Obituary: Christopher Irby, professional cellist and conductor of the Marlborough Concert Orchestra for many years
Christopher Irby moved to Hungerford in 2005 after his retirement as a successful professional cellist. His positions included nine years as a member of the London Philharmonic Orchestra and twenty five years as a member of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. He worked with many world famous conductors.
During his years with the RPO he also played as a member of the Forellen Ensemble which gave many chamber concerts throughout the UK. Formed to perform Schubert’s Trout Quintet the ensemble grew or contracted to accommodate their varied programmes.
Having settled in Hungerford he willingly joined in with the local amateur musicians and it was the Marlborough Concert Orchestra who asked him to step into the breach when they needed a conductor. With his experience, great musicianship and coaching the orchestra developed into the strong band that it is today. His rehearsals were a mix of technical teaching, encouragement, persuasion, musicianship and funny stories about his years as a professional musician which the players loved. Regrettably his failing eyesight and health finally forced him to step down in 2014.
During his time as conductor of the MCO he was also giving chamber concerts for the Hungerford Arts Festival with his wife, Carol plus retired RPO colleagues as well as local amateur musicians. These were all a great success, especially the Trout Quintet concert which had local actor and now Hungerford Constable, Nicholas Lumley, performing a comedy skit about trout fishing which he finished by singing the original Schubert song. This was followed by Christopher’s chamber group giving a performance of the Schubert Forellen Quintet.
These concerts were always followed by a convivial gathering of players, friends and audience members at the Irby’s house. Christopher’s natural warm and gregarious nature drew people to him. Always a bon viveur and raconteur his warm personality will be greatly missed by all.
Christopher leaves a wife, Carol and daughters Sarah and Caroline and six grandchildren.
Christopher Antony Ralph Irby - 22 May 1931 – 3 August 2019