Meet our players: Tim Fosker, Flute and piccolo

An occasional Q & A with members of the orchestra

Meet Tim Fosker, flute and piccolo player with the NWSO.

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  • Can you tell us a bit about your musical career up to now?   

I was first inspired to play at school.  My first instrument was a trombone, which was far too heavy for my little 11-year-old arms, followed within a month by a cornet, which was thankfully much lighter! I was involved in many ensembles, my school’s brass band & orchestra, the local town brass band and the county youth brass band. At 16 I auditioned to become an Army musician, I was successful but was subsequently asked if I would consider retraining as a flautist instead. I said yes, the best decision ever!  My military training started in Bovington, Dorset from 1987-89.  Then in 1989 I was posted to Berlin as the principal flautist of the Royal Welch Fusiliers Band.  In 1991 I spent a year at the Royal Military School of Music (RMSM) in Twickenham, where as well as further flute studies, I also studied the saxophone and harp.  I returned to Berlin in 1992 and then in 1993 I was posted back to Tidworth, Wiltshire.   In 1993 I served Northern Ireland, in 1994 I successfully completed my Band Sergeants course at the RMSM,  then in 1996 after a tour of Cyprus with the newly formed Prince of Wales’ Divisional Band, I decided to hang up my military boots and pursue a career in teaching flute and saxophone. To this day, I still love to inspire young musicians through my teaching and currently work at both Hardenhuish and Sheldon schools.   I also play professionally for shows, as a flute duo (with Terri, my wife), recitals & orchestral work and have my own sax quartet “The Original Sax Quartet”.    

  • What do you like about the Flute and what is the most difficult bit of learning how to play it?

I love the varied tonal colours that can be produced as they can be used to depict many different emotions within pieces. As for difficulty, initially it was the precise embouchure placement to make the “perfect sound”! 

  • How did you become involved in the NWSO and what do you enjoy most about playing in an orchestra? 

I was living in Devizes and phoned the late, great Michael Oliver to ask if there were any spaces for an extra flute/piccolo player.  I was hooked after the first rehearsal.  I love the cake & coffee breaks in rehearsals, the joy of producing a fabulous concert performance and of course being the highest sounding instrument!

  • Do you have any highlight concerts that you’ve been part of over the years?

A massed military bands/choirs performance (Handel’s Zadok the Priest/Holst’s The Planets Suite) in the Waldbühne open air Amphitheatre in Berlin in front of 22,000 people on three separate nights, including guest artists Leo Sayer, Lisa Stansfield and Cliff Richard (who performed “Living Doll” as his encore). Playing at Buckingham Palace, of course and with NWSO it must be performing Saint-Saëns Organ Symphony No 3 and Shostakovich Jazz Suite No 2.

  • Has there ever been a catastrophic concert – either with the NWSO or any other orchestras/ groups you are part of?

I once travelled to a major town in North Wales to perform in a concert with the Royal Welch Fusiliers Band.  The organisers had forgotten to publicise the event, so we outnumbered the audience 6:1!  There’s never been a catastrophic concert with NWSO.

  • If you could learn to play any other instrument, what would it be?

I already play clarinet for show work and would like to dedicate more of my practice time improving this further!  I also have a guitar at home that I rescued from being scrapped, so after I blow the dust off it, I would like to progress past only knowing 6 chords! 

  • What music do you like to listen to (apart from classical)?

Having spent all day teaching, I do find myself switching off from music by listening to 5 Live (Talk Radio), however I do have a soft spot for the sound of a Big Band.

  • Who would you say has inspired you most as a musician?   

My Grandad was the head organist at Chelsea Barracks Church and when I was little, I remember him practising piano for hours and hours!

  • Any top tips for aspiring musicians (in particular flute players…)?

Set yourself smaller weekly constructive practice goals, it’s better to play 10 bars brilliantly than a whole piece scrappily.  …And remember, “every note is special”!  For flautists – focus on creating a beautiful tone throughout all registers by playing long notes every day.

And a few quick questions:

Favourite piece of music?

Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto in D major.

Most disliked instrument?

Electric Keyboard using the general midi sound.

Beer or wine?

Beer – Real Ale.

Starter or dessert?

Dessert!  Does anyone ever choose a starter over a dessert?!

Famous person you’d most like to meet?

James Galway.