A Road Trip to Ottawa and a Capital Brassworks Concert

A few weekends ago, I took a trip to Ottawa.  A lot of good things came together that weekend to convince me to make the trip:  needed to burn last year’s vacation at work; Capital Brassworks concert announced for that Friday (March 25th); needed to return my parents’ spare laptop that I got working with Linux; and visit my parents.  Where do I start with how great this weekend was???

ok, then, first – the road trip there.  To get somewhere with my goal of familiarizing myself with Wagner’s operas, I purchased a nice little boxed set from my local used CD shop in Toronto (Amoroso).  Admittedly, I overpaid for it — she charged me 25$, which I was giddy about.  Turns out Amazon is selling new copies for 18$.  Oh well — plus shipping and handling, etc…  The drive was fantastic.  Great weather made for time flying by – and operas too.  I got though Das Rheingold and 3 CDs of Die Walküre.  I’m pretty happy with the recording so far.  Overall, the brass are strong, clean, and clear.  Bass and contrabass trombones are nice and growly.  I do with the tuba was a little bigger sounding though.

I got to Ottawa in time to meet old friends from UofO, when I was in the music program:  Lisa and Eric (though I knew Lisa from grade school too).  Eric and I were in the Ottawa Youth Orchestra together too – he plays trombone.  I had such a fantastic time with them (both then and now), but this isn’t really the focus of this blog entry, so I’ll have to return to this later.

Then the Capital Brassworks concert.  “Dramatic Brass” was the name of the concert and the centerpiece was an arrangement of Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet for *large* brass ensemble:  5 trumpets, 4 horns, 4 trombones, euph, 2 tubas and a bevy of percussion.  The concert was brilliant.  Some really virtuosic playing by all the musicians and the church’s acoustics were fantastic.  During intermission, I got to chat with a number of the musicians (Karen, Steve) and later too at a local pub.  The two tubists were Nick Atkinson (my teacher from when I was at UofO; also tubist with the National Arts Centre Orchestra) and Martin Labrosse (tubist with the Ottawa Symphony Orchestra and first tuba with the Central Band of the Canadian Forces).

I chatted with Martin for a while at the end of the concert.  It was a good while ago, but we were in the UofO wind ensemble together for a time.  It was after I had quit the school, but returned to play in the ensemble.  I got to catch up with Nick too later at the pub and gave him the ‘Coles Notes’ on all the stuff I’ve been doing since leaving Ottawa.

Between Lisa, Eric, Nick and Martin, that whole evening was a flood of memories  So many things I’d forgotten when I was 19/20/21.  Beyond just staying in school, there are a few things I would like to have done over — like staying in touch with Lisa and Eric.  I moved around lots and then a divorce and some more moving.  But I didn’t even go to their graduation!

Ok – the rest of the weekend was just as fantastic.  Saturday was a nice relaxing day with my parents.  I worked on the laptop to get it working with their home network and then we went to see a movie in the evening.  Sunday, out of a total fluke of timing, was a Ottawa Youth Orchestra concert.  Mom and Dad got me a ticket to go with them.  The performance was great and John Gomez is still conducting them (more memories).  Finally, Monday was a lesson with Nick Atkinson.  More on that with my next blog post.

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