music. During his course of study at the RAM, Yehudi Menuhin took Pople under his wing and named him the solo cellist for the Menuhin Festival Orchestra; Pople also studied in Paris with André Navarra and Nadia Boulanger. In 1971 Pople was named principal cellist with BBC Symphony Orchestra, a distinction so accorded by then-conductor Pierre Boulez.
In 1980, Pople had an engagement as soloist in Germany with the London Chamber Orchestra, but the LCO had to back out. He assembled a group of friends under the rubric "London Festival Orchestra" to cover the date, taking the name from a recording orchestra he had conducted in sessions for English Decca. As the concerts were very well received, Pople decided to take the London Festival Orchestra out of its lowly, recordings-only context and transform it into a full-time performing and touring orchestra. By 1984, the group had made its mark, mostly outside of England, and Pople began a concert series entitled "Cathedral Classics" where the orchestra played concerts in the various large cathedrals in Europe; the broadcasts resulting from this concert series helped establish the London Festival Orchestra at home. After tours to the Far East and South America, Pople began to concentrate anew on recording the orchestra. A 1991 recording of Felix Mendelssohn's early String Symphonies for Hyperion proved a solid hit and helped re-establish the London Festival Orchestra as a force in recording once again.
In 1992, Pople and his wife, London Festival Orchestra administrator Anne Storrs, purchased and rehabilitated an old factory building in London's South Bank in order to establish a permanent home for the orchestra. The Warehouse, as it is called, has proven a successful and popular concert destination in London. Pople is an expert chamber player, and the London Festival Orchestra is designed to be modular -- it is not unusual to attend a concert program at The Warehouse where chamber works and orchestral music are programmed side-by-side. At the time The Warehouse was under reconstruction, Pople also established a relationship with the German Arte Nova branch of BMG, and while the London Festival Orchestra has recorded for many labels, the lion's share of the recordings have been with Arte Nova.