David Sabourin – a highly-valued classically-trained tuba player, as well as owner of the White Rock-based Tapestry Music empire – has played all kinds of gigs in his career, including many with the quintet he co-founded, A Touch of Brass.
But surely one of the most memorable will have been playing in the orchestra hired for the Andrea Bocelli concert at Rogers Arena Thursday (June 13).
The Italian tenor, songwriter and music producer – celebrated for both classical work and pop hits such as Con Te Partiro/Time To Say Goodbye – is currently on a North American tour, for which orchestras are contracted for each city.
Sabourin said he estimates he will be part of an ensemble of between 50 and 60 freelancing musicians, mostly drawn from the ranks of the Vancouver Opera orchestra.
“So I’ll know most of the guys, but not the arrangements,” he told Peace Arch News, en route to a three-hour first rehearsal for the concert on Wednesday (a second dress rehearsal is scheduled for the afternoon of the 8 p.m. Thursday performance).
“The production has brought its own music, and they did not want to release it to us ahead of time, so the first time I’ll see it is on the stand tonight,” he said, resignedly.
“That’s the life of a musician!”
It’s exciting to have the opportunity to work with such a big name, nonetheless, he said.
“I’ve never worked with Bocelli before this – I played with (the late Luciano) Pavarotti before, but not Bocelli,” he said.
“I understand around 80 per cent of the music will be classical, along with a couple of the more popular pieces he’s done.”
But the concert will also be notable for him for another reason, he said.
“It’ll be the first time I’ve ever been paid for doubling – I’m not only playing the tuba but also the cimbasso.
“It’s like a contrabass (valve) trombone; a four-valved instrument pitched in F.”
Often called for in Verdi operas, the cimbasso provides a more growling, menacing tone than the warmer sound of the tuba – although the latter was often substituted for it until a movement to be more true to the score took hold a dozen years ago, Sabourin said.
“The one I play doesn’t look like a lot of the others. It was owned by a guy who played in the San Francisco opera, until he sold it to Vancouver musician Sharman King (a bass trombonist with the VOA).
“We were at a rehearsal and Sharman tells (former conductor) Jonathan Darlington that he owns one. Jonathan says ‘great’ and then turns to me and says ‘next year we’re playing Verdi’s Macbeth – and you’re playing cimbasso.’
“I leaned over to Sharman and said ‘thanks a lot!’ “
Biggest challenge for him, Sabourin anticipated would be reading for the cimbasso – the part is notated in C, like a tuba, he said, but the fingering of each note is different.
“I’ll just have to remember which instrument I’m playing,” he laughed.
A limited number of tickets for the concert (starting at $118) are still available at ticketmaster.ca