From The Back Desk - Simon Styles, Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich

Our new interview series continues, this time with Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich's tuba-player, Simon Styles - find out about tantrums, nose-bleeds and touching every emotion at once!

simon styles tonhalle orchestra zurich

Name: Simon Styles

Instrument: Tuba, in every variation

Ensemble: Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich

Why did you decide to become a musician?
Because at the age of about 15 it suddenly became very clear to me that I couldn't possibly imagine wanting to do anything other than make music professionally at the highest level I could attain.

What's the one performance from your career that sticks in your mind?
Hard… Some of the concerts we did with Kurt Sanderling really stand out. Sibelius 2 was raised to the level of a highly spiritual experience.

What's the most embarrassing thing that's happened to you on stage?
Sadly there is a catalogue. A huge nose bleed which started during the 1st movement of Mahler 3, when I was really too ill to be at work, perhaps.

If you could work with one musician, living or dead, who would it be and why?
Ralph Vaughan Williams. I have always adored his music, and he seems so human.

In concert, have you ever thought, "I can't actually play this bit very well, I'm going to mime and hope no- one notices"?
Never mimed. Have sometimes thought, "Well I hope I get away with this," but being the player of an instrument which is in every sense singular, you can't ever hide, without being found out.

Could you give us an example of the downside of the profession, something that the average concert-goer might not know about?
Not really, though I don't think the average concert-goer going for a nice relaxing evening, so to speak, realises the tension under which some players are performing. And they shouldn't do either, that is also part of the job description.

Does the touring lifestyle bring out rock star behaviour in the orchestra?
Not that I have noticed...

Have you witnessed any serious diva strops in your time as a musician?
Oh yes. Walk-offs, tantrums, toys out of the pram, I think entirely from minor performers, by the way.

What's the biggest challenge facing musicians like you these days?
At my age, which is 56, maintaining a standard that I think is good enough for the people sitting around me.

What's the best thing about being a musician?
Being able to perform some of mankind’s greatest and most ethereal creations, and thus for a fleeting moment being able to create together something really worthwhile, something that touches all the emotions, sometimes all at once.

Video: Watch the Tonhalle play Mahler

Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich