16 year-old reader Cian Malikides sent us this post from London about fitting some great trombone experiences into his family holiday! Cian studies trombone with Nigel Crocker in Sydney and has performed with the AYO Young Symphonists and the Sydney Youth Orchestra Philharmonic.
My family and I set off for London (en-route to Ireland) a couple of weeks ago to visit family and escape the Australian winter for a holiday. It turned out to be colder here at times…even in summer! Before leaving I received my excerpts for the Australian Youth Orchestra (AYO) auditions and kept up weekly lessons with my fabulous teacher Nigel Crocker. I realised that I would be spending three weeks away without lessons during our holiday, and if I didn’t take my trombone, three weeks away from the instrument. I was also devastated to be missing the Sydney International Brass Festival where my all-time favourite trombonist Michael Mulcahy is playing. Having asked Nigel how I might go about organising a lesson with a trombonist while I was away, he asked around and a few days later forwarded me an email contact for a friend from his AYO days who is now a violin player in the London Symphony Orchestra (LSO).
Through Nigel’s lovely friend I was fortunate to receive two tickets to an LSO concert of Strauss’ Ein Heldenleben, an offer to attend their rehearsals (unfortunately we were only in London for three days so I wasn’t able to fit this in) and the contact details of the trombone players in the orchestra. Amazing! I organised a lesson in advance with the section principal Dudley Bright, who studied with the famous Denis Wick and taught former LSO principal Ian Bousfield, another of my all-time favourite trombonists.
After 23 hours in the air with not enough leg space and some “interesting” food, I arrived in London to some rare blue skies. Arriving at the Barbican (the LSO’s concert hall) I decided that the Sydney Symphony Orchestra is very lucky back at home. The area around the Barbican is a dense area of commercial buildings without much sparkle – nothing compared to our beautiful Sydney Opera House!
The hall’s acoustic was just damp enough to project the sound of each instrument clearly and beautifully into my ears (something that the Sydney Opera House perhaps lacks a little). Ein Heldenleben was incredibly intricate and “heroic”. The lower brass section projected through the orchestra fantastically with Dudley Bright leading, the newly appointed Peter Moore on second, Paul Milner on bass, Patrick Harrild on tuba and second trombonist James Maynard on tenor tuba. Although Peter has only been in the orchestra a couple of months and this was his first time away from the principal role, the section’s blend was warm and never became hard, even at the extreme dynamics. I found the section had amazing clarity in the orchestra, without playing too short, at all dynamic levels. The performance from the entire orchestra and the conductor, Fabio Luisi, was truly amazing and definitely one of the best orchestral performances I have seen.
During the interval (before Beethoven’s Mass in C Major) I met with Nigel’s friend to thank her for the opportunities, and she took me backstage to meet the orchestra. The first player I met was principal trumpet Phil Cobb who was extremely friendly and had played an amazing concert, and Phil then introduced me to Peter Moore. Peter was happy to chat for 15 minutes about London, Sydney, their upcoming tour, trombones, Ein Heldenleben and my lesson with Dudley the next day. What a musician! If you haven’t seen them already, there are amazing videos on YouTube of Peter playing Jan Sandstrom’s Sång till Lotta and Tomasi’s Concerto at the BBC Young Musician of the Year competition in 2008 when he was 11 – he went on to win the competition. Peter is now the youngest appointed principal player and the youngest ever member of the LSO!