Meet Jason Evans
What first made you want to learn to play the trumpet? Can you identify a particular moment when you decided to make it your career?
I started playing when I was six: my dad used to play in brass bands, and he started me on a cornet on the Isle of Man. We were in the Castletown Metropolitan Silver Band, and we used to play there regularly as a family with my sisters also learning brass instruments. I gained a place at Chetham’s School of Music, where Gareth Small, Principal Trumpet of the Hallé Orchestra, was my teacher. He is a musical hero of mine (and is leading the Philharmonia trumpet section in today’s concert). I remember when I was 11 years old hearing him play in Mahler’s Fifth Symphony: I knew that this was what I wanted to do when I was older.
You were still a student when you were appointed Principal Trumpet of the Philharmonia – what was it like joining the Orchestra?
It was absolutely amazing, great fun and really hard work. I joined an incredible trumpet section, and owe a great deal to those first colleagues. They really helped guide me through busy times, and I wouldn’t be the musician I am now had they not been so supportive.
What’s been the highlight of your time with the Philharmonia so far?
I found working with Esa-Pekka Salonen incredibly inspiring. His interesting programming and curation of musical series led me to discover a whole breadth of repertoire I wouldn’t have played otherwise.
Near the start of my career we performed The Rite of Spring over 20 times in one season, touring the piece round Europe and Asia – and each performance was electric. The trumpet team was fab, and each concert (although on occasion a little jet-lagged!) was great fun. Schoenberg’s epic Gurrelieder, and Messiaen’s Turangalîla are also notable concerts, while Herbert Blomstedt’s Bruckner Symphonies Nos. 4 and 7 have been musical experiences that I will always remember. We are very lucky at the Philharmonia to have a great team of players, both in the section and as extras. This has led to many great concerts where we have all been able to enjoy ourselves and perform at our best.
You and Seong-Jin Cho have done most of your preparation for Thursday’s concert separately – how do you ensure you agree on the details of your interpretation when you begin to rehearse together?
We had a short rehearsal before practising with the Orchestra, but much of what we have to play isn’t necessarily together. Seong-Jin is such a wonderful musician that I’m sure it will be easy for us to work together.
What’s it like performing as a soloist in front of colleagues you’ve known for many years?
It always feels as though it’s going to be scary, and being at the front of the stage does make it very odd – I’m not used to being next to my colleagues and friends in the strings! However, it’s very easy to play with the fantastic musicians I’m surrounded by.
What concerts coming up in our London season are you particularly looking forward to, and why?
I’m very much looking forward to Copland’s Symphony No. 3 with Ryan Bancroft on 26 October – it’s a huge piece that I’ve not played before, with fantastic brass writing. I also can’t wait to play with the fabulous Mitsuko Uchida when Esa-Pekka Salonen returns to conduct the Orchestra on 25 January. I listened to her Mozart recordings a lot through the pandemic, and they reminded me how much I value music – she is one of a kind.