Gordonstoun – World-Renowned Conductor To Deliver Prince Philip Memorial Lecture



 The Principal Conductor of the world-renowned Odesa Philharmonic Orchestra will today (26 April) provide a unique insight about music in wartime Ukraine at the annual Prince Philip Memorial Lecture at Gordonstoun.


Hobart Earle, a former Gordonstoun student, has presented his “Ukraine. Music in Wartime” events around the world since 2022 – speaking in various languages in more than a dozen venues – ranging from Berlin, Miami, Washington DC, New York, London and Frankfurt to such prestigious Universities as Yale, Cambridge, UCLA in Los Angeles, St. Andrews University and the University for the Arts in Essen, Germany.


Earle is now bringing his interactive talk and video presentation to Gordonstoun, situated in 200 acres of countryside by the Moray Firth, for this year’s Prince Philip Memorial Lecture – set up following HRH’s death with the permission of the late Queen Elizabeth II.


Just over two years since Russia’s 2022 invasion, the conductor will talk to more than 500 students at Gordonstoun about the challenges faced by musicians in Ukraine during the war. Delving into lesser-known elements of the history of Ukraine and the country’s music, Earle will pay tribute to members of his orchestra, many of whom are currently displaced by the war in Ukraine or fighting the Russian invasion of their country.


The performance will include video recordings of the Odesa Philharmonic Orchestra from 2014 – the year of Russia’s first invasion of Ukraine and the beginning of hostilities in the east of the country – until the present. It features various musical compositions by Ukrainian and international composers, including Valentyn Silvestrov, Giuseppe Verdi, Yevhen Adamstevych, Alemdar Karamanov, Krzysztof Penderecki, Archibald Joyce and Mykola Lysenko. Earle and the orchestra also have several upcoming concerts in numerous Ukrainian cities in the warzone next month.


Earle was educated at Gordonstoun, between 1974 and 1979, where he played the clarinet in the orchestra and during his final months at the school, he received a performer’s diploma in clarinet from Trinity College of Music London.


Hobart Earle, who has conducted the Odesa Orchestra for more than 30 years, said:


Despite all odds – and despite the daily air-raid sirens – the music continues, as best as possible. Music transcends borders, and this performance offers a unique perspective on the emotions of a country trying to maintain a sense of normality while dealing with the brutality of war. Ukraine. Music in Wartime’, provides a unique insight of how performers have adapted to living and performing in wartime.


“Gordonstoun instilled in me a love of the stage and a passion for performing, and I’m looking forward to returning to the school. It will be a real privilege to deliver the Prince Philip Memorial Lecture.”


One of the highlights is a video of the Ukrainian National Anthem played by the orchestra in total darkness during a power cut at a concert in the warzone in January 2023. Another is the March 2014 Flash Mob from the Odesa Fish Market, which went viral at the time, and has since been featured at the “5-Second Film Festival in California” and in exhibitions in Vienna and Paris. It will also be part of ARTE TV’s commemoration of the 200th anniversary of the world premiere of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony on 7 May.


Writing in the Gordonstoun alumni magazine in 2016, Earle said:


“When I left Gordonstoun in 1979, Brezhnev was in the Kremlin and two of the present-day members of the Odessa Philharmonic Orchestra were in Afghanistan. Without their musical instruments. We were on different planets, and the idea that the Soviet Union could cease to exist wasn’t even an idea. The world evolves, indeed: today, I speak Russian many days of the year, and bear the title “People’s Artist of Ukraine” – a country that wasn’t even an independent, sovereign nation until 1991.


“I never intended to be principal conductor of an orchestra in a country of war, but the tragic events of the past year have driven home the power of music as a unifying force for peace and goodwill.


“Nowadays, when I’m asked how I could’ve possibly managed to adapt to life in the former Soviet Union, my first answer is to say I’ve been a foreigner all my life. Of course, this is usually dismissed as superficial, so as a next step I quote the school motto to my unsuspecting audience and say ‘maybe it’s something about Gordonstoun in me’.”


The Philharmonic dates its modern history to the 1930s. As Music Director and Principal Conductor, Earle has elevated the orchestra to a position of international prominence, unprecedented in the history of the organisation. It was the first orchestra from Ukraine to cross both the Atlantic and the Equator.


Lisa Kerr, Gordonstoun Principal, added:


“We are privileged to have one of the world’s most renowned Principal Conductors back at Gordonstoun to perform his unique performance of ‘Ukraine. Music in Wartime.


“Hobart Earle’s talent and reputation need no introduction and his transformation of the Odesa Philharmonic Orchestra into one of the most eminent in the world over the past 30 years is testament to the high standards he sets.


“This one-off musical event provides a unique perspective on the conflict in the country and how the Ukrainian people are trying their best to get through each day in almost impossible conditions.


“We are incredibly proud that Gordonstoun played a part in Hobart’s education and I know his performance at the school will inspire our students.”

Subscribe / latest articles and news from our schools