Classical conversation

Tottle Trio: Bruce Roberts, Cathy Irons and Grant Bartley

It’s like having a musical yarn with your mates.

That’s what you can expect at the Tottle Trio concert this weekend.

It will be a mixed session including classical chamber music to selections from West Side Story showcasing a combo of strings, brass and piano.

Cathy Irons, who plays the violin, says it will be an intimate gig.

“It is more like a conversation between friends. I can express myself musically and connect with the audience. It is a musical conversation. We have also been playing together for some years so have a comfortable ease with each other and I think that comes across.”

She’ll be joined on stage, at the Thomas Brown Gallery, by New Zealand Symphony Orchestra trumpeter Bruce Roberts and musical director of the Christchurch Youth Choir Grant Bartley on keys.

Roberts is bringing a trio of trumpets with him.

One has a rather curious backstory.

He spotted a corno di caccia (hunting horn) on a German shopping website. It was being used as a plant pot and he decided to give it a new lease of life.

Apparently it needed a lot of careful cleaning and oiling before it was ready to crack a tune.

Music on the night will include Vivaldi’s Concerto for Violin and Trumpet, selections from Bernstein’s West Side Story, Vaughan Williams’ The Lark Ascending and Charlie Chaplin’s Smile.

It will also include the premiere of a piece by South African-based composer Malcolm Dedman, Universal Mysteries. The piece was commissioned especially for Tottle Trio after Irons contacted him following a stint in her home country.

“The trumpet, violin and piano combination is very unusual so it is really hard to find music. Universal Mysteries is very atmospheric at the beginning asks questions about the universe. The second part is very fun and playful.”

Irons has always been fascinated by the trumpet, something that may stem from her childhood. Her dad took up the trumpet when he was 40 years old – possibly the result of a mid-life crisis.

He dragged her along to concert after concert which shaped her love of classical and jazz music. It also kept her away from traditional pop tunes into orchestral life.

The trio played Queenstown last year and are stoked to be invited back.

Tottle Trio, 568 Speargrass Flat Road, Lake Hayes, Queenstown. Tomorrow night, 7pm. Tickets, adult $25, child $10