Cowardly Lion in Concert

Cowardly Lion in Concert

Not unlike Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz, many displaced Anglophones (or Allophones) now living in Quebec City find themselves in a new land, meeting new people and embarking on adventures that they never could have imagined back in Kansas.

I was sitting on the steps of the Chancel in the Saint-Jean Baptiste church (L’église Saint-Jean-Baptiste) on rue Saint-Jean. It was December 2, my music stand was unfolded, my trumpet was on my lap and 120 musicians from the Ensemble philharmonique Edwin-Bélanger and the Choeur de Québec surrounded me. It was our last rehearsal before our Christmas benefit concert in celebration of the 125th anniversary of the parish. I was a little nervous (understatement) and it struck me that Quebec City is the kind of place where if you’re not careful, you might find yourself getting involved in all sorts of things you hadn’t planned.

The summer previous I had seen an ad posted at Twigg Music for a local musical ensemble. They were gearing up for their second season and looking for musicians of all calibers and the practices were being held 850 metres away from my house. I thought it must be a sign. I hadn’t played my old trumpet in 15 years, but a few months earlier, I had purchased a slightly used silver trumpet from eBay on a whim. I decided that it was time to see the Wizard. I was going to follow the yellow brick road.

There were two trumpet players already there when I arrived for my first rehearsal, an older fellow and another first timer like myself. There was only sheet music for two trumpets parts, but I wasn’t worried because I had already decided that I probably wouldn’t be coming back. I started playing. The music was difficult and the notes weren’t sounding right. I realized that the piece I was reading was written in the key of C. The next one was written in F, which was even worse because I was playing a B-flat trumpet. I was going to have to sight read and transpose at the same time and neither one was my forte. It was making my decision not to return a whole lot easier.

“Wait a minute, Fellows. I was just thinking. I really don’t want to see the Wizard this much. I’d better wait for you outside.” – The Cowardly Lion

Courage, I told myself. Hadn’t I taught my kids about not giving up? Didn’t I always say that things aren’t always easy the first time and that you had to keep trying? Well forget that advice; I wasn’t anywhere near as good as the older trumpet player with the moustache. Turns out he was a professional musician who had spent the last 20 years playing for the Orchestre Symphonic de Quebec.  I was slightly dismayed and relieved. To make matters worse, he wasn’t the only one. I was almost completely surrounded by retired professional musicians.

“Lions and tigers and bears! Oh my!” – Dorothy

I figured that if I ever wanted to play in an orchestra, it was going to be now or never. To make a long story short, I decided to stay and hoped that the Wizard would give me some nerve.

Categories: Opinion

About Author

Jason Enlow

Jason Enlow is a Special Education Technician at an English elementary school. He was born in Montreal, Quebec and grew up in Burlington, Ontario. Jason studied Radio and Television at Ryerson University in Toronto. His previous employers include CityTV, CBC, The Weather Network, and Global Television. He’s worked as a DJ, camera operator, musician, teacher, translator and video game content designer. Jason moved to Quebec City in 1997 where he still lives today with his wife and three sons.