Hello and welcome to my blog for the Scarborough Spa Orchestra. My role in the orchestra is slightly different from the first two contributors in that I am not a regular member of the orchestra but am drafted in to play percussion as and when Michael becomes tied up with other commitments. This means that I will often be performing pieces I have never rehearsed or even heard before. I am playing for the whole of this week from Monday morning, finishing with the Peasholm Park concert on Friday.
It is a privilege to play in this orchestra and I am always astonished by the high standard of the contributions from the other musicians. The string players each have to shoulder the responsibility of an entire section, both in volume and clarity which they do marvellously. The woodwind have exceptional versatility – where else would you need to play a Rossini Overture one evening followed by Take Five the next morning? The ability and subtlety of the brass duo is matched by the tremendous feats of endurance they achieve week in, week out. Finally, Paul has to mastermind the operation while playing more notes than any one of us.
The percussionist has to face similar challenges and I agree with Michael in that this work is among the most demanding that I do. Much of the repertoire that the orchestra performs needs more than one pair of percussive hands so often decisions have to be made about how to tackle certain pieces. Doing justice to the music not only requires intense concentration but sometimes a certain amount of ingenuity and always a lot of forward planning. Here is a photo of the set-up for the evening concert of 23rd July 2013:
In order to make life easier for myself I have set up a suspended triangle beater for when I need to play it but have no time to equip myself with the correct ‘bats’ for it:
Also, I sometimes have to find time to do running repairs on/modifications to equipment – yesterday I decided to separate the tubular bells with string to stop them from striking each other:
As a freelance professional player, one of the biggest positive aspects of your work is the variety and, linked to this, the opportunity to learn and grow as a musician. The repertoire of this orchestra is as vast and varied as it is unique and I am honoured to be a part of this special ensemble.
Finally, this blog wouldn’t be complete without special mention of the orchestra’s audience who are warm, friendly and loyal. I think it is worth making a visit to hear the Orchestra or perhaps even promote Scarborough to your favoured holiday destination to take advantage of the weekly/seasonal rates. I recommend it to anyone who is a fan of orchestral music, particularly light repertoire of the 20th Century.