Nico Schippers (Second Trombone) spoke with Dale and Jamie from The Eighth Position in advance of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra’s Australian tour in November 2013
What was the musical journey you took before winning your current position with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra (RCO)?
I started playing euphonium at the age of seven in a local wind band. I had daily lessons from my grandfather who was a great musician, and besides discipline and demanding a high quality of playing he also taught me how to really make music. After high school I went to the conservatories of Enschede, Rotterdam and Lyon, and played in some projects with the National Youth Orchestra and Gustav Mahler Youth Orchestra. In 2000 I won a job as Principal Trombone in the National Ballet Orchestra in Amsterdam, then in 2004 was appointed as Second Trombonist and euphonium player in the RCO.
The RCO was recently crowned the world’s greatest orchestra by Gramophone magazine. What is life like as a permanent member of the RCO?
It’s a good life. We live in one of the greatest cities, rehearse and play concerts in one of the best halls and orchestras, work with great conductors and musicians, and tour all over the world! Of course sometimes it is hectic and stressful, but overall we are privileged.
What are your impressions of the Concertgebouw as a concert venue, and how does it differ from other concert halls that you’ve played in around the world?
There is a slogan now which goes like this: ‘everything sounds better in the Concertgebouw’. I think that’s the secret. It really sounds better there. Your sound comes out of your trombone with a nice warm vibration and it blends perfectly with other players.
How do you see your own role within the trombone section, and what do you look for from the other members of the section?
As a second trombonist I create the connection between the principal and the bass trombone. Sometimes I have to support the principal trombone, sometimes I have my own solo and sometimes I am the key for [the section’s] intonation and balance. A second trombone can destroy the section, whoever is playing.