The Summerglen Files

Music, Creativity, and Everyday Life at Summerglen Music in Raleigh, NC

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Best Seat in the House

May 2nd, 2008 · 1 Comment

Felix Mendelssohn

This evening I played 3rd trombone in Mendelssohn’s oratorio Elijah with the Northeast Piedmont Chorale. The work itself is beautiful, and it’s easy to hear the influences of Bach and Handel (a couple of Mendelssohn’s favorites), as well as shades of the Romantic era when the piece was composed. Mendelssohn gave us low brass players many tacet movements, so for much of the gig, there was little more to do than sit, watch, and listen.

My seat in the orchestra was great this evening. Behind me was an 80-piece chorus that sang strongly and blended their voices very beautifully. Beside me was a tuba player, with whom it was easy to blend and get a good ensemble sound. Off toward the front of the stage were the cellos, who were a pleasure to listen to, and this one violist whose bow hand I could see under one of the horn players’ stands. His hand was so graceful and fluid! I watched the violist’s hand throughout the evening, enjoying the light touch of his fingers on the slender bow. What great technique he had!

Unfortunately, at times I would be distracted by the blast of the two overzealous horns directly in front of me. Despite getting “the hand” repeatedly from the conductor, these guys were going to town for most of the evening. Screaming horns directly in front of the trombone section have never been my idea of a good time…but I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt. Maybe they mistook the name “Mendelssohn” on their music for something else, like “Wagner”. ;-)

Playing the music was fun as well. My part said “bass trombone”, but it was easily played on a tenor. And because we didn’t want to totally overwhelm the choir, we brass had to back off quite a bit…so big, splatty bass trombone antics were out. My goal for the evening was to blend in very smoothly with the section, and make a connection with the tuba player and cellos when we had lines together. I felt like a big, plush carpet sometimes. Other times, like a cellist. I enjoyed the challenge of staying low-key and changing roles throughout the night.

Tags: a day in the life · Live Music · Trombones

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 ssgreylord // May 3, 2008 at 6:05 pm

    How cool was it to hear from you. Thanks for appreciating the “That’s Love” post. Curiously, I came to check you out and loved your writing style. I am not musically inclined so it will be fun to get educated on the subject. I’ll be following your posts…

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