PHILIP Dukes, one of the foremost solo viola players in the UK, admits that the first time he stepped through the ‘bull run’ of the Royal Albert Hall to perform in the BBC Proms, he found it both exhilarating and daunting.

The artistic director at Marlborough College says there is no sensation like it as you walk down and hear the applause.

“It was huge for me, that first time in 1995. I remember it was baking hot and I had commissioned an outfit to keep me cool,’’ said Philip. “It was the BBC Proms.’’

He was invited back again and again but it wasn’t until 2007 when Philip again felt a little nervous at the Proms. A live recording on CD was being made of the performance of Sir Michael Tippett’s Triple Concerto, recorded on the Deutsche Grammophon label. “It was with the BBC Symphony Orchestra conducted by Sir Andrew Davis,’’ said Philip.

This summer the musician is back in the hot seat again, but this time as organiser of the Vaughan Williams Festival at Down Ampney, where he will be playing alongside tenor James Gilchrist, Swindon’s own concert pianist Paul Turner, violinist Jack Liebeck, actor Anton Lesser and students from Marlborough College.

Philip has appeared with almost all the major orchestras including BBC Philharmonic, London Philharmonic, City of Birmingham Symphony, Royal Philharmonic, The Hallé, The Philharmonia, The Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Bournemouth Symphony, London Mozart Players, Northern Sinfonia, Orchestra of St John’s Smith Square, BBC Scottish Symphony, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Ulster Orchestra and the BBC National Orchestra of Wales.

“All except the London Symphony Orchestra,’’ he said.

He has also been featured as the solo viola player on television series series such as Wolf Hall, Dickensian and Father Brown. Award winning TV and film composer Debbie Wiseman wrote the music for the series and asked for Philip and his viola to play on the soundtrack.

“She writes the music for her own inner circle of artists, so she had me in mind,’’ said Philip. He explained that performing with a full orchestra under a conductor is very different from performing chamber music, which is more team work, and playing for film or TV is different again.

“Sometimes Debbie plots the scene but we never see it, we are just beholden to do what she wants. Sometimes, as with Wolf Hall, we do get to see the footage. Peter Kominsky was the producer and I had a viola solo to play for the trial of Anne Boleyn. I played it romantically and then I played it cold and straight. We put the two side by side and then Peter showed us the footage. He asked what I thought and I said I preferred the emotionally charge one. He said we would run with it. It was a fascinating insight.’’

Today Philip is no stranger to recordings as he can be heard regularly on BBC Radio 3. He is professor of viola at the Royal Academy Of Music in London and he is trusted to play one of only two historic, mint-condition Archinto Stradivarius violas. “They were made in 1696 and must be worth more than £15m,’’ said Philip.’’When the viola is in my possession it always has to be within touching distance so I even have to take it to the loo. I don’t borrow it very often - it is too precious.’’

He says it is a unique experience as the Stradivarius was designed to be played in a drawing room and his own modern Japanese viola was designed for a concert hall and recording.

Philip says that although his parents had a deep love of music they were not professionals but supported his career sending him to Wells Cathedral School and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.

Today as artistic director of Marlborough College he enjoys passing on his musical passion and knowledge to his students.

“I treasure my job, giving something back. I am so fortunate that is good to pass on that love of music and opening their eyes to new pieces of music. It is my biggest joy. It has been a fascinating 30 years of music.’’

Vaughan Williams Festival 2018 runs from Friday, August 24 until Monday August 27 in Down Ampney village, where Ralph Vaughan Williams was born in 1872. - Flicky Harrison