4BR Interview - Ian Bousfield

3-Feb-2009

Black Dyke's Brett Baker has been in conversation for 4BR with Ian Bousfield of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra.


Ian BousfieldBlack Dyke's Brett Baker recently talked about all things trombone and more with Ian Bousfield, Principal Trombone of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra and one of the the finest exponenets of his craft in the brass world.

Ian grew up in the banding movement, and was a star performer with the Yorkshire Imperial Metals band as a teenager. 

He became the youngest winner ever of the prestigious Shell/London Symphony Orchestra Music Scholorship in 1979 and went on to perform with the European Union Youth Orchestra before being appointed Principal Trombone at the Halle Orchestra in 1983.

He later became the Principal Trombone at the London Symphony Orchestra before his appointment in Vienna in 2000. He is now in demand across the globe as one of the finest brass soloists of his generation. 


Brett Baker: Which aspect of your role at the Vienna Phil are you the most passionate about and why? 

Ian Bousfield: The protection of a heritage. While the rest of the world is obsessed with modernisation and the latest fad, Vienna quietly sticks to the style that has served it so well for so long. Whatever one may say about other orchestras, the Vienna Phil is the biggest brand name in classical music and the fastest to sell out.
 
Brett Baker: : What is your primary objective for the year in 2009? 

Ian Bousfield:  To enjoy myself, to be fulfilled in what I do. It's now no longer good enough for me to play well, I want to enjoy it as well - sometimes in order to get the result I want I put myself under too much pressure. 

I have such a great section here in Vienna now, it's a real joy to turn up to work. I'd also like to try and develop a bit of a life away from the trombone. I am a very expressive person, not just musically, and I'd like to try and develop in other ares like maybe amateur acting or something.

Brett Baker: What has gone well for you in 2008? 

Ian Bousfield: Well, one never stops working on ones basic technique and I feel I've turned a bit of a corner with a few thing that have been sticking for a few years. I now feel I can pick out pretty much any note on demand under any situation at even the most frightening of ppppppppppppp's! I've also started to win in my battle with the bass trumpet!

Last year we decided to move the bass trumpet from the 2nd trombones to the first because of our soloistic abilities. The only problem is that my fingers are slow and the instruments used here are in C.  So with my brain being in B flat, I had quite a bit of fun to start with.  

But I must say that playing the Ring Cycle on bass trumpet is some buzz! I had a wonderful time with the great people at the Santa Fiora Festival in Tuscany......check it out - great teachers, fantastic concerts and a wonderful place! And on a very positive note, a lot of my Burgundies are starting to drink well!

Brett Baker: I know that one of the highlights of 2008 will have been to play the Nina Rota concerto with the Vienna Phil; this is bound to help promote the trombone more as a solo instrument in the future, what can we do to increase the trombone as a solo instrument?
 
Ian Bousfield: Yes, you're right! It's a great source of pride to me to know that trombone players all over the world are now going to their conductors with the current Vienna Phil year book and saying "Hey look, if it's good enough for the Vienna Phil and Riccardo Muti in some of the biggest concert halls in the world, what's your excuse now?" 

To answer your question directly, though, is really tough - my first thought is maybe we should try to play the instrument in a way people will want to listen to, i.e. don't beat the heck out of it, re-learn how to play from the heart (not just with vibrato), try to rediscover pianissimo and remember that we are in a communication art form - we're supposed to be speaking to other peoples' hearts not showing them how good we are.   
 
Brett Baker: The Pryor solo album with the Black Dyke Band has been very successful in the trombone fraternity, and good players intelligently will listen to other good players in any idiom, however is there more we can do to encourage grass roots brass players to listen to trombone solo playing. What projects are you involved in during 2009 that will be of interest to our readers?
 
Ian Bousfield: There is this fantastic new thing that Google and Michael Tilson Thomas have cooked up called "YouTube Symphony" which looks like it's going to be amazing. 

Partly in cyber space and partly real, it will attempt to bring together musicians all across the globe via the internet. I will be part if the launch in Carnegie Hall in April and will also be the trombone mentor following that, SO, if a trombonist in Taiwan or Tintwistle wants help with a certain aspect of playing, all they have to do is go on line and I'll be there!  

I feel that this is probably one of the most exciting and important things I will ever get the chance to do. 
 
Brett Baker: Is there anything about your playing career that you do not enjoy?
 
Ian Bousfield:  I suppose the first thing that springs to mind is I don't like the feeling of being under ridiculous amounts of pressure from time to time, but I would add that I feel incredibly blessed to be doing what I'm doing. I would love a "normal" existence. 

My professional life is incredible - it really is the stuff of dreams, but my private life is, well, difficult. My obsession with music has not made life easy, and the idea of a 9-5 job with a wife, couple of kids and a big hairy dog sounds ever more attractive!
 
Brett Baker: A lot of people will think that playing in one of the world’s finest Orchestra being conducted by the finest Conductors of our time and travelling the world will be a really fantastic experience all of the time and cannot understand how there maybe something to complain about: 

Ian Bousfield: You know, musicians always moan about how badly they are treated but think about it - who treats musicians the worst? OTHER MUSICIANS! 

From the village band to the student canteen we are always getting on each others' case and putting each other under pressure. In this regard every orchestra I've worked in has been the same and I'm certainly not pleading innocence in this regard! (note to self......give the percussion section a break!)
 
Brett Baker: Can you give me the best and worst part of this situation?
 
Ian Bousfield: Not being at home very much is probably the worst thing - I have a lovely house in a village in the Vienna woods and a flat right in the centre of town, but am only in Austria six months of the year which is rather frustrating. 
 
Brett Baker: What do you think about the idea of releasing a DVD solo album as opposed to CD recording?
 
Ian Bousfield: I would be much more interested in making a teaching DVD as a kind of guide to teachers. Actually that's a good idea - I'm planning to co-write a book this year along the lines of trouble shooting for teachers, so maybe a DVD would be better.
 
Brett Baker: If you could change one thing about your role in the Orchestra what would it be?

Ian Bousfield: Yeh, I'd like a solo everyday like the one the clarinet or oboe gets!

Brett Baker: Can you give an example of something that has happened to you that we can all learn from? 

Ian Bousfield: When I was younger, the most important thing to me was that everyone thought I was a great trombonist.  If I had instead concentrated on making myself the best person and musician I possibly could, things would have been much easier for me. 

The point at which I gave up my ambition to prove things to the rest of the world, which happened around the age of 30, things have gone ever upwards for me since.  Give up misplaced ambition.  Life is one long learning process. 

Make sure that you only ever do things for the right reasons in order to be true to yourself.  Never do things simply for how it will appear to others. 

Brett Baker: What is your Favourite film / TV programme?

Ian Bousfield:
 "Being there" and "Frasier"
 
Brett Baker: What is your favourite food / drink?

Ian Bousfield:
 My last meal..... Pigeon from Bresse with a bottle of Vosne Romanee 1er Cru from a good grower (see the Frasier connection?)

Brett Baker: What is your favourite car?
 
Ian Bousfield: BMW M4 (I am currently fighting with myself not to buy one!)
 
Brett Baker: What is your favourite holiday destination? 

Ian Bousfield:
 Beaune

Brett Baker: Favourite non-musical pastime / ways to relax? 

Ian Bousfield: Cooking OR a big sporting event - I love the sound of a big crowd.


This interview was undertaken by Brett Baker on behalf of the British Trombone Society

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