My name is Jimmy and I play sectional viola with the London Gay Symphony – certainly in my opinion a greater and frankly superior instrument than the dainty violin. Ahem. You can keep your viola jokes however on occasion, especially after the longer rehearsals, I do question why as I’m left with a particularly cruel bruise under the chin – a necessary evil.
I’ve been a member of the orchestra/made cameo appearances at concerts on and off since 2013 and have loved every moment. I’m probably seen more than heard, however when I am it’s usually the sound of me wrestling a bag of skittles – more often than not inappropriately during super quiet moments in the music. Unlike other groups I’ve been a part of, the orchestra represents a real cross section, not only in the arts and gay communities but also of London as whole. Whereas in the past I’ve sometimes felt a bit alienated from other musicians in other amateur groups (for whatever reason) at LGSO there is a real openness and there is always a good conversation or two away from the music to be had with the orchestra over a few drinks post-rehearsal in the local wine bar. I myself travel from Basingstoke, several counties out, to rehearse with the ensemble every Sunday. The diversity, inclusivity, friendliness and talent (I could go on) of the orchestra has appealed to me in such a way that the journey is definitely worth making and I’ve made some truly great friends who inspire me by allowing me to be part of such a wonderful group of people.
This month we are preparing for our next concert on the 24th April with a wonderful program; Tchaikovsky’s toe tapping Polonaise from the ballet Eugene Onegin, Sibelius’ patriotic and emotive Karelia Suite (the viola section finally getting a beautiful solo line in the first movement, Jean Sibelius may you rest in serene peace) and finally, by my favourite composer, Shostakovich’s 10th Symphony. Shostakovich’s ability to capture a moment in time like a snow globe – usually periods of great unrest, struggle and change in his lifetime – aesthetically and emotionally is almost second to none. I for one cannot wait for Sunday evenings in the run up to this gig.
The term’s first few rehearsals have so far gone well; the string sectional spent tightening certain tricky passages and working through some technical challenges in relation to our instruments alongside a promising run through of the program. It’s going to be really fun and a great concert to wish us well from before our upcoming European tour to Sitges … sorry … Cologne.
If you’re unfamiliar with the forthcoming program, I’d really encourage you to listen and acquaint yourself with the music, and most importantly, make sure you purchase tickets online as soon as possible – February’s concert was standing room only, and hopefully April will be the same!