Festival 2014, Week One

Every year at about this time, the CPO plays a festival of music on a particular theme. This year it’s “J’aime Paris”, and it’s full of great music with great trumpet parts. It’s five programmes over three weeks, with the third week just being an Edith Piaf pops show, so the first two weeks are where most of my preparation is going (though I haven’t seen the Piaf folder yet, so maybe I’ll be eating my words!). Luckily for me I’m getting to that point in my career where I’ve played most of the repertoire before, so it’s less of a panic than it has been in previous years.

The two programmes this week feature two of my favourite pieces to play. First up is the Saint-Saëns Organ Symphony, which has a really meaty trumpet part. I’ve got a few mental lists of pieces, and this piece is on two of them. First, it’s a part with lots of variety, making it a fun and balanced day at the office. There’s some lyrical playing, articulate passages, and loud ‘orchestral’ parts, so I don’t get stuck in a rut. Pieces like this help keep your trumpet diet balanced, as opposed to something that’s all one type of playing, requiring you to balance that out at home. The second list this is on is one of my favourites: low (well, relatively low) risk, high reward. Really satisfying to play (like, say, Firebird), but I don’t have batting average concerns about it (unlike Firebird). 

Then next programme features La Mer, which is one of my all-time favourite works, really a ‘desert island’ piece for me (there’s another list). I’ve got a soft spot for this piece because it was the first big part I got to perform in my undergrad. Every time I come back to it I remember what that was like, and how far I’ve come since then. One of the most satisfying things about my job is remembering a passage I really struggled with, and realizing that now I can play it well and just think about making it really beautiful. That’ll keep you going in the practice room, playing the long game.