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Meet Opera North’s Principal Trumpet posted 26 Nov 2019

Meet Opera North’s Principal Trumpet

Murray Grieg, who is giving up his position as Opera North’s Principal Trumpet after 30 years to become the Company’s Head of Instrumental Learning, tells us about the five pieces of music, book and luxury he would take to a desert island.

"Having never really been one for favourites and being often prone to procrastinate, the job of choosing five of my favourite pieces of music has taken some doing!

It was a relatively straight-forward decision to include some music of JS Bach, but where on earth do you start? Purely selfishly as a trumpeter, it is easy to opt for a work with a particularly prolific trumpet part such as the second Brandenburg Concerto, Cantata No 51, or the Magnificat. In the end I opted for the Mass in B Minor It is a piece that I’ve always enjoyed playing and feel that it encapsulates all of the greatness of Bach.

I also knew that my selection would include a Mozart opera having enjoyed spending so much time over the past 30 years performing most of them. I ended up settling on Don Giovanni, as personally I feel that it all just ‘fits together’ so well and contains such a variety of Mozart’s genius.

When I first discovered Schoenberg’s Gurrelieder, I couldn’t quite believe what I was hearing. I was truly amazed and mesmerised by the lush, late-Romantic music that fills this huge work. Performing it in the Berliner Philharmonie with the European Community Youth Orchestra under Claudio Abbado, with Jessye Norman and Brigitte Fassbaender singing, is one of the most memorable experiences of my career. Oh yes, and there was a young incredibly talented keyboard player in the orchestra by the name of Richard Farnes!

Not only has Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream been one of my favourite pieces to perform, but it is also one of the most incredible works of opera that I know. Admittedly it has the benefit of a ‘well established narrative’, but the way in which Britten transforms it with his amazing orchestration and vocal writing is quite incredible. I could truly listen to it all day!"

Hear Murray Grieg in one of his final performance as Opera North's Principal Trumpet on Saturday 30 November at Leeds Town Hall.