Principal Trombone David Pell has been a core musician with the HPO for 11 years. You might recognize David from the mainstage at FirstOntario Concert Hall (formerly Hamilton Place) or from a number of community performances with the HPO Brass Quintet.
What’s your earliest musical memory?
Pretending to play on my plastic trumpet while listening to my dad practise his trumpet. My dad is an amateur trumpet player who started in the Brantford Boys Band in the late 1940s. At 80 years old he still plays twice a week.
Why did you choose to take up the trombone?
It sort of chose me. The trumpet was too small for my lips to make a sound on and my band teacher wouldn’t let me quit so I ended up on the trombone.
What can you tell us about your instrument?
With the natural evolution of the orchestra trombones have become more complex. While the instrument has remain essentially similar for 700 years, we now use three totally different sized instruments. The Alto is very small with a high tessitura [range], the Tenor has one valve in addition to the slide and is the most common trombone, and my favourite, the Bass Trombone which sports two additional valves and has an enormous range both high and extremely low.
Do you remember your first performance with the HPO?
A performance of Sibelius’ First Symphony in the fall of 2000. The Principal trombonist at the time was a fantastic musician named Marc Donatelle. I was so impressed with the sound of the brass section, the professionalism and enthusiasm they brought to performing great music.
How about your favourite?
Brahms’ Third Symphony, led by former Music Director James Sommerville in 2013. Our former Music Director has a real gift for getting directly to the soul of a piece of music. I remember this performance as being a magical one where time sort of stood still on stage while Brahms’ beautiful chorale writing transported us all.
If you could grab a coffee with one composer, past or present, who would it be?
Pierre Boulez. Boulez pushed music’s boundaries for many years, eschewing the romance and challenging players and listeners to be brave and innovative. In his later years he came back to the great masters and became one of the great champions of the music of Mahler and others. He was a great intellect who found the true depth and power of music lies somewhere between the head and the heart.
What are you most looking forward to in the 16-17 Season?
Some of the most fun brass writing for orchestra was done in the early 20th century and I am very much looking forward to our season finale of Don Juan, Petrouchka and the wonderful Korngold Violin Concerto.
Catch David Sunday, August 21 as the HPO Brass Quintet returns with another FREE outdoor performance at Seven Sundays in Gage Park. Bring your blankets and chairs, and enjoy an evening of music in one of the most beautiful green spaces in the city.