The past year has been frustrating in many ways, with multiple restrictions, adjustments, and cancellations occurring due to the COVID-19 event. Like many people, it seems that I have been doing twice as much work to get half as much result. My ability to write regularly at The Reforming Trombonist has been a casualty of my newly-crammed schedule, but now that the spring semester is coming to an end I hope to have additional time to write for a while. I certainly have several topics that I would like to address.
One sign of slowly increasing normalcy is the slow return of playing gigs. The North Mississippi Symphony Orchestra, which I have served as principal trombonist since 2013, resumed performing in December 2020, giving two performances of Nutcracker with the Tupelo Ballet (presented in a large arena with social distancing). A resurgence of the virus in the winter led orchestra management to decide to present the planned spring concerts via recordings, which are first broadcast on local television and then posted to YouTube.
The third program of this abbreviated season, recorded in March and broadcast today, opens with a lovely arrangement for English horn and strings of À Chloris by Reynaldo Hahn (1874-1947) and closes with the wonderful Reformation Symphony (Symphony #5) by Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847). Between these pieces is the Trombone Concertino, op. 45, no. 7 by Lars-Erik Larsson (1908-1986). It is an enjoyable and varied program, and I was very pleased by how well the Larsson went…and that I had enough stamina left to pick up the alto trombone and play in the orchestra for the Mendelssohn afterward!
This was my first time performing as soloist with the NMSO and I am delighted to have had the opportunity. It was not, however, my first time performing the Larsson with strings; I performed it with the University of North Carolina at Greensboro Symphony Orchestra in 2003 when I was a graduate student there. In many ways, the Mendelssohn was more of a “bucket list” piece for me than the Larsson, for reasons that will be obvious to regular readers of this blog.
Here is the entire performance. The Larsson is introduced at around the five-minute mark, and the concertino itself begins at 6:40. I would encourage you, though, to enjoy the entire performance, as well as the interviews afterward. At one point Music Director Steven Byess shares a powerful and personal story about the importance of sharing great music with young people.
Thanks for listening. I hope to share new reading material very soon!