Principal 1st Violin Graeme Norris and Associate Principal Trumpet Jenna Smith are this year’s Annual Giving Ambassadors.
As two of the younger players in the Orchestra, the pair are excited to be a couple of friendly faces linking our generous supporters with WASO musicians and the music. To get to know them a little better, we sat down with Graeme and Jenna to chat about why they love being professional musicians.
Graeme and Jenna are passionate about what they do. “I still pinch myself that I get paid to play the trumpet” says Jenna. Both musicians express a deep appreciation and respect for being able to be paid to pursue a career that they love.
Graeme describes it as “a job like no other. It’s a rollercoaster of emotions; sometimes you walk off stage and think ‘I’m a different person because of what just happened’, and that’s pretty special.”
There are highs and lows in the role, but both musicians agree that the highs are much more common, especially when performing their most-loved repertoire.
Jenna cites Mahler’s 5th as one of her favourites (“I get goosebumps!”), but the pair also love the work of John Williams. Jenna says “He just knows how to write for the trumpet, it’s so much fun to play.”
It’s undeniable that COVID has changed the landscape of live performance over the past 18 months, and it has certainly changed the musicians’ perspectives too. For Graeme, it has meant a renewed appreciation for excellence in performance. When you are not sure when you will next be able to perform a work on stage, every concert is an opportunity to perform at your absolute best. “I want to do this and I want to do it well.”
For Jenna, whilst her own enjoyment is important, since COVID she has had a much greater focus on the audience’s connection to the music. “Playing to a live audience and connecting with people, talking to them afterwards and seeing how much the music has uplifted or touched them, I think that’s something that’s really unique to my job.”
Jenna has also enjoyed contributing this year through the Hospital Orchestra Project (HOP). “I’ve done a few Perth Children’s Hospital visits, which I love doing. I had a really special moment: In the Mental Health Ward this young boy who was probably about 10 came up to me and held my hand while I was explaining how the trumpet worked. It was beautiful.”
The music is paramount for both artists, and Graeme and Jenna agree that WASO performs it at an exceptional standard. “Something I’ve noticed about WASO is that it’s an orchestra that takes risks, and when they take a risk and it works out, it’s amazing” says Jenna.
Graeme says “At WASO there is the luxury of rehearsal time to really mould something special.” He describes a freedom to focus on the music, in which philanthropy plays a vital role in underwriting elements of the Orchestra such as repertoire, instruments and the positions of the musicians.
“It’s an honour to do what we do, at the level that we do, and without philanthropy we couldn’t do it” he says. “I really appreciate that I get to do something I love.”
Jenna agrees, “the only reason we can play music is because we are being supported to be able to do so”.
You can support WASO’s musicians to continue to deliver exhilarating performances and enrich lives in communities and schools by making a gift to our Annual Giving campaign. Donate here.