One of the greatest trombone solos in the entire orchestral repertoire appears in the Tuba mirum of Mozart’s Requiem. I’ve gotten to play the Requiem about a dozen times, and I never get tired of it – it is so much fun to play! Most of those performances took place when I was living in Toronto (1992-1999). There was even one month (April 1998) when I played it on three separate occasions: with the Windsor Symphony, Hamilton Philharmonic, and a pick-up orchestra. The latter performance took place in a church in Oakville, and the trombone section consisted of Zud Gaskin on alto, me on tenor, and Bob Nicholson on bass. I’ll never forget the first rehearsal – I was having a rough time trying to find my sound, and I just couldn’t get comfortable. My chops felt fine, so it had to be the acoustics of the church that was the problem. The Tuba mirum was called, and I made it through the solo well enough, but it just felt like I was playing inside a cardboard box. I hadn’t experienced stuffy acoustics like this ever before, and it was very disconcerting. This was not going to be a fun gig. At home that night, I decided that if I took my valve off and played with the straight horn, maybe things might feel a little easier the next day. When I unscrewed the valve section and removed it from the bell, something dropped out and clattered on the floor – my missing pencil. Somehow my pencil had managed to find its way into the neckpipe of my trombone, and I’d played the whole rehearsal with it lodged in there. Needless to say, at rehearsals the next day I was pleased to discover that the acoustics in the church had improved dramatically overnight!
Hey Bob, can I borrow your pencil? I can’t seem to find mine. – Dale Sorensen, April 12, 1998