Nicky's Notes


Working with Wynton Marsalis

I’ve had the great privilege of spending time with Wynton Marsalis over the last few weeks in preparation for a workshop of his new violin concerto, which is to be premiered in November with the London Symphony Orchestra. This process has already been a life changing one for me. Wynton always says he writes pieces for people and that it’s a very personal endeavour –

taking one look at many of his large scale compositions will confirm this to be true, but I now have a far better understanding of what the practicality of this means. We have engaged in endless discussions over form, notation, orchestration and perhaps most of all the limitation and capabilities of the violin. I never imagined I could be so deeply invited into the creation of a piece of music, and my education throughout has been unparalleled. During this short time I have learnt to hear differently, to myself and to others, and I have found a new understanding of freedom in colour, time and expression. I’ve received many weighty, holistic lessons – all those talking about musi related to life, and vice versa. I will express my gratitude by putting in as many hours as it takes and hopefully doing this wonderful concerto justice.

I did, however, manage to teach Wynton one thing in return – that the very noble but, let’s face it, basically just loud and egoistic trumpet will never compete with the violin in sophistication, beauty, subtlety and diversity. Not even when he plays it…