Monday, 22 December 2008

Less sacked than I thought

w11-web-smallHere's something which cheered me up a bit.

I used to play fairly often for the entirely wonderful W11 Opera for Young People, which I think was in those days called W11 Children's Opera. Exactly why I think this is so wonderful and what I felt about being involved I will save for a longer piece another time. For now, suffice it to say that it was a great privilege to be in the orchestra and a bit of a highlight of the year for me.

Now, who plays the trumpet is largely in the gift of - well, I'm not quite sure who but I think it's probably a two-headed composite of the composer and the MD. Certainly, I was first asked to play by Timothy Kraemer, who'd written the show in a year (1981) when his brother Nicholas was still conducting, and they both sort-of knew me, albeit probably as a well-meaning blunderer rather than the stunning trumpet pioneer I was never quite to become hem hem indeed yes, or rather no.

What a setup like this means, though, is that doing a few gigs is no guarantee that it's your show for ever, no matter how much you liked doing it. People move on, you get a different MD or composer, they've got a mate who plays the trumpet - you're out. (Plus, they might have listened to last year's recording with me on - kiss of death!) And so, for example, there was a bit of a gap after the busier period in the 80s and early 90s when I often used to get asked. I was then asked again in 1996 (though that was a revival of a show I'd done in 87) and I've not been asked since. 

I had rather assumed that I had in effect been sacked, though to be fair with freelance gigs it's not exactly sacked - you're just not asked. However, I had a quick look at their website this morning, a reminiscent mood having been triggered by something quite unconnected; the results are more pleasing than I had thought. This is what I find (all figures inclusive):

Total shows to 2008 since I first played in 1981 = 28

  Of those:
Shows with trumpet = 9
  Of those:
Shows I did = 6
Shows I didn't do = 3

Shows to 2008 since I last played in 1996 = 13

  Of those:
Shows with trumpet = 2
  Of those:
Shows I did (1996) = 1
Shows I didn't do (1997) = 1

In other words, I played in 1996 and was then not asked to play in 1997. Since that year there has been no trumpet part so while I was not asked to play neither was any other trumpet player.

Obviously, I wish I'd been asked in 1997 and I wish there'd been trumpet parts since then and I'd been asked again. Still, the fact remains that I've missed out a lot less than I had thought. I had rather imagined that it had gone trumpetistically onwards and upwards, and bigger- and bigger-time trumpet players were doing it every year, household names the lot of them, while I stayed at home and wept into my Scotch (a rather fine single malt, since you ask).

Sure, if there is a trumpet another year then my chances of being asked are very slim (unlike me, yes Tamsin thank you) because there's probably no-one there who even knows who I am now and the bright young composer and MD will indeed probably have 56 trumpet-playing friends, all of them better, nicer and prettier than me. Yup sure. But still, it turns out, looking at these dates and shows this morning, that I was actually rather a lot less sacked than I thought and, call me a sad old git if you will, I find this strangely heartening.

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