A Portfolio Career

I've spent most of this week working on an article for the Brass Herald, writing all about brass players with 'portfolio careers'. It got me thinking about my own career, those of my friends and the different elements which they involve:

Last weekend was filled with rehearsals for a 'Music Hall Night' on Saturday evening at a local theatre in Surbiton. It was a sold-out event and was great fun to play lots of war-time music! This was followed the next day by a seaside recital in Steyning with trumpet quartet 'Bella Tromba'. Apart from playing in the group, the careers of the Bella Tromba girls are incredibly diverse: Emma Bassett plays trombone in a successful quintet 'Westcombe Brass' and regularly works with major UK orchestras, Becca Toft has a demanding teaching job, arranges and composes music for Bella Tromba and often performs as lead trumpet with various jazz/swing bands, whilst Jo Harris works in the stage/artist management side of the business.

Bella Tromba performing Britten's  Fanfare for St Edmundsbury

Bella Tromba performing Britten's Fanfare for St Edmundsbury

This week I have been rehearsing with my duo partner, pianist Jen Hughes, for our lunchtime recital next Wednesday (9th Dec) at St James's Piccadilly, as part of the Park Lane Group recital series there. It's been hard to find time to rehearse around Jen's busy schedule - this week she has been playing for auditions at the Royal College of Music (where she is Duo Coach for the Strings Department), she flew out to Oslo for a recital on Wednesday and then played on Radio 3's 'In Tune' on Friday with Charlie Siem!

I've also had the pleasure of watching two excellent recitals this week:
First a lunchtime concert by æðelfrìth brass quintet (& 2 harps) at St John's Smith Square. The recital focused on Anglo-Nordic music and also included arrangements and compositions by the ensemble's founder Nick Walkley. Nick is currently employed in the Army as Principal Trumpet of the Welsh Guards and of the Household Division band. However he is going to be moving to Norway next summer to pursue his dream of living there whilst working as a freelance performer, conductor, teacher, composer, arranger and much more!

The following day I was invited to a house gig - the first one I've been to - where harpist Olivia Jageurs and cellist Abi Hyde-Smith put on a recital in Olivia's London flat. It was a beautiful and intimate setting with about 40-50 people in the audience and all donations went to the Syrian Refugee Crisis Appeal. It was a really successful event and I hope that house gigs for classical musicians really take off! Olivia is a busy harpist - involved in many chamber ensembles, in demand for background music at corporate and private events, working with the LPO and she will be starring on stage in the West End production of War of the Worlds next year. 

Olivia and Abi's House Gig

Olivia and Abi's House Gig

This weekend I had a wonderful time playing Bach's 'Christmas Oratorio' with the Orchestra of St Paul's (OSP, conducted by Ben Palmer), as part of a great team of natural trumpeters. Paul Bosworth, who played the 1st trumpet part (to the complete awe of the whole orchestra, choir and audience!) is truly making his mark in the Baroque music world, as well as being another member of Westcombe Brass.  Paul has recently performed as a soloist on tour with the European Union Baroque Orchestra (EUBO) and this week alone has performed Bach's Brandenburg No.2, sonatas by Biber and Telemann and, obviously, the Christmas Oratorio.

Photo credit: Ben Palmer (Left to Right: Paul Bosworth, Imogen Hancock, Richard Knights)

Photo credit: Ben Palmer (Left to Right: Paul Bosworth, Imogen Hancock, Richard Knights)

Next weekend I am looking forward to performing Handel's Messiah in Truro Cathedral (more details here). It's then a quick flight to London the following morning to ensure that I'm back for a rehearsal for Casablanca: Live at the Royal Festival Hall with the OSP! Follow this link for more information and to book tickets.

So, as you can see, this week has been full of great musical ventures alongside friends and colleagues who each have truly unique and wide-ranging careers. It's certainly an exciting time to be a freelance musician!

You will be able to read my article in the February 2016 issue of the Brass Herald.