One of my favorite trombone case stickers was given to me by Matt Golombisky, the bassist in the Lucky 7s. It is a sticker from his Tomorrow Music Orchestra, and has the line “experimenting with the idea that music’s really fun.” I love that idea. Too often we (musicians and artists of all sorts) take ourselves WAY too seriously.
This week I am playing bass trombone with the Louisiana Philharmonic on Carmina Burana. The conductor is Carlos Miguel Prieto. He gets the idea that music is fun. At one point in rehearsal he said to the chorus, “you are reading. I want music.” Not in a grumpy old stuffy conductor way, but in a “hey, it’s not about the dots, it’s about the emotion” way. He regularly encouraged the chorus to flirt with the audience, and was relaxed and funny, even when the logistical difficulties of the piece stubbornly presented themselves. Carmina is not easy to play or conduct, but he never let things get tense, even though the tension tried to bust in, almost succeeding once.
I don’t get to sneak into the orchestral world too often, and sometimes when I do, it is inhabited by too many people who aren’t having nearly enough fun to make up for the crappy money they are getting. Rehearsing with Prieto today was a great reminder of why most of us starting playing music…because it is fun. Hopefully more of that vibe will infect the LPO as his tenure as MD continues. That would be very cool for the musicians and audiences alike.