Ron Prussing

Jamie Kennedy spoke with Australian trombonist Ron Prussing in advance of his performances at the Sydney International Brass Festival in July 2013. Ron has been Principal Trombonist of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra for many years.


Jamie: Although your primary occupation is as Principal Trombonist with the SSO, you’re also well known through a number of other musical activities. Can you tell me about some of the things that make up your musical life?

Ron: Well, I conduct the Ku-ring-gai Philharmonic Orchestra, which is one of the better community orchestras here in Sydney; I used to conduct brass bands – for seventeen years I was the musical director of the Salvation Army Congress Hall Band here in Sydney, and I also conduct a contesting band in Newcastle named Waratah Brass; and I also have taught and continue to teach at the Sydney Conservatorium as well as privately.

Jamie: With all those ensembles you’ve mentioned, there’s quite a bit of community music in there, is that important?

Ron: Oh I think it’s very important, because in the community there are so many people that are, if you like, tangentially connected with music, and you’ll find that out of those groups there are people who are active listeners or who want to move on to a professional career of some sort.  For instance, in my Ku-ring-gai Phil orchestra, I would very rarely, indeed never, go to a rehearsal where someone doesn’t come up to me and say “I was at the concert last week” or “I heard the [Sydney Symphony] orchestra play last night” – these people are vitally involved in being part of the audience of the professional music industry. And they join these groups because they took music lessons at some stage, they achieve a degree of technical and musical proficiency, and their life’s journey didn’t necessarily lead them to make a career working as a musician. But they still love it, they still love the music, still love being part of it, and being able to recreate those notes on the page into a living performance.

Jamie: So they are still part of that network?

Ron: Yeah, and it’s as important to be out in that community doing that stuff as it is to be educating our children, because both these people, and the children they educate, are the music and audiences of the present and future. And so to take an interest in it is, I think, very, very important for the present and for the future of audiences for classical music.

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3 responses

  1. I first met Ron in the 1960’s or early 70’s when he came to Nowra with a group of Con students to play with and inspire the pupils of the Nowra High School. My love of the trombone has been lifelong and like Ron I spend a lot of time encouraging my students in the love of music. I still have the tape of that concert as well as tapes of the ITA concerts which Ron played at in 1984 in Canberra. I am 85 now, still playing teaching and still learning and thanks to U- Tube encouraging my pupils to listen and learn. I think that the standard of our younger players is far superior to what it was in my day. I studied at the Con with Bill Fellowes and Harry Larsen and they set very high standards, but in general the players and teachers these days are much more willing to share their knowledge. Unless we listened to 78 records we hardly ever heard players from out side Australia and we did most our listening from the radio. As with all teachers some of my pupils are now teachers themselves and sharing their knowledge with their pupils. I enjoyed reading the article and I used to go to conferences but as my partner is ill I find it hard to get away. Old trombone players never die, they just blow away. Max Croot