Interview with our musician Laurence Dubar, flutist and piccolo
Do you remember your debut on the orchestra?
I started playing on the Belgian National Orchestra thanks to Baudouin Giaux, the orchestra’s flute soloist. He was teaching at the Royal Conservatory of Brussels where I was studying. It was 25 years ago! I was thrilled when one day in September he called me to take part in a production, in which I was to play the piccolo in Tchaikovsky’s symphony No. 4. At the time, I hardly had any experience playing in an orchestra and I didn’t realise what I was up against … It’s one of the most terrifying and difficult solos in the repertoire. The symphony has four movements. The piccolo however, only enters in the third movement, it’s completely exposed, which means waiting, staying concentrated and not panicking ... It was nevertheless an opportunity to show my ability, both to the piccolo section and to Yuri Simonov, the orchestra director, who later became the musical director. As a result of such an impressive debut, I was able to take part in further productions, and pass the test to enter the flute section.
Have things changed since your arrival?
Even though it was a promising start, I still had much to learn! I had no experience. It was the beginning of a long training process, which has continued since. The orchestra has four flutes. When I began, I alternatively played flute solos or the piccolo in different productions. As time went by, however, I realised that the piccolo suited me best. I felt more comfortable, and so I played in that section more. There were still quite a few things to learn: exactness, trying different sounds... This has been ongoing for over 20 years. It’s a never-ending process!
Can you talk to us about your instrument?
Depending on the piece, I regularly play the flute and the piccolo. But after all these years and regardless of the musical score, the piccolo is by far my favourite instrument. I’m totally obsessed with the tiny instrument: how will it sound? Will I have enough time to practice properly? How will I feel? ... I often compare myself to a professional athlete: warm-up, exercise, relaxation ... Playing the piccolo is challenging: you have to be able to play around with contrasting timbres, both piercing and shrill, and then unexpectedly produce delicate, light, discreet notes.
Do you have a particular memory?
There are so many! Tours, soloists, orchestra directors, the list is endless! My first Queen Elisabeth competition, the tours to Japan, and having been directed by Lorin Mazel, are etched in my memory.
Do you have pieces you would like to play with the orchestra?
Shostakovich’s symphony No. 7, Holst’s The Planets, Arnold’s English Dances ...