Busy, Busy, Busy…

After arriving back from China the RLPO were having a well earned rest from the 8th to 22nd October. Not for me, however. They say there is no rest for the wicked, after all!

Good to get home to give this guy some fuss!

Good to get home to give this guy some fuss!

The day after arriving back I had to forget all about any thoughts of jet lag and get myself from home in Liverpool to Oxford to take part in the Oxford Contemporary Music Festival. The work I would be playing was part of on ongoing UK tour celebrating the work of pioneering electronica composer Delia Derbyshire.unnamed-20

I would be joining the ‘Delia Darlings’ to play a piece by international award winning composer Ailis Ni Riain. Ailis, for whom I have given several world premieres had written a very exciting but extremely challenging work for solo trumpet and acoustic double bass called ‘The Consequences of Falling’ commissioned by the Arts Council of england two years ago and I have been touring with this piece ever since. Geth Griffiths (double bass) and I had been looking forward to this gig for ages.


My simple rail journey from Liverpool to Oxford and back required 10 tickets in total. Amazing really for such a simple trip. Our sound and lighting check/rehearsal was due to take place at 4pm. I boarded my train around midday without problems. I changed at Birmingham New Street with three minutes to spare. The destination board said my train to Oxford was waiting at platform 10A. I raced down there; shouted to the guard, Oxford?!’ She said yes. I boarded, the train set off. The guard came down immediately and checked my ticket. Off she went. By the time the train arrived at Cheltenham Spa, I thought ‘unusual but the train must be doing a wide circuit to Oxford’. By the time the train arrived in Wales at Chepstow, I smelt a rat and raced down to the guard compartment in a blind panic. She thought I was going to change somewhere for Oxford and realised she had been wrong because my ticket didn’t allow for a change!


I explained that it didn’t matter who’s fault it was. What mattered was how was I to get to Oxford for a four o’clock rehearsal! The guard apologised and said there would be no chance of making Oxford by four and indeed, I would be probably do well to get to Oxford by the 7.30pm kick off for the performance! Oh, Mr. Porter, what shall I do?!



She said I would have to travel further into Wales, oh no!, to Newport; wait for the London train (which was on a different company’s line (!) and change at Reading. Wait for the next Oxford train and I should get to Oxford before 7.30. Geth and I were on first as well. Plus, I had to catch the 8.36 back to Liverpool from Oxford. That timing was tight before the journey, anyway. Hopefully I could get a taxi and be there in time…

As it happens, all ended up well, despite not even having time to warm up, or anything. The audience was very appreciative and Geth thought that was one of our better shows. I was oblivious to anything going on around me, to be honest, having been freaked out by the panic of the journey! On stage, a performer just has to get on with it. Never mind what goes on beforehand! The audience and other performers don’t want to know. They want to be entertained and given a performance to remember…

I also made the return train at 8.36pm. A miracle! After the day I had had the train to Coventry, change, train to Nuneaton, change, and the train back to Liverpool seemed very easy. I was in bed before midnight but unable to sleep for some reason!

The next day I was up practicing before my students arrived. This day was put aside for several of my students/victims to make up lessons due to the RLPO being away for the last month or so, to make up for my lack of availability to them. Then – a daunting night out with my sons.

unnamed-27Even though they are 21 and 18, it still feels wrong buying them a pint, or two!

My boys, me, and stellar Irish Musician Ged Surgue

My boys, me, and stellar Irish Musician Ged Surgue

The next week was Ensemble 10.10 playing brand new contemporary music works in the OPEN CIRCUIT festival of new music, sonic arts and audio-visual installations, organised by the University of Liverpool School of Music.


The festival would be taking place in the beautiful Victoria Gallery and Museum. The VG&M was the first building to be built in the red brick University of Liverpool. Formerly examination rooms, the VG&M is now the most beautiful art gallery in the city. Incidentally, they also have a Turner, a Lucien Freud, several Jacob Epsteins, Augustus Johns and a whole set of Aubadon drawings.

It's cold in this Legatte Theatre. Understandable considering it's original purpose...

It’s cold in this Legatte Theatre. Understandable considering it’s original purpose…

Ensemble 10.10 were not in the art gallery, however, but in the Leggate Theatre. The Leggate Theatre actually provides a remarkable acoustic. It is not any kind of arts performance theatre, however but the operating theatre were the original medical and science students would observe the bodies being chopped up to teach them about amputation and other unspeakable medical practices…

This was the cider in the highly regarded University pub, not an exhibit in the VG&M

This was the cider in the highly regarded University pub, not an exhibit in the VG&M

After several days work we were to perform the classic ‘Octandre’ by Edgar Varese. A fantastic piece which never seems to age. This work of genius was written in 1923. ‘Mask’ for ensemble and electronic sound by Dutch ‘Flavour of the Month’ Michel van der Aa written for ASKO ensemble.

unnamed-28We would also be giving two world premieres. ‘Clicks’ by Liverpool University lecturer in contemporary music Matthew Fairclough. The second world premiere was by the new head Professor of Contemporary Composition at Liverpool University, ‘Volleys of Light and Shadow’. Ben is actually a trumpeter and studied at Eastman with Professor James Thompson. He devotes himself entirely to composition now. The performance was enthusiastically attended and it is good to know that the future of contemporary music at Liverpool University is in such safe hands.

Rehearsing in the Leggate Theatre

Rehearsing in the Leggate Theatre

Ensemble 10.10 had a further task, a day of recording sessions for the music of Adam Gorb. Good music but Adam enjoys writing parts which challenge the trumpeter. Professional trumpeters are either bored to death or scared to death! Only joking, of course, I enjoy a challenge…


On my day off, myself and RLPO oboist Ruth Davis, played at the ‘Gin Party in the Palm House’. Many readers will know that a large portion of my wages are paid by the Liverpool Organic Brewery. Ruth has a similar arrangement with the Liverpool Distillery Ltd as the face of Liverpool Gin. We played a short duet before the owners of Liverpool Gin (our sponsors and patrons) made their speeches to the packed Palm House in Liverpool’s magnificent Palm House in Sefton Park. This was an exquisite evening packed with sophistication. See the previous blog and buy a ticket for the next event. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASome gigs have more than financial benefits!

unnamed-14 unnamed-13

Chris Morley (RLPO Bumper Horn), Simon Cowen (RLPO Section Leader Trombone) and myself have a thriving brass trio.

unnamed-15On our free day, we performed six short concerts in Royal Liverpool University Hospital. unnamed-16Actually, we were entertaining the staff on this occasion, rather than the patients! Further appearances will be at Fazakerly Hospital and Broad Green Hospital, also.

A late shift - don't let anyone tell you this schedule is easy!

A late shift – don’t let anyone tell you this schedule is easy!

An induction day also ensued, where the RLPO were introduced to new changes etc prior to the reopening of Liverpool Philharmonic Hall on the 12th November. It is nice to have such a caring employer.

An extra night out at my eldest son's band. Whitecliff have just released their first single. It's great!

An extra night out at my eldest son’s band. Whitecliff have just released their first single. It’s great!

Phew! Back to work with the orchestra on the 22nd October for a rest!

Incidentally, just in the midst of the University, by the Ensemble 10.10 gig, I came across this…



About brendanball

Professional Trumpeter: Soloist, Orchestra Player, Chamber Music, Contemporary Music & Education.
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