These days I spend a lot of time thinking, reading and talking about the same things: schools, homes (and their value), country vs city, stay-at-home vs working (mums), career advancement vs work-life balance. I explore these issues mostly with the same sorts of people in the same sorts of environments. This is fine, most of the time, but one of the things that I’m starting to love about playing in an orchestra is that is, once a week, my social interactions become significantly more colourful and varied.
At last week’s rehearsal I was sitting within a foot or so of: a chirpy 20-something trombone player who works in the music industry, lives with his parents and has played in a plethora of ensembles and bands; a sweet, solemn Greek music student, quietly heartbroken about the economic collapse of his homeland; a Swiss banker in his 40s, licking the orchestra’s admin into shape with good-humoured efficiency; a quiet, warm stay-at-home mum to six children, starting to make time for her own interests after 30 years of child-rearing; a male cellist wearing one of a seemingly endless collection of glorious, flamboyant dresses. There are photographers, chemists, lawyers, singers, writers, publicists. I wouldn’t go as far as to say all humanity is there – the vibe is unmistakably middle class – but I can’t think of many other places where you would find so many different ages, nationalities and professions collaborating so enthusiastically. And, having stuck around for a quick pint after last week’s rehearsal, I’m confident it’ll make for some interesting pub trips too.