This month Colin Paris, LSO Co-Principal Double Bass, says goodbye to the LSO, 'not retiring, moving on' after 33 years as a Member of the Orchestra, almost 30 of those as Co-Principal. Fellow players, past and present, look back on Colin's career with the LSO.
From Patrick Laurence, LSO Double Bass:
'To say that Colin has had a distinguished career with the LSO is, perhaps, something of an understatement. A member of the Double Bass section for 33 years, (he had freelanced with the Orchestra for at least seven years before that) he has been our Co-Principal since 1991.
During that time he has been a great support to whoever was playing Principal. However, due to ongoing Principal Bass vacancies, he has been required to occupy the front seat more often than any other string section Co-Principal I can remember. In fact , I’ve had the pleasure of hearing Colin play the major bass solos from the orchestral repertoire more times than anyone else during my time with the LSO. From Mahler's Symphony No 1 to Verdi’s Rigoletto and numerous sight-read solos on recording sessions, Colin has brought the greatest credit to himself and our Orchestra with his beautiful, refined playing.
The qualities of diplomatic leadership necessary for someone sitting Principal have come naturally to him. On top of all that, he was Vice-Chair of the orchestra for twelve years, serving with at least five Chairs!
When I first met Colin in 1981, it was soon clear that we would be the best of friends. For 39 years we’ve worked together with the LSO, and during that time our friendship has enriched my life. I’ve had the luxury of being able to take his companionship for granted. No need to ask, he was there. Another brother to add to the four I already had! He’s also quite funny, with a great repertoire of impressions and stories which make me laugh every time. Most importantly, I’ve rarely known him to decline the offer of a further touring nightcap!
So, off he is going to pursue a freelance career. 'Not retiring, moving on,' as he keeps reminding me. I’m hoping that some of that freelancing will be with us. Because when you’ve grown to depend upon anything in life, as we have with Colin, it’s difficult to let it go too easily!'
L to R: Patrick Laurence, Jonathan Lipton (former LSO Horn) and Colin Paris
From Matthew Gibson, LSO Double Bass:
'Colin Paris, where to start? Well I could talk about his sense of humour and his ability to entertain a crowd for as long as is necessary (or is it his tendency to drag a story out for as long as possible!?) I could go on ad infinitum about his sensational playing and his beautiful solos. I could mention the care and attention to detail which he applies to dealing with the section and looking after the instruments. I could also talk about the dedication he has to teaching the next generation of players. I could talk quite a lot about his hair!
But I'd really like to thank him most for the sense of calm and professionalism that he has brought to the job for all these years. Whether sitting in the number two position and helping the many trialists, or sitting Principal and taking control. Really, all I need to say is that he is a lovely, lovely man, a very good friend and we shall all miss him terribly … until he comes back!'
L to R: Tom Goodman, Patrick Laurence, Jani Pensola, Colin Paris, Joe Melvin and Matthew Gibson
From Thomas Martin, former LSO Principal Double Bass:
'I taught Colin at the Guildhall School of Music starting in 1974 and watched his assent into the profession with great pride. Little did I imagine that he would one day become my desk partner in the wonderful LSO! There is a great feeling of true friendship between us. Certainly among the best years of my life, and he says among his. We in the LSO, past and present, have a lot to thank Colin for – his attitude, playing, and professionalism – not to mention that most important attribute, a great sense of humour.
Of course I’ve known the family since the early 1970s. His father (also a bassist) was a colleague of my father-in-Law. My wife wore his sister’s hand-me-downs through her youth. A real family affair. I know his parents were immensely proud of him. I wish Colin love and best wishes as his journey continues.'
L to R: Colin Paris and Thomas Martin, LSO recording at Watford Town Hall
From Nic Worters, former LSO Double Bass:
'Colin was an important member of the Double Bass section, both socially and professionally. A wonderful player, he was the perfect partner to the Principal Bass and did a fantastic job himself when he had to move up and hold the fort.
Colin loves Italian restaurants and when we found ourselves eating in one Colin would often do his Marlon Brando 'Godfather' impression. He stuffed his cheeks full of paper napkins and, keeping in role and looking serious, he would then deliver some of the classic lines from the film – it always made us laugh.'
L to R: Patrick Laurence, Nic Worters, Colin Paris and Rinat Ibragimov
From Gerald Newson, former LSO Double Bass:
'Ever since I began in the profession as a double bass player, Colin has always been there, either hovering in the background as a young and up-and-coming bass player or sitting in front of me as a front desk player where he seems to have been forever. I have seen him start his professional life with strong, black hair and gradually, over the 50 years I have known him, seen it turn into an elegant, white mane full of character and wavy style. Toni and Guy of Knightsbridge did very well out of Colin's visits, I have heard from reliable sources.
I spent most of my playing life sitting behind Colin in the bass section and he was always able to rise to the enormous challenges required by a front desk player. Whether it be a Mahler solo or as a rhythm section player or quickly reverting to bass guitar. Colin always showed and expressed wonderful kindness and consideration towards his section and encouragement to young players joining the profession. His humour was legendary, his friendship invaluable, his experience profound and his understanding of the character of the musician's culture exemplary.
Colin Paris with Nic Worters, 1990s
I enjoyed enormously our LSO tours to New York where, after the concert, we would go to Greenwich Village and Little Italy to an Italian restaurant. We would be greeted most profusely at the door by the owner who would escort us to a select table. It was not until a few years later that I understood that as soon as Colin walked in, with his sleek hair swept back, good-looking Sicilian profile and coat draped over his shoulders, he was being mistaken for Don Colinioni, Godfather of one of the New York Mafia families. After that I was prudent enough to take a seat next to the emergency exit.
Colin is a wonderful friend and a musician with enormous talent who has served the LSO with distinction and honour. Colin, a happy retirement so well deserved.'
L to R: Colin Paris, Gerald Newson and Thomas Martin in concert, Japan 1995/96
From Jonathan Lipton, former LSO Horn:
'Colin has been an amazing friend and support network for me for three decades. We started this journey together in a Daytona Beach restaurant and haven’t looked back.
The hours spent wandering, talking and laughing on tours throughout the world have provided a degree of sanity in an otherwise potentially stressful world. In Tokyo we invented elevator roulette. Throughout the city the bars and restaurants and weird county music venues are scattered in high rise office blocks. We decided to get into a random lift, press a random button and come what may explore the floor we landed on. Some rather quite interesting experiences ensued.
Colin, thank you for not sharing movie plots and for always making a long story short. And really good news: you don’t have to touch wood anymore. Pat and I are so lucky to have had a friend like you, and I look forward to sharing retirement strangeness with you.'
L to R: Jonathan Lipton, Jonathan Vaughan, Patrick Laurence and Colin Paris