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First Performance of new Suite for Bass Trumpet by Gordon Carr

On Sunday 18th May 2014, conducted by Les Lake, Surrey Brass featured the First Performance of Gordon Carr’s "Modest Suite for Bass Trumpet" by Gordon Carr, with Bass Trumpet Soloist John Shaddock. This is probably the first piece ever written for Solo Bass Trumpet, and unlike so many new pieces of classical music, is highly approachable with a huge array of beautiful tunes.

John pre-recorded the suite, with piano reduction accompaniment, on YouTube here.

Bass Trumpet Soloist John Shaddock

The premiere of this new work for Bass Trumpet is being performed by local trumpet player, John Shaddock for whom the piece was written. John says "The idea for Gordon to write the piece came from trumpeter Simon Cheney. The orchestral repertoire for the instrument is very small, the history is very confused and there is almost no solo repertoire. The Bass Trumpet is a name that encompasses a family of low trumpets, the E flat which I play being the smallest of the family. The bulk of the orchestral repertoire was written by Richard Wagner for "The Ring" cycle. Gordon Carr's piece covers a range of three octaves from second F sharp below middle C upwards, exactly the same as the Wagner's "Ring". The second movement alone covers the whole three octaves. The piece was written to stretch the technical demands on the instrument and to build a solo repertoire for the instrument. Gordon is currently writing another piece for 5 trumpets (one of which is bass trumpet) and percussion."

Since 2009, John has been Sub Principal trumpet at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, and played Bass Trumpet in their recent productions of Wagner’s Das Rheingold and Die Walkure. John has also played the Bass Trumpet in a recording of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra as well as performances with the Bournemouth and BBC Symphony Orchestras. John began his studies at the Royal Academy of Music in 1978 and has freelanced for most of his career. He was a member of the Birmingham Royal Ballet in the late 80's and principal trumpet for English Touring Opera for many years. 

John also has a long relationship with members of Surrey Brass, having played alongside John Goodwin and Steve Dawes in the trumpet section of the National Youth Orchestra many years ago.

Composer Gordon Carr

Gordon Carr
Gordon Carr

Gordon Carr was born in Matlock, Derbyshire in 1943 and educated at Dulwich College and the Royal Academy of Music where he studied the horn with Barry Tuckwell. He has enjoyed a varied freelance career, which encompassed playing with all the major London orchestras. As a session musician he played on the soundtrack of numerous films including 'The Boys from Brazil', 'The Spy who Loved Me' and 'Straw Dogs' and on the backing tracks of much pop music. As a soloist he appeared at the Wigmore Hall, on the South Bank and around the UK, Italy and Belgium.

In his twenties he began to write music, and wrote several large scale works for the Locke Brass Consort whilst a member of this group. In all he has written in excess of 190 works. For thirty years he taught at The Centre for Young Musicians and also taught at Trinity College for twenty years, and throughout his career has coached and conducted on holiday music courses.

Gordon Carr says "A Modest Suite for Bass Trumpet" was written last year (2013) for tonight's soloist and is the latest in a long love affair with the trumpet. This began as a young lad when Mr Shaw, our road sweeper, gave me a 78 rpm recording of  George Eskdale playing Haydn's wonderful concerto, it was love at first sound! Later William Overton, principal trumpet in the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Bandmaster of Lewisham Salvation Army Band, was inspirational for me. It was because of his help that I was able to become a professional musician. As a member of The Locke Brass Consort I wrote Dialogue For Trumpet and Brass for James Watson, a trumpeting firebrand and then much later two works for his pupil, the marvellous Simon Cheney. These pieces, "An Excursion" and "Fanfares And Sorrows" are recorded on The Audio Concept label and "An Excursion" is published by Emerson Edition. It was because of this recording that John Shaddock asked me to write a piece for the Bass Trumpet, an intriguing request. As far as I am aware there is no other solo work for this orchestral instrument. It is in four movements, the first reflecting its orchestral heritage, the others becoming ever more adventurous. Originally with Pianoforte, tonight's brass version is the brain child of Surrey Brass's William Spencer. The Bass Trumpet could not have a more enthusiastic advocate than John Shaddock and for that and his formidable skill a composer can only be grateful. Thank you also to the players of Surrey Brass undaunted by the demands placed on them."

Conductor Les Lake

The concert was conducted and presented by Leslie Lake, founder of the famous Locke Brass Consort, and recently retired Bass Trombonist from the English National Opera. He also presented an insight into the development of instruments used in today’s orchestral brass section.