BSO Japan Tour - Concert halls

Apart from our short flight leg from Tokyo to Nagoya, most all our travel in and around Japan has been via Bullet Train, although our first concert was at NTK Forst Hall in Nagoya which only required the orchestra to travel on tour buses to the concert venue. 

I carried my trombone over my shoulder from Boston (not without a few stewardess arguments I might add...) so I survived the instrument delay in Nagoya without worry

I carried my trombone over my shoulder from Boston (not without a few stewardess arguments I might add...) so I survived the instrument delay in Nagoya without worry

It was a bit of high drama that day because our instrument trunk arrivals were somehow delayed.  Rather than a morning rehearsal with the afternoon off, we ended up waiting at the hall most of the day instead.  Fortunately everything arrived with time for a short rehearsal/soundcheck and we played the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto with Gil Shaham and Mahler, No. 1 to a concert hall with aesthetics most similar in shape to the New Jersey Performing Arts Center.

 
Dress rehearsal in Nagoya

Dress rehearsal in Nagoya

Maestro Andris Nelsons makes eye contact with Violins during sound check for Mahler, No. 1

Maestro Andris Nelsons makes eye contact with Violins during sound check for Mahler, No. 1

Panorama: NTK Forest Hall, Nagoya City Hall

Panorama: NTK Forest Hall, Nagoya City Hall

Nagoya-Bullet-Osaka (5 of 11).jpg

The next day we traveled on the bullet train to Osaka, a beautiful city that took us less than an hour on the afternoon train.  I caught a couple of shots of the orchestra waiting on the platform and was greeted with a very photogenic bunch.  The attitude in the orchestra is jovial and positive but not without work and focus.  Amidst friendly smiles of charisma is a work ethic and a grit that has people practicing and studying whenever they can catch a free moment.  

 

 
Mike Martin verifies the speed of the bullet train using an iphone app.  My favorite part of this image is Clint Foreman peaking from behind the seat.

Mike Martin verifies the speed of the bullet train using an iphone app.  My favorite part of this image is Clint Foreman peaking from behind the seat.

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Dark stained wood enveloped our view at the Festival Hall, Shin-Asahi Building: Osaka, Japan

Dark stained wood enveloped our view at the Festival Hall, Shin-Asahi Building: Osaka, Japan

Cello duets back stage.  Wherever we go, people just can't wait to play together!!

Cello duets back stage.  Wherever we go, people just can't wait to play together!!

It truly is amazing how everything and everyone is able to move like clockwork for these concerts.  So many people, so many items, from instruments to wardrobes, warm-ups to applause.  What a great time to be in the BSO.

BSO in Nagoya - Day 1

The Boston Symphony traveled to Nagoya for the first leg of our Japan tour.  The city is beautifully modern yet full of history and the people are absolutely wonderful!  Most of us were quite jet-lagged on the first free morning after our evening arrival however, we took the first opportunity to warm up in the room provided by the Hotel on the top floor.  

Associate Principal Trumpet, Tom Siders warms up at the beginning of day 1.

Associate Principal Trumpet, Tom Siders warms up at the beginning of day 1.

The top floor of the hotel had gorgeous views of the city that helped us all get a lay of the land for walking off the jetlag throughout our first day.  The city has quite a few historic landmarks, the most exciting of which is the Castle Nagoya, built in the 16th century as well as beautiful parks, greenery, and waterways lightly salted throughout the town.

 
This hi-tech hotel toilet makes me nervous.....

This hi-tech hotel toilet makes me nervous.....

Around the hotel, things are familiar things but all in Japanese characters.  English is often spoken at the hotel, but for the most part is hard to come by after we leave.  But like most places in the world, smiles and gestures are a way to navigate social and service conversations without too much trouble.  

 
 ..... and it sounds, AWESOME!!

 ..... and it sounds, AWESOME!!

Oddly enough, there is a 3 story YAMAHA music store near the hotel and that was stop number 1 for Associate Principal Horn, Gus Sebring and me.  Whenever we get together, I always seem to be daring him to buy a new instrument.  Today I prevailed as he did purchase a Melodica which sounds utterly fantastic!!  This shot is of him jamming with a few improvised riffs in his hotel room shortly after the purchase!

