With 2016 being my first full year out of music college, I was anxious about what lay ahead... But little did I know that I had no need to worry, as I was about to embark upon an amazing year of playing, alongside new friends for life.
At the end of 2015, I was fortunate enough to be offered a place in Southbank Sinfonia - an orchestral programme for 33 graduates worldwide, which runs intensively from mid-January to the end of October. Those ten months were filled with incredible performance opportunities (either in our regular, free 'Rush Hour' concerts or performances outside of our St John's Waterloo base) and the chance to be part of Southbank's huge family.
To show you what I mean, I thought I'd give a summary of what we got up to during each month of Southbank 2016 and list some of my particular highlights:
- A week of getting to know each other, including a workshop with actress Patricia Hodge (the mum from Miranda - "Such fun!") and the orchestra's first ever rehearsals together.
- Rush Hour #1 (Mendelssohn No.1/Vaughan Williams)
- A residential week in Suffolk (Leiston Abbey and a performance in Aldeburgh)
- Side-by-side project with the Academy of St Martin in the Fields (Rush Hour #2 - Beethoven/Haydn)
- World Premiere of a youth opera at Glyndebourne ('Nothing' by David Bruce)
- Family Concert #1 at Cadogan Hall (Beethoven No.3 'Eroica')
- Rush Hour #3 (Shostakovich No.10)
- Audition masterclass with musicians from the Philharmonia Orchestra
- Rush Hour #4 (Baroque Week - performing Telemann's Concerto for Two Trumpets at the London Handel Festival, see blog post here!)
- Mock auditions at the Royal Opera House
- Collaboration with Non-Classical/Gabriel Prokofiev ('Rise of the Machines' broadcast on BBC Radio 3 Hear and Now)
- Audition masterclass with musicians from the Royal Opera House
- Performance at Cadogan Hall with Parliament Choir (Gounod/Vaughan Williams/O'Neill)
- 3-day trip to Paris and a performance at Notre-Dame Cathedral
- Beethoven No.9 at the Mayfield Festival, Sussex
- Rush Hour #8 (MacMillan No.2/Shostakovich - Jessica Cottis)
- Rush Hour #9 (Cherubini/Brahms Violin Concerto - Graham Ross)
- Rush Hour #10 (Mendelssohn/Beethoven No.6 - Ben Gernon)
- Rush Hour #11 ('A Soho Symphony' - written and conducted by Guy Barker)
- 3-day trip to Guernsey (performance of our Baroque programme, incl. double trumpet concerto)
- Concert at the Barbican (Britten 'Four Sea Interludes'/Vaughan Williams No.1 'A Sea Symphony')
- Performance with Guy Garvey (Elbow) at Southbank Meltdown Festival, Royal Festival Hall
- Culmination of our outreach project with the children from 'In Harmony Lambeth'
- Bach 'Magnificat' (Waterloo Festival)
- Rush Hour #12 (Stravinsky programme - Jonathan Berman)
- Rush Hour #13 (Elgar Cello Concerto)
- 12-day trip to Italy (Ischia/Anghiari Festival - including performances of Madama Butterfly, Brahms No.3, Beethoven Emperor Concerto, Schumann Konzertstuck and lots of chamber music!)
- Collaboration with British Youth Opera (performances of Britten's 'Owen Wingrave' and Williamson's 'English Eccentrics' at the Peacock Theatre)
- Observing auditions for the SbS 2017 orchestra
- Concert at St John's Smith Square - 'Shakespeare in Music' with actors including Samuel West and David Threlfall)
- Rush Hour #14 (Boulez/Shostakovich No.14 - Maxime Tortelier, broadcast on BBC Radio 3)
- Sit-in/observing at the Royal Opera House (- I actually ended up playing, due to one of their trumpeters falling ill!)
- Rush Hour #15 (Kodály/Sibelius No.2 - a concert programmed and organised by the members of the orchestra - conducted by Natalia Luis-Bassa)
- Speaking on BBC Radio 3 In Tune to promote Rush Hour #15
- Family Concert #2 at Cadogan Hall (focusing on concertos - I performed the 3rd Movement of Hummel's Trumpet Concerto)
- Concerti performances at Bridgewater House for SbS sponsors, EFG
- SbS 2016 Grand Finale (Rimsky-Korsakov 'Scheherazade')
So, as you can see, a pretty packed year!! AND, although they're not all mentioned here, we're proud to have worked with an equal number of male and female conductors... exciting stuff.
Aside from our many performances, I gained so much through the fantastic talks that Southbank provided for us - from freelance finances and pensions to the Musicians' Union, performance psychology and mental health. We were supported throughout the year with individual player meetings with the staff and also always had a chance to air our views and ideas in meetings with the whole orchestra.
As a member of Southbank Sinfonia, you become very aware of the mountain of support that the orchestra has. I really loved getting to know so many of Southbank's loyal friends and supporters, both after our Rush Hour concerts and at the Anghiari Festival, and I am so grateful to have been sponsored this year by Sally Barringer and Simon and Louise James.
Being involved in Southbank Sinfonia has been an absolutely invaluable experience for me and one that I would recommend to any graduate/graduating musician, wherever you are in the world!
Find out more at www.southbanksinfonia.co.uk