Philip Cobb was appointed LSO joint Principal Trumpet in 2009 while he was only 21 years of age and on Thursday 22 September he will be stepping into the spotlight in a performance of Haydn's Trumpet Concerto. He sat down with Rebecca Sharp to talk about the piece, performing with the LSO Brass Ensemble and growing up with the UK brass band tradition.
Could you talk a bit about your journey up to now, and how you’ve reached your current position as LSO Principal Trumpet?
I started playing when I was 3 and a half. My grandfather was a player, my father is a player, my brother had just started – he’s three and a half years older than me. When I was that sort of age, there were cornets everywhere, there were trumpets everywhere, so I just sort of copied my brother and my dad!
The Brass Band tradition for Brass players in the UK is huge. I came up through the fantastic tradition that is the salvation army, so I joined a youth band when I was about 7, then later on I graduated to the senior band, and in the process was involved in the National Youth Brass Band, the local borough wind band, and also the LSO Brass Academy scheme.
You’re also a member of the LSO Brass Ensemble, with whom you’ve toured to Japan. How have you been received abroad?
I think the first night a couple of years ago when we went to Japan, there were about two and a half thousand people that were there, just for a brass quintet, which was quite remarkable! It can seem a little bit strange when you do a show like that, and at the end you’ve got a couple of hundred people queueing up for autographs – that’s a bit strange. It’s very flattering I suppose!
'Just to stand at the front of an Orchestra such as the LSO is something I dreamt of as a kid.'
When you’re performing with the Brass Ensemble versus the Orchestra, is it a different kind of experience for you?
Very much so. It’s a completely different ball game to sitting at the back of the Orchestra and occasionally having some tunes to play – obviously you’ve got a lot more work to do in a Brass Quintet concert, so it’s a very different mind-set. But it’s great to do both, and it’s nice to have a change.
What’s so special about the Haydn Trumpet Concerto?
It’s the most famous Trumpet Concerto, and most musicians will be able to sing you the second or the third movement of it. It’s an extremely complete work, and is pretty important in the history of the Trumpet as well. It’s a piece I’ve been playing for a long time – even before I went to music college. Hopefully there won’t be too many trumpet players practising the fingering whilst listening to me!
Over the last few seasons we’ve seen other Principals Tim Hugh, Roman Simovic and Neil Percy take centre stage as concerto soloists. How do you feel about that performing the first brass concerto as a soloist from the Orchestra, and what are you looking forward to?
I’m very excited about it. Just to stand at the front of an Orchestra such as the LSO is something I dreamt of as a kid. I’ve not done the Haydn Trumpet Concerto all that much with a full symphony orchestra, so even just to play it through with the Orchestra will be fantastic.
Philip Cobb plays the Haydn Trumpet Concerto conducted by Gianandrea Noseda at the Barbican Centre in London on Thursday 22 September at 7.30pm. The programme also features Debussy La mer and Shostakovich Symphony No 5. Tickets are available online here.