On Saturday afternoon, I went to a rehearsal. As far as rehearsals go, it was fairly same old-same old. Turn up, get out your horn (preferably one that you warmed up earlier), and have a good old blow. However, it’s not every orchestra rehearsal that I get to sit next to the principal trumpet player in the BBC Symphony Orchestra.
Let me tell you, it was an absolute pleasure, although before I go further, I must clear up any possible misunderstandings; I was not depping in the BBC Symphony Orchestra I’m afraid. I was actually at a learning thing. It has been a while since I learnt anything on the trumpet (apart from the knowledge that almost 20 years of playing is worth nothing if you don’t pick it up for a month), so it was quite a novelty to be attending something educational.
We played through Tchaikovsky’s 6th Symphony, which is one of my favourites. First of all, it is a beautiful and exciting piece. Second of all, there are a lot of interesting moments for the trumpets, which, in the world of orchestral playing, is not necessarily a given.
It was so nice to sit next to a world class player. It has been a while, and it certainly makes you remember to pay attention. Things didn’t sound too shabby either, thankfully! Over a few chatters and chuckles, I smiled to myself as I realised trumpet players are basically the same the world over. Great sense of humour? Check. Cheeky streak? Check. Mildly arrogant feeling of being above the rest of the orchestra? Check. (The platformed seating really doesn’t help.)
All in all, it was a great afternoon, and I’m glad I went. I felt a little bit in love with my trumpet again. Did it last into my practice session this afternoon? Regretfully, not. A Roy Eldridge quote that I discovered last week came to mind: “You have to remember the trumpet is a mean instrument. Sometimes I feel like throwing it out the window, it’s such a beast. There are times when it treats you so sweet and nice that everything comes out just perfect. Then you come back to it the next night, rub your hands together and say to yourself you’re going to do it all over again. You pick up the horn, put it to your chops and the son of a bitch says, ‘Screw you!'”
Ah Roy. I couldn’t have said it better myself!