For over twenty years, I have had the privilege of playing in the Moorpark Symphony Orchestra. People ask me what I love about the orchestra. Is it playing great music with talented musicians? Is it the love of playing my instrument and perfecting my art? It is all of those things.
However, there is something more that attracts me to the orchestra. It is the storytelling. With every concert, the orchestra tells a combination of stories that is rich and unique.
First, we tell the story of the great masters and their art. We perform living works of art that were conceived long ago. Part of the training of a symphony musician is learning the art of recreating musical styles and performance practices. These styles and practices help to bring the artworks to life. They live again in performances that strive to recreate the composer’s original vision.
Secondly, we are telling the stories of the orchestra’s musicians. Each musician has their individual stories. How they were introduced to music, their training, and a lifetime of performance experiences. My mother was an accomplished violinist and I took violin lessons before settling on trumpet playing. Our conductor, James Song, has the job of interpreting the music, exploring the inspiration of the composer, then combining these elements with the stories of the musicians. In our concerts, each musician offers their unique contribution, which brings the entire musical experience together.
I have been in the orchestra long enough to see some members grow old, retire, and finally pass away. One of the unique aspects of their careers is even after they are gone the traces of their stories remain. I recently attended the funeral of Jack Thomas, one of our long-time trombone players. When I sit in the brass section, I can imagine my friend in his chair, still playing with us. Their stories and our memories of them are precious. They remind us of a unique musician’s dedication to this orchestra and their love of music.
The audience is a unique part of the story. This may be a young person’s first time hearing the music or a favorite symphony of a senior citizen. I enjoy talking with audience members after concerts. They often tell us the first time they heard this special piece or what the music means to them. Their experiences now become part of our story.
We like to tell ourselves and others that this orchestra is a family. I think that is what a family is. We are a group of people dedicated to each other with a story to tell. Next time you come to a concert listen for the trumpet section. We are of course, the most important section in the orchestra. (Just kidding). But when we, or any section, play a solo or a beautiful section passage remember we are part of a great orchestra with a story to tell.
—Roger Mason, Principal Trumpet