Raymond Munnecom (Bass 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)?
As a youngster I started playing on brass instruments (alto horn, baritone and euphonium) in a small wind band in the south of Holland. In that area at the time I was growing up (in the 70s and 80s) there was still a strong tradition of wind band playing. Each village had its own band, most of which competed with each other. At 17 I switched to the trombone, and one year later started my studies at the Conservatory of Maastricht, before later switching to Amsterdam. My teacher was the former solo-trombonist of the RCO. During my studies I gained some experience playing in various professional ensembles and from October 1994 received several opportunities to play in the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra as a substitute. I was playing tenor- as well as bass trombone at the time. Luckily there was a position available for bass trombone and in February 1997 I won the audition. As a member of the Orchestra this is my 16th season.
RCO trombone section (L to R): Jörgen van Rijen, Nico Schippers, Bart Claessens, Martin Schippers, Raymond Munnecom
The RCO was recently crowned the world’s greatest orchestra by Gramophone magazine. What is life like as a permanent member of the RCO?
In my opinion there are many great orchestras but playing in one of them means a lot of touring with beautiful music under very good conductors.
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?
First of all the Concertgebouw is our home base and luckily its acoustic is really magic. The famous old Concertgebouw hall is beautiful. Lots of great artists have performed in that hall. Like Amsterdam, the Concertgebouw and its surroundings have a certain historic atmosphere. The area with the Rijksmuseum, van Gogh museum and Stedelijk museum close by is a very special corner for the arts.
How do you see your own role within the trombone section, and what do you look for from the other members of the section?
My role is to give my best as an individual player fitting into the section as well as I can. Whatever differences there may be in characters or personalities, on stage you have to aim for harmony and team-performance in the group as well as in the orchestra.