Saturday, December 25, 2010

What is the Gothic Tuba Experience?

A standing ovation with raptuous applause concluded our past two and a bit weeks of intensive rehearsals.

John proceeded to acknowledge and thank each part of the Gothic ensemble individually. I might be biased but I'm sure the brass received the largest thundering appreciation from the audience. Well, second loudest, Maestro Curro well deserved the applause and appreciation from both audience and Gothic ensemble. I read on a FaceBook quote, our standing ovation remained for at least 10 minutes. I couldn't tell either way, I was just happy to be there, right in the middle of the ensemble, feeling the energy and enthusiasm of my music colleagues.

We conquered the curse of the Gothic!

Afterward we had a reception at, where else, the bar! I caught up with a couple of old friends who were there to hear this performance. We reminisced about our previous music encounters and just had a good old chat.

I caught up Karim in the energetic mixture of people who sought the bar's services. He was with 2 members of the Havergal Appreciation Society. They were extremely happy with our production and performance. I asked them how this work and final moments sounded from the audience. I then told them what no one else but the performers saw, the way John conducted the final silence. This didn't matter to them, as they were sitting back with their eyes closed absorbing what is the Gothic symphony.

Karim from day one was very impressed with the low brass, especially our bass trombones. As they walked by us around the bar, I introduced them to each other and Karim showed his appreciation for their efforts. Of course, when bass trombonists get together, they talk shop and how to play loud. Well, not all the time but Karim seemed to be having the time of his life. Not only having been part of the Gothic experience but also chatting with the performers of his favourite instrument.

Performing in an ensemble has its pros and cons. While concentrating on your part and performing with others, quite often you can't hear all the intended sounds the composer created. As a member of the audience, you can listen to the work as it has been written. Some works have great parts to play but are boring to listen to. Some marvelous works are quite boring to perform.

I know I have missed some great moments to listen to as part of the Gothic ensemble. I had some awesome parts to perform both soloistically and with the brass and other sections. But I honestly would not have been anywhere else for this performance but for where I was. I had a first hand and an emotional view of John Curro's conclusion to this work. I had amazing sounds around my position while performing. I had a bird's eye view of Dimitri's blinder of a solo performance. Sitting right in front of the "Tu Rex" section from the chorus, was absolutely amazing. I could also see and feel the energy and excitement from other parts of the ensemble.

Karim Elmahmoudi, flew from the USA to Australia and arrived at QPAC just after lunch time on Tuesday. Thursday morning he was on a flight back home. He had a few hours to take in the sights of his hotel and we spent about 2 hours in the city. He will have spent almost twice as much time flying on a plane, then he did with his feet on Brisbane soil. To quote Karim "this is the most expensive concert I have ever been to"!

This is some of the dedication to not only Havergal Brian but to music in general, that some people are willing to make. Thank you Karim for your dedication and your friendship as a result. I'm sure you now have many Aussie mates (as seen on your FaceBook page) as a result and will continue to develop these relationships and your music adventures internationally. I know we will meet again.

So, what is the Gothic Tuba Experience?

It is many things. There is the time leading up to this Epic and historic performance. There is time spent in the practice room preparing my part of this immense Gothic orchestra. There is the performance and post celebrations.

Leading up to the Gothic performance, without hesitation, I immediately accepted my "offer of position" for the Gothic orchestra. At the same time, my relationship with a beautiful lady was having its ups and downs. My vehicle broke down, with a terminal diagnosis. Without a vehicle, my income was almost nil, as I am self employed. Among all this, I was stressing out working out celebrations for my 40th birthday. I also had people in my ear helping me with my priorities.

I have cemented my relationship with my most beautiful lady. I have a near new vehicle and many new customers keeping me busy. I am now 40 and had a wonderful birthday dinner at my favourite restaurant. I'm still friends with everyone who helped me with my priorities.

Add to this "life mix" the actual happenings documented throughout this blog. Many special moments in time were experienced with this "mixture", that can not be explained but were experienced.

Thank you for being part of this wonderful journey!

This my friends, is the  

Gothic Tuba Experience

John Szkutko


  1. Good on you, John, for taking the time to put this blog together. No doubt I'll end up putting pen to paper at some point about my own experiences, but it's good see someone else's angle, too. As I said on your facebook status, we've both had a great year of playing, including Mahler, Wagner, and "Tubby", and to finish on such a highnote was very satisfying. Congrats on your playing, and your blog, and I'll catch you next year.

  2. Awesome John. I loved your passion and enthusiasm and the constant laughs - sitting in the brass at those rehearsals was amazing! Your comments and in particular references to choristers were noted and greatly appreciated. Thanks for putting this down. Best wishes with everything, you experience life to the full and I love it!

  3. Two months on...
    Once again mate it's wonderful to see all of this again, and Congrats to you for taking the time to put this blog together. It's only been two months since we did this, but it feels much, much, longer, so being reminded of the day to day moments is a real joy to see again.
    See you at the next one :)