I went to a high school that had a full symphony orchestra, and even back then I could see, as a lowly quirky nerdy bassoonist, that certain instruments attracted certain personality types. The brass players were brash. The woodwinds were varying degrees of studious and serious, depending on how many reeds there were on their instruments (in decreasing order from two reeds to none.) The trombonists were the clowns of the orchestra. The violists were invisible.
These tropes are everywhere in the world of symphonic music. Nothing excites musicians more than jokes about their instrument. (Why is a bassoon better than an oboe? Because a bassoon burns longer.)
But beyond the jokes, each instrument does have such a distinctive voice. I thought it would be fun to see what would happen if I mixed together the most famous melodies that have been written for a particular instrument. What fantastical character might emerge? Perhaps, a character with a magical story to tell.
Starting this weekend on CBC Music and on In Concert, the show I host on CBC Radio 2, the instruments of the orchestra come to life on Orchestral Tales, a brand new season of The Signature Series. I’m pretty excited to share this – I’ve been working hard on this along with Denise Ball, the executive producer of In Concert.
On Orchestral Tales, you’ll meet vivid characters inspired by the instruments of the orchestra.
Follow along here – new tales will be published every Friday for the next ten weeks, starting on Friday, January 6th.