That was the one word response from stunned teenagers after trombonist Jonathan Pippen had started playing for them at a recent Gloucestershire Music Service Workshop.
Led by conductor Desford MD Tom Davoren on a rainy Monday evening, the young players of the Gloucestershire Symphonic Wind Orchestra and the trombone students of Gloucestershire Music were simply blown away by the Central Band of the RAF star.
It proved to be a great evening of entertainment and excellence from the very start, as 10 of young trombonists from Gloucestershire Music opened the event working alongside Jonathan in a new ensemble — ‘Flash Mob Ninjas’.
With music especially arranged for the group, it wasn’t long before Jonathan had the musicians focused and engaged, with the ensemble learning about the importance of leadership, intonation, practice methods, phrasing and articulation in improving individual contributions to create a successful ensemble.
Meanwhile, the second part of the evening was focused around adult musicians and hosted by the Gloucestershire Symphonic Wind Orchestra. With two of Tom’s compositions on the menu, it was a rare opportunity to work alongside the composer on two of his most popular works.
The Fairey Band Associate Conductor took the reins for a series of exercises and games designed to breakdown the natural barriers and stuffiness that can exist in adult ensembles, while heightening elements needed for effective musical performance, including counting, breathing, ensemble and trust.
He also encouraged the Wind Orchestra to listen intensely to each other, explaining the elements that he intended to focus on before beginning. With the ice was broken, Tom got right to the heart of musical matters with the stunning trombone solo ‘Diversions on Calon Lan’, featuring Jonathan as soloist.
Steven Legge, Head of Instrumental & Vocal Tuition for Gloucestershire Music, told 4BR: “No wonder we had such a ‘wow’ response from the players.
The obvious friendship and mutual understanding of the work by both musicians gave a real insight into the relationship between conductor and band, composer and soloist and how a band should accompany effectively.”
Tom’s ‘Windy City Heart Break’, also gave the band a chance to accompany their own principal flutist, Helen Harper.
No wonder we had such a ‘wow’ response from the players Steven Legge, Head of Instrumental & Vocal Tuition for Gloucestershire Music
Steve added: “Dynamically it complemented perfectly, allowing Tom to drill the band in intonation and ensemble, engaging the players to listen across the band and articulate together to make a great sound.”
As one musician later told 4BR: “What a great evening! I enjoyed working with Tom and Jonathan and learnt so much. The enthusiasm for music and obvious friendship they share, coupled with their joint musical experiences made for such an enjoyable, insightful and productive evening.”
As Steve Legge added, “Tom and Jonathan both exude a wonderful enthusiasm and commitment to high quality music making.
Working with professional musicians of the highest quality is an essential part of a rounded education for all musicians, and this experience certainly did not disappoint.”