Thursday, 9 June 2011

David Mason and Penny Lane

I see in Thursday's Guardian that the trumpet player David Mason has died aged 85. He played in the orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Philharmonia, and I met him as one of the professors at the Royal College of Music, who would frequently turn up on examination and audition panels. Also, I recall playing in a performance of Bach's B Minor Mass with the Tilford Bach Choir and Orchestra and he was the principal piccolo trumpet.

He was a gentleman and one of the premier trumpet players of the time. But even when I knew of him he was something of a legend for playing on the Beatles' song, Penny Lane. The story goes that Paul McCartney was searching for a special sound for the song and heard Mason playing the piccolo trumpet in Bach's Second Brandenburg Concerto on television. Mason was summoned to Abbey Road by George Martin, the producer, and the rest is history. Even now when I hear David Mason on Penny Lane, it causes goosebumps.

Alan Civil was the horn player on Sergeant Pepper, and together with the other session players persistently kicked himself for agreeing a fee rather than royalties, so the story goes.

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