Four long-standing musicians will be retiring and three new musicians joining the Orchestra ahead of the upcoming 2023/25 season. 
Four long-standing musicians Rob Shepley, Richard Wallace, Alexander Marks and Jonathan Small will be retiring from the Orchestra in the coming weeks. Together, they have a combined total of over 160 years performing with the Orchestra and will be sorely missed by everyone at Liverpool Philharmonic.Ahead of the 2024/25 season, three new musicians will be joining the Orchestra. Sophie McQueen will be Associate Principal Second Violin, Joana Correia Rodrigues, Second Violin and Matthew Brett, a former member of the Liverpool Philharmonic’s Emerging Professionals Fellowship programme, will join as Section Leader Percussion.
Chief Executive of Liverpool Philharmonic Michael Eakin said“It is a bitter-sweet moment to be bidding farewell to our valued musicians and welcoming in the next generation of players to the Orchestra. Rob, Richard, Alex and Jonathan have been a huge part of the Liverpool Philharmonic for many years and have each helped to shape the Orchestra into what it is today. We will always value their contribution and the friendships made over the years and wish them all the best in their retirements.On behalf of the entire Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra family, I am delighted to extend a warm welcome to Sophie, Joana and Matthew. We are thrilled to have these exceptional new musicians join us as we commence the new season. Their remarkable talents and passion for music are a wonderful addition to our ensemble and we can’t wait to see them take to the stage. We already have previous members of the Liverpool Philharmonic Youth Company that have gone on to join the Orchestra and we’re delighted to welcome an alumnus of our Emerging Musicians Fellowship this season, our learning programmes are an integral part of the organisation and it’s wonderful to see their long term impact on young musicians.”
Retiring Musicians:
Rob Shepley joined the Orchestra on 2 April 1984 as Principal Viola. He retired on 20 April 2024. Of his retirement Rob said: “Well 40 years have flown by and It’s time for me to move on. I’m certainly not giving up being a musician though! There have been many concerts and tours over the years, different conductors and soloists. I’ve always loved to play different music in ensembles over the years and enjoyed the variety there. Highlights like playing The James Bond theme on guitar with Carl Davis in a massive circus tent on Kings Dock for instance. Thanks to all my colleagues at the RLPO family.”
Richard Wallace joined the Orchestra on 3 September 1979 as Section Player Viola, he retires on 20 May 2024. Speaking on his retirement Richard said: “After joining the orchestra in 1979, it soon became clear that this was a city I could happily spend my career and life in. Over the years it has been an enormous pleasure and privilege to have shared the stage with so many wonderful musicians, past and present, and to have helped forge a close relationship with a remarkable audience. I look forward to crossing the stage and joining the audience from next season.”
Alex Marks joined the Orchestra on 21 October 1985 Section Player 1st Violin. He retires on 22 May 2024. Speaking on his retirement Alex said: “I am privileged and fortunate to have had a job doing something I love surrounded by such a great bunch of people. This Orchestra has a unique spirit, I will particularly miss my friends in the first violin section and string quartet, and the close friendships and bonds that are formed over many years”.
Jonathan Small joined the Orchestra on 2 April 1984 as Principal Oboe, he retires on 25 May2024. Speaking on his retirement he said: “It’s been an enormous honour and privilege to have played in the Orchestra for such a long period. From day one I’ve always felt at home in Liverpool, and felt able to thrive here with the incredible warmth and appreciation of our Philharmonic Hall audience, and from the people of our city more widely. My family and I couldn’t be more proud of our home city. I want to thank all my colleagues and friends in the organisation for their steadfast support over so many years, and to wish everyone at the Phil every success, which I hope to follow long into the future.”

New Orchestra Members
Matthew Brett will be joining the Orchestra as Section Leader Percussion. He is in his final year of postgraduate study at the Royal Academy of Music, and is an alumnus of both the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra Emerging Musicians Fellowship and the Philharmonia Orchestra MMSF Instrumental Fellowship Programme. Alongside orchestral music, Matthew is a keen advocate of solo percussion. He gave the world premiere of Robert Laidlow’s Phoenix as part of the Royal Academy of Music bicentenary celebrations, and was the BBC Young Musician 2018 Percussion Winner. He was also a Finalist in the 2021 Sir Karl Jenkins Music Award in association with Classic FM, and the 2023 Yamaha Music Europe Foundation Awards.
On his appointment, Matthew said“I’m so thrilled to be joining the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra as Section Leader Percussion. It’s an absolute honour to be part of an organisation with such an amazing musical history, and one that has contributed directly to my musical development, having been an Emerging Musicians Fellow with the orchestra in 2022-23. I’m really delighted to be embarking on a career in this wonderful city and I feel privileged to be playing alongside such talented musicians.”
Sophie McQueen will be joining the Orchestra as Associate Principal 2nd Violin No.2, She studied on the Joint Course between the Royal Northern College Music and the University of Manchester where she learnt with Richard Deakin. She moved to London to study at the Royal Academy of Music with Clio Gould. Whilst at the Academy she was the recipient of several scholarships, led many of the orchestras and successfully auditioned for the London Symphony Orchestra’s Student Scheme. She has been a member of Manchester Camerata since leaving the Academy, and has enjoyed working with a variety of groups including the Scottish Ensemble, Academy of St. Martin-In-The-Fields, Berkeley Ensemble, London Contemporary Orchestra and London Sinfonietta.
On her appointment, Sophie said: “I am so happy to be joining Liverpool Philharmonic after working with the Orchestra regularly for the past couple of years. I have always been made to feel so welcome in Liverpool and have loved playing here; the Orchestra is fantastic and so friendly! I can’t wait to begin this new chapter surrounded by so many lovely musicians.”
Joana Rodrigues will be joining the Orchestra as Section Player Second Violin. Joana studied at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. Throughout her studies, Joana learned violin under the guidance of Stephanie Gonley, Ofer Falk, Simon Fischer and Pavlo Beznosiuk. At Guildhall, Joana was awarded a scholarship for the duration of her studies and she performed masterclasses for András Keller and Robert Levin. She is a fellow for the Philharmonia MMSF Instrumental Fellowship Programme 2023/2024. As an orchestral musician, Joana has appeared with London Symphony Orchestra, English Chamber Orchestra, Philharmonia Orchestra, London Chamber Orchestra and Orquestra Sinfónica Portuguesa and worked with world-renowned conductors such as Gianandrea Noseda, François-Xavier Roth, Natalia Stutzmann and Simon Rattle. As a soloist, Joana has performed with the Angel Orchestra and Orquestra Sinfónica Juvenil and she frequently performs recitals in the UK.
On her appointment Joana said: “I’ve been really fortunate to play with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra several times in recent months and am really excited to be joining the orchestra full-time. Performing Mahler 5 with Principal Conductor Domingo Hindoyan was a special highlight of this season and I am really looking forward to the upcoming Japan tour. Joining the orchestra is the culmination of a lot of hard work and I couldn’t be happier to perform alongside such a wonderful group of people”.