A FORMER Queen Katherine School pupil with a passion for classical music has secured the top position at a prestigious national society.

James Murphy, 42, lived in Kendal from the age of six until he left to study music at York University.

Following a move to London, his career has gone from strength to strength and he has just been appointed as chief executive of the Royal Philharmonic Society, putting his success down to the teachers that tutored him in Kendal.


"I was very involved in music at school largely because of the incredible head of music we had at Queen Katherine School, Lesley Talbot," he said.

"She was just amazing. In music it's always about having a good teacher and people get their love of music from a good teacher. We were so blessed to have the music department we did.

"It all comes from Kendal. It was very much the musical culture of Kendal that set me on this path. Kendal put me where I am now, definitely."

Mr Murphy began playing piano and violin as a child and although he dabbled with the idea of becoming a journalist following a work experience stint at The Westmorland Gazette, music became his 'calling'.

Following his degree, he moved to London and started working as the assistant to Julian Lloyd Webber, cellist and brother of acclaimed English composer Andrew Lloyd Webber.

He went on to work at the Royal College of Music, the National Youth Orchestra and most recently as the managing director of Southbank Sinfonia, an orchestra that provides graduate musicians with a springboard into the music profession.

He said that his new role, which he starts in July, will put him 'right at the centre' of classical music in Britain.

The Royal Philharmonic Society unites the music profession and its audiences to create a vibrant future for music, supporting and working creatively with talented young performers and composers, championing excellence, and encouraging audiences to listen to, and talk about great music.

"In that role I'm going to look to see what we can do to champion classical music more and to share it with more people nationally and get people more engaged with it," he said, adding that he thought the best way to get young people interested in classical music was to simply listen to it.

"Classical music really spoke to me, I really felt it in my stomach," he said. "It was great when I was growing up in Kendal, there was orchestras and the BBC Philharmonic would come. There was an opportunity to have a taste of it and have a go at it and it not be presented like a stale museum piece."