Festival 2014, Week Two

The first weekend of the festival has come and gone, and to great acclaim. I felt especially good about La Mer. There’s a piece that feels super satisfying to get right!

Now we’re into the second week of the festival, and there’s even more great music! The first of two concerts has three big pieces for me: Ravel Piano Concerto, Milhaud’s La Création du Monde, and An American in Paris.

The Ravel is such a tricky little piece, and while the usual trumpet excerpts are a challenge, the rest of the piece shouldn’t be overlooked either. Almost every passage in the trumpet part is a solo, and it’s a challenge to hop onto the moving train in the last movement. Stay tuned for another blog post about practicing that uses this piece as an example, including some detailed practice ideas!

I played The Creation of the World during my brief stint as a masters student at the Cleveland Institute of Music, right before I won my audition here in Calgary. What a great piece it is! A really fun trumpet part too. More than almost anything else, I think this piece is the perfect example of French classical jazz.

Gershwin holds a special place in my heart. After I won my audition here I played a few concerts as a trial, before I was properly offered the job. The first week with Roberto Minczuk, the CPO’s music director, was an all-Gershwin programme that was being recorded for a CD. Talk about high stakes! An American in Paris was on that programme, and every time we play it I remember what that pressure cooker of a week was like. If you’re interested in hearing that recording, you can check it out here

The second concert of this week, the fourth programme of the festival, is Messaien’s Turangalîla Symphony. If there was ever a once-a-career piece, this would be it. I heard the Toronto Symphony Orchestra perform it when I was at the Glenn Gould School for my undergrad, and only then did I really understand that some pieces that can be really difficult to listen to a recording of can work wonderfully live. Turangalîla is definitely one of those pieces for me. It’s in such a unique world of sound that there is a huge amount to discover sonically. As I’ve gotten to know the piece better in preparation for this week I’m really starting to wrap my head around some of its complexities. I’m playing the piccolo trumpet part, and it feels somewhat like playing an unfamiliar, extra-fragmented Rite of Spring, including the same gnarly transposition. In terms of execution, this piece is a real team effort for the orchestra, and also within the trumpet section. By this point in the festival every year there’s always a feeling of solidarity within the orchestra that comes with being run ragged, so a team pull like this has usually come off well in the past. Here’s hoping!