Martin Smith makes his Festival of Chichester debut, offering a concert entitled The Lyrical Euphonium Recital at Christ Church, Old Market Avenue, Chichester on Thursday, July 11 at 7.30pm.
Following an outstanding recent recital to a packed St Martin in the Fields, Martin will entertain on the euphonium, accompanied by pianist Chris Coote. Hummel, Elgar, Strauss, Rossini and Sir Karl Jenkins’ Euphonium Concerto will be featured in a fundraiser for the British Heart Foundation.
“In essence I was a very keen sportsman who gave up playing for 35 years and I’m now on a comeback!” Martin says.
“I was one of those fortunate people that are able to play most sports and to be able to play to a decent standard. But my body started giving out! I ran a financial services business. That was my career as well as bringing up a family. And when my body started to give out, I decided I wanted to do something. I was brought up in the Salvation Army and gave up playing when I was 18. I was embroiled in the Army and then I suppose I rebelled a little bit.
“But I thought I would go back to my euphonium and start playing again. And I felt I had not lost too much. I was taught so well. My dad was a brilliant teacher. He ran one of the best school bands in the country as well, and so there was all that background going on for me.
“I was playing the euphonium back then. I started on the cornet, but my dad saw some potential in me and I started on the euphonium. But I gave up for 35 years, and then when I came back to it, I was thinking ‘I could have been quite good at this!’
“But I did love my sports, I had a family and I had a very successful career… but now I have got more time to do the music, and being the sort of person I am, I wanted to do it properly.”
Martin obtained his fellowship at Trinity College recently (FTCL) and is enjoying an ever-growing number of recitals in the UK and abroad.
“I love the sweet sound of the instrument. If you think about its role in a brass band, it would relate to being the cello in an orchestra. That’s where it fits in.
“It is an octave below the trumpets, and it has got the sweetest sound. It derives from the Greek for sweet sound, you know the word euphonious… and I have just always enjoyed the instrument. It is not as bright a sound as a trumpet. It is just very mellow and that is what has always attracted me.
“And the joy for me is that more and more original music is being written for the euphonium. You will have heard of Karl Jenkins. He has written a euphonium concerto. The euphonium is now coming across and gaining more access as a solo instrument in front of an orchestra as well. And the feedback I always get is that people just love the sound.
“People love the gorgeous sound and the dexterity of the instrument, and not only do I enjoy playing, I really enjoy talking to the audience. I talk about the instrument and I talk about the music I am playing. It is a great way to really engage with the audience.
“I will be accompanied by Chris Coote at the recital and as a first timer at the Festival of Chichester, I’m looking forward to playing an unusual solo instrument to a Chichester audience and raising funds for the British Heart Foundation.”