Pip Eastop, Horn player, Photographer, Trumpet player

Horn player, Photographer, Trumpet player

Cycling to work

I’m always delighted to find yet another studio in London that I didn’t previously know about. There seem to be hundreds, tucked away in all sorts of hidden corners and I’m lucky enough to live within cycling distance of a good many of them. I went to Sphere Studio for the first time yesterday.  It’s near the huge and beautiful Battersea Park and it took me under half an hour to get there – cycling some of the way through the park. It was a perfect day for cycling; warm, dry and not windy, so I arrived feeling refreshed and in a pretty good mood. To find the place, I simply put the postcode in my phone’s satnav, set it to walking mode, and followed the curt voice instructions emanating from my shirt pocket. She gets pretty cross when I deliberately take a different route but she does a pretty good job of disguising the anger in her voice as she re-routes me.

When cycling to and from work, unlike all the other cycling hornplayers I know, I don’t carry my horn on my back. To me that’s both uncomfortable and dangerous. I have quite a strong rear carrier rack on my bicycle and I attach the case to the to side of it using small elastic hooks which absorb shocks from potholes and bumps. Should I ever fall off, or get knocked off my bicycle I don’t think I want to land on my back across a horn case as this would probably damage both me and the instrument. Also the horn has far less distance to fall from the side of a rear carrier than it does from up on my back. Once it’s strapped on the the rear of the bicycle I don’t notice it’s there.

Having arrived at Sphere Studio, I found a small orchestra split up into three isolated rooms; a big one for the strings and two tiny rooms for the brass and the woodwinds. I was in a tiny room the other hornplayer Laurence Davies, trumpet players Simon Gardner and Derek Watkins, trombonists Mark Nightingale and Gordon Campbell. It’s always a delight to be playing with such brilliant musicians – even in a sweaty cramped space.

We recorded a few tracks for a new album by Mel C. It was interesting stuff – songs by Joni Mitchell, Stephen Sondheim and others – a new direction for this particular singer, I think. It all sounded great and I’m looking forward to hearing the album.

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