Man pays £100k to hire orchestra for girlfriend

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The Independent Culture
p>A businessman in Dorset has spent £100,000 to hire the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra to play his girlfriend's favourite piece of music.

p>A businessman in Dorset has spent £100,000 to hire the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra to play his girlfriend's favourite piece of music.

John Barker organised the concert at the Royal Festival Hall on Sunday for his girlfriend, Heather. The programme will include Leos Janacek's Sinfonietta, which is seldom played because it needs a full orchestra plus 12 trumpets.

The couple met through work five years ago, at the country outfitters that Mr Barker runs in Dorchester, where she works as a website designer. Their friendship blossomed into romance last year after she nursed Mr Barker through a near-fatal illness. During his recovery Heather played Mr Barker the Czech composer's Sinfonietta and confided that it was her lifelong ambition to hear the piece performed. Mr Barker decided to realise her dream.

The Royal Festival Hall said it had a cancellation on 15 May, which he begged them to hold for him. He then persuaded the Royal Philharmonic to hire the trumpets and bookedNicola Benedetti, the BBC Young Musician of the Year 2004.

The concert will include the premiere of a composition by Sir John Tavener dedicated to Benedetti,Fragments for the Virgin.

Mr Barker said: "Heather did everything to make me better ... She had absolutely no idea. She hardly believed me when I told her." Tickets have gone on sale to the public and the couple plan to sit in the auditorium with the rest of the paying public, rather than take a box.

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