A short interview with WASO's Principal Bass Trombone, Philip Holdsworth

What’s your earliest memory of playing music?
Apart from the usual “pot-lid-percussionist” as a child; my first introduction to music playing was piano lessons. These started around the age of 10. I first started on brass instruments at 12, with the euphonium, followed soon after by the trombone.

When did you realise that you wanted to become a professional musician?
I always remember the first day that I went to the Melbourne Youth Orchestra, back in 1972 (so long ago!). The effect on me was huge! I loved every minute and realised that that was where I wanted to be; as much as possible. I don’t think I immediately thought “I want to be a professional musician”, but I caught the bug right then, and becoming a full time classical musician was an inevitable process.

When did you join WASO?
I began with WASO at the start of the 1985 season. That’s 33+ years ago!! (and still loving it!)

What are you most looking forward to this WASO season?
There are two pieces that come to mind. The first was in 2018 Master Series 1 – with Strauss’ An Alpine Symphony. The second might surprise some – in the 2018 Masters 2 concerts there was the Nielsen Flute Concerto. This has only the one trombone part, for the bass trombone, which is quite demanding and prominent. At one stage the solo flute and the bass trombone battle out a “good versus evil” duet, which is great fun to play. Then there are plenty of other pieces; Beethoven 9 is always special.

Do you have a shortlist of works or composers that you love to play the most?
Mahler is always at the top of the list. Brahms also comes to mind. One of my first professional jobs was a season of Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet which has always remained a favourite, along with all his music.

What is your secret non-music related talent?
I’ve always been interested in computers, though these days I feel a little left behind with all the advancements. I dabble in photography (not as much as I’d like, though). I’m pretty good at Sudoku – something that has got me through many a slow-moving rehearsal or pit season!

The most important non-music job for me is being a dad and husband. I have two kids – Liz and James and my loving wife, Jan. My family are the most important to me. I think I do a reasonable job of it!?!

Featured in 2018 Masters 2 & Classics 2 Programs.