Animateurs: Rachel Leach

25 May
Rachel Leach (photo ©

Rachel Leach (photo © Olivia Hemingway)

My first encounter with LSO Discovery was back in 1998 – I auditioned for the post of Assistant Animateur without, I can now admit, knowing anything about the role or the department. My audition day included helping out during a family workshop at the Barbican. I was assisting Mark Withers, collaborating with LSO players and helping children make music based around Copland’s Appalachian Spring – a piece I only vaguely remembered from my distant A levels. I blagged my way through the session pretty well and was putting on my coat to leave when another group of children arrived and I realised we had to do it all over again.

When that was done I exhaustedly put my coat on only to discover that I was expected to attend the concert – coat off again and an early lesson learned … they work you hard at the LSO.

The family concert that followed was amazing and within seconds I was hooked. I sat there as spellbound as an 8 year old watching Richard McNicol skillfully unpick several large and famous pieces based on the theme of America, and afterwards I couldn’t stop thinking about what I’d do up there on that stage with that fantastic orchestra if I ever got the chance. Needless to say I got the job and several years later was asked to present my own Family Concert. Even though by that time I knew all the players well and had planned and planned and planned (no more blagging, this is the LSO!), that afternoon stepping on to the stage with them brought back the same sense of wonder I’d had back at my audition.

I’ve been working with the Orchestra now for 12 years and every time I step on stage with them, either here at the Barbican, at LSO St Luke’s or abroad I still get that same excited tingle. I love this orchestra, and I love my job. Each day is different and the experiences we’ve had in schools, community centres, in hospitals, at LSO St Luke’s and around the globe would fill books and books. I do always try to remember that first time I heard them play and was firmly bitten by the LSO bug and I try in my workshops to pass on that spark of excitement to everyone I meet.

Rachel Leach, Animateur

Rachel Leach presents the free Friday Lunchtime Concerts at LSO St Luke’s, of which the final concert of this season is on 11 June; the LSO Discovery 20th Anniversary Celebration Concert on 28 June; and she will present a Family Concert at the Barbican on 19 February 2011.


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