It had to come.
I know I say I can’t play clash cymbals but that’s because
- my hands won’t hold them
- my arms are too short
- my bust is too big!
But you really can’t go around telling people you’ve got grade 8 percussion when you haven’t played timps. So I had a session with Roger, my teacher, a few months ago. Then over the Christmas period I had an invitation to play with the Redditch Orchestra for Rachmaninov’s Second Symphony in February. I used to live in Redditch and played regularly with that orchestra but I left there 32 years ago so there would be lots of faces I knew and names I couldn’t remember!
The invitation came from a dear friend whom I hadn’t seen for years and who had only just heard that I had started playing percussion. There would be two people in the section – the other person had lots of percussion experience playing in bands but no orchestral experience. I have lots of orchestral experience but not on percussion!
Then he dropped out.
The conductor decided I should try playing timps and they would find somebody to bang the bass drum etc if they could. So I had one more lesson and persuaded Roger to lend me himself and his timps for the day. (Nobody had let on to me that the conductor is a timpanist!)
Meanwhile I came to an arrangement with New College Worcester to lease their set of timps. That gave them more room in their music suite and allowed me to bring them home to practise (another story altogether – they wouldn’t go through the front door, nor the back door). I used to have lots of room in my conservatory!
Saturday 25th February arrived and off we went to Redditch. If you don’t know that symphony, do go and listen. When I met first encountered it, I was 35 and I couldn’t believe I had wasted 35 years not knowing it; gorgeous soaring melodies, particularly gorgeous ‘cello tunes (which these days break my heart because I won’t ever play them in an orchestra again), a cheeky boisterous second movement, luscious lie-back-on-the-hot-sand-under-the palm-trees-and-feel-the-gentle-waves-lapping-over-you third movement… aaaaaaaaaaahhhh!!
I had a whale of a time!