After arriving back in London from an exhausting but amazing trip to Italy with Southbank Sinfonia, my destination the following morning was Norway. I was excited to have been accepted onto the trumpet course at the Voksenåsen Summer Academy, where I would study for a week with soloist Tine Thing Helseth and Arnaulf Naur Nilsen (Tine's former teacher and previous principal trumpet of the Oslo Philharmonic).
I was also very grateful to the Royal Philharmonic Society, who allowed me to use part of my Julius Isserlis Award to pay for the course. My regular duo partner, pianist Jen Hughes, is a member of staff at the Voksenåsen Academy, so it was a real treat to work with her out in Oslo.
The Voksenåsen trumpet class was made up of students from Norway, England and Denmark and, quite unusually, there were nine girls in the class and only one boy!! I don't think he minded too much, though...
During the week, I had a number of lessons from both Tine and Arnaulf and I watched many of the other students' lessons, as they were all in a masterclass format. I took three pieces with me to perform and work on during the course:
Seraph by James MacMillan
Sonata for Trumpet and Piano by Paul Hindemith
Sonatina by Hans Werner Henze.
I chose these three pieces because I was at different stages with them all: I knew Seraph very well, having performed it with Jen as part of a Park Lane Group recital earlier in the year. I was aware that Tine had also recently performed it with orchestra, conducted by James MacMillan, so I thought that it would be fascinating to hear her thoughts on a piece which not many people know.
As for Hindemith's Sonata, I had spent some time working on this piece in my first year at the Academy, but had never performed it in public. I decided that this could be the perfect opportunity to re-learn it and play it in front of the class. My lesson on the Hindemith with Arnaulf was brilliant - he was incredibly strict about rhythmic precision and we spoke a lot about the background of the piece and what was going on in the world at the time of its composition (1939).
Finally the Henze Sonatina was my newest work and one which I've always wanted to learn. I played the first movement to Tine and we spoke about how best to approach a new piece - especially such a complex, contemporary one - which I found incredibly helpful.
There were various woodwind masterclasses taking place alongside ours during the week. On the final evening, one member from each class was chosen to perform in a concert to mark the end of the course. Tine asked whether Jen and I would like to perform the first movement of Seraph in this concert (with Tine as our pageturner..!) and we leapt at the chance. It was a great opportunity to put what I'd learned into practice and to celebrate all of the music-making that had gone on during the week.
My time in Norway was a fantastic experience - it was a chance to meet and make friends with brilliant trumpeters, to learn from new teachers and to further fuel my love of solo trumpet playing. Having had weekly trumpet lessons from the age of 7 up until last year, it was a big adjustment to leave the Academy and suddenly be my own teacher! I had always tried to keep this mentality in my practice, but now it was a reality. I'm really looking forward to practising and continuing the progress that we made during my lessons in Oslo, and to continuing learning as much as I can from other musicians, for as long as possible!