Dale Truscott spoke with Geraldine Evers, Principal Bass Trombone of Orchestra Victoria and the only woman to have held a permanent orchestral trombone position in Australia.
Geraldine: I started learning the trombone in high school in 1970 after trying violin and not being at all suited or comfortable. After a couple of years with my first teacher I started taking lessons with Baden McCarron, who was second trombone in the Sydney Symphony Orchestra (SSO).
My first gig with the SSO was (I think) in 1974, playing Berlioz’s Requiem, conducted by John Hopkins in the Sydney Town Hall in the Prom Concert series. I was asked to play in one of the bands that are part of this huge work. It was a fabulous experience playing with the SSO, even if I wasn’t paid. They needed a lot of extras and my teacher asked if I’d be interested.
My first paid gig with the SSO was in my final year of high school, playing Shostakovich’s Pines of Rome with the conductor Maxim Shostakovich. A player from the section became ill and one of the trombonists in the off stage band stepped up into the orchestra – they needed an extra at short notice. Baden suggested me, I was available, and it was another fabulous experience.
After that it goes like this…..
In 1976-77 I spent two seasons with the ABC ‘s National Training Orchestra, which was formed in 1967 to provide orchestral training for musicians who might progress to the ABC orchestras. It also provided a pool of players for orchestras to draw on when in need of casuals. I was sent from the Training Orchestra to work with the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra (February 1977) and the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra (June-August 1977).
In August 1977 I won an audition for my position with the Elizabethan Melbourne Orchestra (EMO) and started with the orchestra in September.
After three years with the EMO I received study leave in 1981 to take lessons with several bass and tenor trombonists in London. These included Dick Tyack (BBC Symphony), Peter Harvey (London Philharmonic), Ray Premru (Royal Philharmonic), Dennis Wick (London Symphony) and Peter Gane (teacher at the Guildhall School).
Since 1982 I’ve been back in Melbourne in EMO, State Orchestra of Victoria and Orchestra Victoria, which are three incarnations of the same orchestra. For the past year I have taken a well-earned break!
As for highlights, it’s hard to say. I clearly remember being moved to tears in my first season of La Boheme, conducted by the wonderful Carlo Felice Cillario, and it was wonderful to play in the orchestra for Norma and Lucia di Lammermoor with Dame Joan Sutherland. Turandot was always a favourite of mine to play, and working with great conductors is always a highlight. My year in the UK and Europe was wonderful – seeing the big wide world outside of Australia and meeting musicians who have remained lifelong friends. Undoubtedly, I will omit many highlights as I write this, only to think of them later…