Saturday, November 05, 2005

Bananas about Mozart

Tomorrow afternoon, I perform in the Mozart Requiem with a local ensemble. It has probably been 8 or 9 years since I last played it; maybe more. It's a challenging piece for trombones: lots of technical playing, lots of delicate playing--lots of playing period. Oh, and it has a major tenor trombone solo, probably one of the hardest in the orchestral repertoire for tromone. The reason it is hard is not that it's high or technical. No, it's hard because it's so unlike what trombones usually play. We, the trombone section, usually play a supporting role and are rarely in the limelight, and that's the way we like it. But the "Tuba Mirum" solo is a melodic, legato obligato part over a bass solo--the kind of part that oboists play in their sleep. But for trombone players, it's really tough.

On top of all this, we're playing at "Classical" pitch of A=430, and we're playing sackbuts (which, incidentally, is rather dubious performance practice, since trombones, though smaller than the modern instrument, had definitely evolved beyond the sackbut by Mozart's time). As my grandfather was wont to say, "everything for your inconvenience."

The first rehearsal was not pretty. I was so nervous for the solo it's a wonder I was able to keep the mouthpiece on my face. It's been a long time since I felt that shaky. It didn't help that the bass soloist was not there. But the second rehearsal went better, and today, at the dress, it went pretty well, so I'm feeling pretty good for tomorrow.

I'm told bananas have natural beta blockers in them, so I'll be making out like a monkey tomorrow afternoon.

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