 

BSO Pre-Flight Pack Up

On the brink of our Japan trip, the BSO quickly packed up our trunks with instruments and tuxedos after the Berlioz - “Damnation of Faust”  concert on Saturday with Charles Dutoit.  

Tom Martin (clarinet) and Rob Sheena (english horn) share a laugh as fill their wardrobe trunks on Saturday.  Each wardrobe trunk has a hanging space and drawers for two musicians - one per side.  Mine is #39 :-)

Tom Martin (clarinet) and Rob Sheena (english horn) share a laugh as fill their wardrobe trunks on Saturday.  Each wardrobe trunk has a hanging space and drawers for two musicians - one per side.  Mine is #39 :-)

We have respective trunks for our instruments and additional wardrobe trunks for our concert attire.  All were loaded on a semi truck late Saturday night that will go to an airport and then on a plane or series of planes to meet us when we arreive Nagoya, Japan on Wednesday evening, November 1st.  

Because I love my trombone (and practicing it) so much, it is not in my instrument trunk - which instead has my back up trombone along with mutes and accessories.  I will instead be carrying my Edwards over my shoulder along with my trusty Nikon D800e to capture any candids along the way.

The BSO trunk journey begins HERE!!  

The BSO trunk journey begins HERE!!  

We had such a great experience the last time the BSO was invited to perform in Japan and I am really excited to go again!!   This November tour will take us from Nagoya to Osaka, Kawasaki and then a long stay for concerts in Tokyo.  I’ll be updating here regularly so let me know if there’s anything you would like me to take pictures of along the way in the comments below.

Tootles!! 

-Toby

How do you choose equipment?

Answer one simple question: What do you want to sound like?  

Identical "OFT" bells at Edwards with my sorting notes......

Identical "OFT" bells at Edwards with my sorting notes......

I am at Edwards Instruments this week working on equipment with the man himself - Christan Griego.  

Choosing equipment starts the same for all of us by answering one simple question: what do you want to sound like?  But for those of us who've become more professionally relentless, the matter is more specifically: I want to build a setup that will allow me to sound like I want to sound on my worst day.

New bell selfie

New bell selfie

I am so grateful for Christan's help over the years.  We talk often of my first visits to Edwards when I was at IU and Northwestern in the late 90's.  My M.O. hasn't changed much, I have a clear idea in my head for what I want to sound like and I have a recording device with me (Zoom Q8 in this case) to verify how close I'm getting as I try various tweaks like different bells, slides, lead pipes and now mouthpieces. 

Two things most students don't do is use their own ears both in research and when choosing equipment.  How much are you listening each day to great recordings of what you want to emulate?  Is it only trombone?  When choosing equipment do you listen more to the expertise of people helping you choose a setup or is it yourself?  Although Christan is a total rockstar for ears and expertise, any person in his position won't be there when you perform or practice so it is extremely important that you can hear what you're looking for.  

Most importantly, the upgrade you're looking for must be a sound product available on your worst day.  Too often people choose equipment that is much to large that only sounds good on their best day.  This is a lot like shoe shopping with my dad when I was 8 years old and we'd buy shoes sized 1 and 1/2 size too large so I'd have room to grow into them.  I was eight and the most I was doing was chasing girls or running from bullies on the play ground, so it was cool if my shoes had room to grow.  You're buying a trombone to do very specific things under tremendous professional pressure even as a student, so a perfect fit is imperative. Christan had a great analogy: Don't make the mistake of buying Nike Air Jordan's the exact size of Michael Jordan's foot and expect to move around the court or even shoot like him.  

Trombone players get pressure from other trombone players to play loud as if that is the peak of artistic greatness and this drives them to play enormous equipment.  They don't trust their ears or their body and go too large hoping they'll grow into it.  Unfortunately they then struggle to play with clear articulation or in the upper register and sound like moo cows in the back row.  I'll admit I've fallen down the big equipment rabbit hole more than once and I always conclude the same thing - I don't want to be Michael Jordan, I want to be Bruce Lee. 

At the factory I get to see all the trombones before they're famous! 

At the factory I get to see all the trombones before they're famous! 

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