Guildhall Trombones Visit Canada

Written By: Adam Crighton Comments: 0

Last month Ian Sankey, James Harold, Peter Thornton and I had the pleasure of participating in a 10-day trip to Toronto with the choir from Girton College, Cambridge. 

We were to be accompanying the choir on Sackbuts (with Jeremy West playing Cornett), performing and recording a mass by Lassus, which we had previously performed with them in an evensong, organised by fellow student James Harold, back in January. 

As none of us have studied at Cambridge (or joined a choir tour), we were unsure what to expect of the balance between work and play, but we were pleased with the relaxed atmosphere of the trip.  

Photography: Will Lyon Tupman

Except Canada Day (the Canadian version of the 4th July) we were playing every day, in either a rehearsal, concert, or recording.  The nature of the music being what it is, there is much more time spent with the instrument ‘on the face’ than in conventional trombone playing, meaning that the rehearsals and concerts were a decent blow and none of us felt like we weren’t getting enough to do!  

However, in between the playing, there was ample free time to explore Toronto, and see the sights. In the space of four days we enjoyed a visit to Niagara Falls (with an open rehearsal in Niagara-on-the-lake), a trip up the CN tower, a day on Toronto Island and all of our first baseball matches (thoroughly recommended!).

From a musical standpoint, it was an extremely interesting and educational trip, not in the least because it was, I believe, the first time that any of us had spent 10 days devoted to Sackbut whilst barely touching our modern Trombones at all (this made the Guildhall trombone concert the day after our return a wee bit more of a challenge!). 

Photography: Lucy Morrell

It was also a fantastic opportunity to spend a long time playing with internationally renowned Cornettist Jeremy West.  One of the most influential early music specialists in the world, Jeremy’s ability and knowledge of music are both incredible, and we all benefitted enormously from spending time with him, listening to him play and asking his advice on all sorts of musical matters. In addition to the mass, we recorded a couple of brass quintets, also by Lassus, which was a very different style of playing and gave us yet more chance to learn from Jeremy and gain experience playing.

We are all extremely grateful to Girton College, University of Cambridge, and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama for their extremely generous support towards this trip.  Without their joined backing there would have been no way we could go on this amazing and educational experience. 

Adam Crighton

A recording of the The Choir of Girton College, Cambridge and the Guildhall Historic Brass will be released in the coming months.

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