The band is back together, having returned to rehearsals on the Perth Concert Hall stage last week. As our excitement builds towards our mainstage return in October, Jenna Smith, Associate Principal Trumpet and Liz Chee, Associate Principal Oboe gave us some insight into their pre-concert rituals.
Jenna Smith, Associate Principal Trumpet
I like to get to Perth Concert Hall about an hour before every performance. My pre-concert routine begins by eating dinner, usually with Lorna Cook (clarinet) and Tim South (cello) who always love to check out what I bring to eat. Being a brass player, I like to perform on a full stomach.
I do a warm up about half an hour before a performance and drink lots of water. I like to prepare mentally with Dr Don Greene's Centering process.
I love sitting next to my fellow trumpet colleagues Brent Grapes and Peter Miller in performances. Sometimes we need to be in our own headspace and we let each other get in the zone before a concert. Other times we chat about anything and everything - dogs, food, swimming, gardening, anything.
Liz Chee, Associate Principal Oboe
My pre-concert ritual begins after the general rehearsal on Friday mornings. Throughout my 20’s I tried to fight a ritual seeing it as a bad thing, but now I think I have one without even trying.
I remember working with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra (an orchestra who tour a lot) and seeing that most of the players had a ritual once they got off the plane and to the hotel. It consisted of Japanese for lunch, a nap, warm up at the concert hall then back to the hotel and off to the concert. Being a tourist, I was always trying to fight the routine by going sightseeing which included shops, museums and ferry rides. I also wanted to fight it because I didn't want to end up depending on it to have a good concert or to blame a lack of ritual for how things went.
In my early years in WASO I would drive down to Fremantle and go to the markets and op shops. Now I would get too tired to do that so I have lunch out somewhere (I like the Pho soup at Mama Tran in Milligan Street), then I go home and have the biggest nap I can, walk the dog, then warm up my oboe reed (I soak it and crow it a few times) and also make sure my oboe is warm. I play through a few solos that I’m nervous about. The warm up doesn't really last longer than 10 mins. I double check my reeds are in the case along with my oboe. It's then dinner and a shower; when I’m getting ready I like to listen to Christian music because it reminds me that God is in control and that he loves me. Then I pray that he would give me the confidence and calm that I need to get through the show.
An oboist will always get to the hall at least 45 minutes before the concert so there is plenty of time to eat and check reeds on stage. About three minutes before the concert, Leanne Glover and I get into the deepest conversations of the week for some reason, from family health problems to the diamond trade in Africa.