I’m feeling very old this weekend. This is due to a number of factors. Firstly, it is my birthday next month and I shall be 38. I still don’t know what I want to do when I grow up either, so I’d better get my skates on. The other reason is that this tour schedule is punishing at the moment. Its a funny thing touring as we often have to go away for long periods which is difficult, but the short tours of 2 to 3 days are often just as tiring. For instance, we have just returned from whistle stop trip to Vienna. Well, I say Vienna, we actually played outside in Grafenegg. Well, thats not strictly true either, we were supposed to play outside but it rained, so we played inside, outside of Vienna. Are you with me so far? Fortunately, as well as an outdoor venue they also have a spare concert hall at the back of the garden in case of rain. We ended up doing both the concerts inside this weekend.
Getting there was the tiring thing which made me feel all 37.9 of my years. Firstly, it was the day after the kids went back to school, so chaos was rampant in Chateau Davies and secondly I had to get up at 5.30am to leave. This is of course impossible to do without waking up my kids and guarantees bad temperaments all day long for my wife to deal with. Anyway, I rolled my case down to the station which woke up everyone else’s kids too. I then caught a train and then a bus and then did the check in thing which fortunately is easy for us with Mario and Mark organising. However even their skills can’t prevent us being delayed by an hour and a half because of a warning light and smell of burning in the plane. To be honest,I was quite happy to wait for them to fix that one!
We eventually arrived late in Vienna and had to get on buses for an hour and a half to the venue. They very kindly had provided us with ham and cheese sandwiches to please carnivores and vegetarians alike, and we then had a few minutes before the rehearsal with Sir Colin. I was knackered already which was made worse by the fact I realised I had become an older member of the band who could tell long rambling stories about long dead conductors and composers to the young generation and watch them glaze over and pretend to go to sleep.
I sat next to Phil Cobb on the bus, who I pleased to say didn’t fall asleep and he is still speaking to me, so maybe I wasn’t too dull. In case you missed it, Phil is our new Principal Trumpet player who has taken over from the legendary Maurice Murphy. A very big seat to fill. When we appointed him, he was 21 years old. Apparently he is now 22 but this really doesn’t make me feel better. At his tender years (I’m old enough to use this cliché now) he already has a fabulous sound and despite the age gap with, well, everybody, he is already fitting in well. The concert on Saturday was his first as a member and he informs me that he was in the first half and had to play d and a. This is not a euphemism or secret code for musicians, it is simply that he had two notes in the whole concert. I didn’t ask what length they were, it seemed rude. As we were talking I did some maths in my head and realised that he is only 9 years older than my eldest son. I have been in the LSO for 10 years. You can see why I am starting to feel old.
To make matters worse, any day now we will have another Principal Flute player to join our ranks which is great news for me. After 5 years of doing just about everything, I can share the workload.
He is 21 as well and doesn’t turn 22 until Christmas. Oh dear.
Anyway, we came to the concert last night where we were playing the amazing Nielsen 5 and I couldn’t help notice that Phil was looking a little green around the gills. To be honest the first concert you do with the LSO is terrifying and I have seen plenty of interesting shades of players before concerts-many of them in the mirror. We all know what it is like, however on this occasion he was being violently sick and had to go to hospital. Sadly he couldn’t play yesterday and had to go back to the hotel (he’s fine now by the way!). It was one of those moments where I’m glad I’m in this band as we not only have the brave new world of Mr Cobb, but due to his condition Rod Franks simply moved up and played the piece in the concert on no rehearsal. There aren’t many people who can do this with the incredible ease with which Rod does. Many people didn’t even notice. We are indeed very fortunate indeed to have Phil and Rod playing for us. I spoke to him afterwards and commented on his nerve. “Well you’ve just got to do it haven’t you?” he said in his typically understated way.
Well, yes Rod, but you do it so well! I asked him if he’d played the Nielsen before.
“Oh yes, of course. The last time I played it was in 1979.”
That’ll be about 8 years before Phil was born then.
I take my hat off once again to my colleagues and look forward to hearing them both over the coming years.
Incidentally, there were many theories as to why Phil was ill. Some said it was appendicitis as he is so young, some said food poisoning as he is new to international jet set travelling.
After realising he was born in a year I quite clearly remember, I have a feeling he is still having a few flu like symptoms from his MMR.
I shan’t be mentioning his age from now on, its been good for a blog, but now its down to serious work. As somebody once said, if you’re good enough, you’re old enough.