It doesn’t matter whether you’re very good or mediocre, as long as you can keep up with the others, play a reasonable amount of the notes, and discretely gloss over whatever is beyond you. The stronger players set the standard and the weaker ones simply have to lean on them, fit in with them, and not suffer the weight of responsibility.
I was a professional violinist for 30 years, played in the best of the British orchestras and taught at every academic level. But then I changed to a full-time career involving company and charity law; a career that lasted for about 28 years, included attaining a law degree and a move to Somerset in 2007. Prior to that move, my only involvement in music was an occasional concert or week of opera as a semi-pro; but after the move I was completely in the wilderness as regards music.
Quite by chance in 2016 however, a new acquaintance suggested I contact the BSO Rusty & Not So Rusty Musicians (Rusties) and do some worthwhile orchestral playing again. I did, and have since done four major annual concerts – where I get to sit alongside a current BSO player – and several of their ‘Symphony-in-a-Day’ sessions.
The Rusties has become one of the pillars of my life and has brought numerous benefits.
Whilst those are personal, insofar as they befit my situation, many of them are surely experienced by all participants. To name but a few:
- I now practise regularly again and with a sense of purpose
- My playing has improved immensely (albeit with limited practice time, I’m not yet back to my former peak)
- I actually enjoy practising the Rusties’ repertoire and striving to match the BSO players
- My self-confidence has returned; I’ve made several good friends, resulting in invitations to play in other orchestral concerts
- My love of orchestral playing has been reignited and I’ve been able to revisit some great repertoire – without the tedium of too many rehearsals!
The Rusties main conductor, Kevin Smith, is first class. Although primarily a BSO trombonist, Kevin Smith’s conducting has the quality of a true professional. He aims to get the best performance from the players before him, and make it interesting and exciting for them – rather than follow a trend where some conductors seek to realize their idea of a perfect interpretation.
So – if you want to participate in something exciting yet challenging, or reignite a previous love of orchestral playing – give the BSO Rusties a try.
It’s far more than a mere orchestral participation opportunity – it’s a musical adventure. And for a seasoned ex-professional to recommend it, you can be certain it is worth it!
Raymond Prescott, AGSM, ARCM, LLB (Hons) (Open)
Rusty & Not So Rusty Musicians
If you are interested in joining us for one of our Rusty & Not So Rusty Musicians projects, we have the following events coming up:
For more information about our Rusty & Not So Rusty Musicians project, please click here