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Fiona Brett, COE Violinist

Fiona Brett

“I first met Claudio when I joined the ECYO in its second year of existence, 1978. He was an incredibly inspirational musician but he always had an amazing sense of humour.

He once had the amazing idea to play a trick on Joy Bryer, co-founder of the ECYO, when she was returning to Courchevel after a brief trip to Geneva. He suggested that we, that is the whole orchestra, should leave the grounds of the lovely conference hotel where we were doing the course, and hide behind a hill!!! When she came back in it was very quiet and she was told by James Judd (I think) that unfortunately he couldn’t find the orchestra!! Of course she panicked! Claudio loved these kind of practical jokes.

Another time Joe Rappaport had been given a water pistol for his birthday and brought it along on the course. It wasn’t very long before everyone in the orchestra and management owned one too. It all culminated in a giant water fight in Lucerne. I remember standing waiting for the lift when suddenly the lift doors opened and there was Claudio with a few others with water pistols at the ready, and we all got drenched!!! After this we were flying out of Zurich airport and the Swiss authorities were not happy to discover 150 water pistols as we went through security. There was one person though who managed to retain his water pistol and that was Claudio… he had cunningly given his to Ted Heath’s detectives who put it into the special security bag that held their real guns!!!!

After we formed the COE (with an enormous amount of help from Claudio), the jokes didn’t stop. When it came time to play an encore he would encourage us to ‘test’ him and as he gave the upbeat for Rossini’s ‘Barber of Seville’ overture we would play Schubert’s ‘Entr’acte from Rosamunde’, a piece very different in character! I will never forget the look of delight on his face when we managed to catch him out.

Claudio gave us so much musically, but he also gave us warmth and fun and laughter and I will always be grateful for that.”