There are certain aspects of being an orchestral musician which can appear baffling to an outsider especially the collective sense of humour. A fair amount of this is based in orchestral “traditions” – responses to comments, events or musical moments – which have been passed down the generations of players and while each orchestra might have its own set of these there are several which seem to be common to most orchestras.
It’s a happy coincidence that in the 250th year since Benjamin Franklin invented the Armonica I have been having all sorts of new musical experiences with mine. In addition to several films and recording sessions with bands earlier in the year, July had the premiere of George Benjamin’s Opera Written on Skin, where the glass harmonica represents an Angel who sidesteps between the present and the past. There are two significant moments for the instrument which underpin the inner thoughts of this character and the sound of the instrument perfectly captures the otherworldliness of the character. I have further performances of this coming up – the next run is in Toulouse in November.
January 13th 2012 7.20 p.m.: Just about to go onstage in Hong Kong City Hall for a concert with my friends in the Hong Kong Sinfonietta. Head full of script and a few cantonese phrases learnt by rote. You have to get the pronunciation just right or the meaning can change from perfect politeness to extreme rudeness!
Day at home, family all out at school – time to reflect on yesterday’s Intergalactic Adventure concert and begin final preparation for next week’s Science Fiction Classics concert.
Yesterday afternoon saw Oxford Town Hall filled to capacity – our first sold out family concert at last! – for an Intergalactic Adventure with the Oxford Philomusica. There were plenty of fantastic costumes – spacemen, aliens, robots – and not just in the audience: one of the horn players was wearing a genuine NASA spacesuit!