The London Symphony Orchestra is deeply saddened to learn of the death of Roderick (Rod) Franks – a member of the LSO’s trumpet section since 1988 – following a serious car accident in Nottinghamshire on Sunday 20 July 2014.
Having celebrated 25 years' service last year, 23 of which as Principal Trumpet, Rod had recently requested to step down from his Principal position but to continue playing with the Orchestra. Rod had been beset by health issues for over ten years but would never allow them to compromise his supreme professionalism. Hugely respected and immensely popular with members of the Orchestra, conductors and audience alike, Rod will be missed for his ever-welcoming friendliness and brilliant playing.
Rod was born in Shipley, West Yorkshire, in 1956. He began playing the cornet at the age of six, playing for three of the country's most famous brass bands – the Hammonds, Brighouse and Rastrick and Black Dyke Mills. He studied trumpet with Philip Jones, Maurice Murphy and John Dickenson at the Royal Northern College of Music and near graduation, aged 21, he was appointed Principal Trumpet of the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra where he spent seven successful years before returning home to join the Philip Jones Brass Ensemble as Principal Trumpet in 1984. He went on to be a founder member of the English Brass Ensemble and London Brass.
He joined the London Symphony Orchestra in 1988 and, from 1990, shared the Principal Trumpet chair with his former trumpet tutor and great friend Maurice Murphy, before Maurice retired from the Orchestra in 2007.
Passionate about the education of future generations of musicians, Rod held a number of teaching posts and had been professor of trumpet at the Royal Northern College of Music, the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and Royal Academy of Music. He was also committed to many LSO Discovery projects, particularly the LSO Brass Academies.
The LSO wishes to express its deepest sympathy to Rod's family at this time.
The LSO concert on Tuesday 11 November 2014 is dedicated to Rod. A full set of tributes from Rod's family and colleagues in the trumpet section are in the concert programme which can be downloaded here.