Thursday, October 15, 2009

Somewhat excited. . .somewhat nervous

About a year ago I joined the Gig Harbor Peninsula Symphony Orchestra. I was quite happy to audition for, and be accepted to, the 2nd Trumpet chair.

I don't know if you realize that that's a little odd. . .trumpet players tend to be on the cocky side, and don't usually 'settle' for anything other than lead. In any given band, there is a pecking order, and the lead trumpet stands at the top. The top to which the rest enviously aspire (note: this is the position I have acquired in the Down Home Band, and am enjoying all the glory and glamor there, thank you very much). So to be happy for 2nd trumpet. . .I realize I'm letting the brotherhood down, ruining our reputation.

1) The lead trumpet, Manny, is a really nice guy. And a good player, too.
2) My life is stressful enough, and there's something to be said about the lack of pressure in that 2nd trumpet chair. No expectation, no blame if things go wrong. I just show up, toot a few notes, receive the same applause as everybody else, and go home. It's actually quite relaxing after a long week of ministry. So I'm content.


This year, we've lost some players, and are fighting a tight budget, so the orchestra is taking a little break. Instead of regular concerts with the full symphony, each concert will be made up of smaller ensembles, mostly playing chamber music. Oct. 24 is the first show, and it will be our clarinet section playing . . .wait for it. . .clarinet music. Solos and trios and such.

The Christmas concert is in the final stages of coming together. Louie Labayen, our director, has hired in Jeff Orr, an organist par excellence, to play a few numbers (Jeff played in last year's holiday concert as well). In addition, he wants the trumpets to play some brass numbers, creating a festive feel for this Christmas season. It looks like, in addition to the organ numbers, there will be some trumpet solos and duets, and some brass quintet stuff, as well. We're talking about Charpentier's Te Deum, Handel's The Trumpet Shall Sound, perhaps a little Ave Maria or Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring. Maybe Handel's Alla Hornpipe.

In other words, lots of high brass, lots of exposure, lots of exciting playing. Exactly what Christmas ought to be.

But also, a lot of pressure. A whole lot of practicing. A lot of getting the lip back into shape for some piccolo trumpet work. Essentially, going from being the lowly 2nd trumpet player tooting a few notes, to being one of two or five carrying the whole show.

Of course, Manny's still lead, so more of it falls on him. But I'll admit it - I'm both excited and nervous at the same time. Excited because I love Christmas and I love Christmas music and I picture in my mind a glorious night celebrating music and the season (and yes, the birth of Christ). But nervous because I've got a lot of practicing to do in the next two months if I'm going to be ready for this.

So much for my peaceful little world.

The concert will be Saturday night, Dec. 12, 7:00 p.m., at St. John's Episcopal Church in Gig Harbor, so if you're in the area, come on by. I'll be the guy in the tux.

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