Tuesday, 25 May 2010

I woke up this morning realizing that almost none of the things which prompted me to start an online diary actually made it into my first post. I wanted the opportunity to be smug about managing to fit 7 kg worth of stuff in my pockets so as to avoid paying 12 Euros per kilo over 20. Actually that's a bit boring but there you go.

Today I would like to find a bicycle. Freedom of mobility is a must, and if I'm late I much prefer to pedal harder and arrive to play with my breathing at least warmed up than to run up and down stairs to train and tube platforms only to wait 12 minutes more, just waiting. A bike with a helmet and a mirror: seeing how buses and trucks (UK: lorries) charge past the curb around 20 cm from the sidewalk (UK: pavement), a mirror is a must. And I must start on the side streets - stepped out onto a moderately busy street this morning after having only looked left. Look Right!

Tonight is my first musical rehearsal for the Globe. My face is in decent shape, but a bit confused... making a good sound and tonguing clearly on slide trumpet is completely different from trombone - given I'd been playing high A's last week in the ABO vespers tour I was a bit surprised to feel that I was using different, less-trained muscles yesterday. We'll see how it goes.

The ABO tour - before I forget. At the beginning I was appalled in many ways: organizationally, there were no notes for us to read from for movements 2, 4, 6 or 9, which we in the end wound up playing most of. Our fearless leader asked us to play along in the ritornelli in the Dixit Dominus, so I swiped the score from a singer next to me, asking at first but then came the down beat so I just threw it on my stand and started playing, only to find out in the second soprano solo which immediately followed that I'd nicked the score from the second soprano soloist. Oopsies. She was kind about it. Even carried my slide trumpet onto an easyjet flight a few days later.

Musically at the beginning I thought a lot about the differences in taste between me and our Maestro - he played really a lot of counterpoint during the soli, even during the already active Duo Seraphim and plowing through the otherwise ethereal "unum sunt" bit. But after one concert in Varese where I got to sit right next to the (trembling) harpsichord, I realized that even though it was concert no. 5, I hadn't been bored yet. Indeed, I was thankful that Ton Koopman was being a) inventive - playing different things every night, and b) completely convinced as to what he was doing. And also very musical, even if a bit mad. It was very good listening and I found myself looking forward to it.

I also thought about a conversation I had had the week before about whether or not it's a good thing if you can tell who is playing which line in an ensemble piece. In the trombone section none of us are blank slates by any stretch, we all have a lot of personality and I think it shows in our playing. Last week, regarding some articulations of the same phrases, we were night and day though (with and against the conductor's requests in some cases). It made me think that while it's important not to smooth over your individuality, as an audient I like to hear that musicians on stage are listening to each other: if they imitate each other, that's a form of dialogue, if they're all doing their own thing, they're being self-indulgent, which gets old fast.

A tour like this ABO tour was also fantastic for my playing - I had a few tension issues and seized opportunity to experiment with finding ways to relax over the course of 9 concerts in 9 days (and 9 cities!). Learning not to freeze my face into a polite Canadian smile in the concerti was useful. After months of being a control freak about exactly how my face should be, I began to just trust that if I just blew freely and thought of what I wanted to come out the end of the trombone, the right parts of my lips would fall into place. It worked beautifully. It has been 18 years after all.


  1. Thanks for this Catherine. It will help me keep up with you, and also help me to understand what is happening on stage when I get the chance to listen to you. But do be careful of the lorries -- look right (and left -- it may be a one-way street!!)

  2. Looking forward to exploring London vicariously with you. Hope you manage to keep the blog going. It's fun to read a good writer, and especially fun to read a musician who knows how to write about music.

    Split a lip at the Globe. :D