Conversation with Philip Cobb
WHEN DID YOU START TO PLAY AND WHO TAUGHT YOU?
One Christmas when I was three and a half my grandfather [Roland] gave me a battered Bandmaster cornet; this meant that I could copy my dad and brother playing the cornet. When I was seven, lessons began officially; my dad taught me cornet and Marjorie Ringham taught me piano.
WHAT DO YOU DO NOW?
I have been first trumpet in the London Symphony Orchestra (LSO) for almost five years.
HOW DID YOU GET THERE?
At 18 I studied for a degree in music at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, London. During those four years I played in various orchestras in London and around the UK. Halfway through my fourth year I worked with the London Symphony Orchestra and on my final day at college my role as principal trumpet was signed, sealed and delivered!
WHAT MUSIC PARTICULARLY INSPIRES YOU?
I like all sorts of music – jazz, big band, classical.
WHO ARE YOUR FAVOURITE COMPOSERS?
As a trumpet player, I like the composers that keep me busy such as Mahler and Shostakovich. As far as the Army’s concerned there’s Kenneth Downie, Wilfred Heaton and Paul Sharman. I used to billet with Paul when I was in the ISB; he’s a good friend who writes for me.
CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT A SPECIAL HIGHLIGHT OF YOUR CAREER AS A MUSICIAN?
There are a couple of highlights that particularly stand out. One has to be the Youth Makes Music Gospel Arts concert at the Royal Albert Hall when I played solos alongside the staff band. The other highlight was the 2012 Olympics. The LSO had contributed background music and I had the opportunity to play at the opening and closing of the Paralympics – it felt just like another gig at the time, but now I realise it was something that will never happen like that again.
WHAT INTERESTS DO YOU HAVE?
I’m an Arsenal [Arsenal Football Club, Halloway, London] fan, I play golf and I try to keep fit by running.
WHO HAS HAD A SIGNIFICANT INFLUENCE ON YOUR LIFE?
My dad – not just musically – but as a man. Others include Paul Beniston and Wynton Marsalis. Paul or ‘Benny’ is first trumpet in the London Philharmonic Orchestra and has a Salvation Army background. He helped me understand the profession but above all we just had a great teacher/pupil relationship. With Wynton Marsalis – well he was someone I idolised as a kid and to meet the man, who was so warm towards me, was fantastic. It was great to meet a hero who’s such a gentleman as well!
HOW DO YOU SEE THE FUTURE OF SALVATION ARMY MUSIC?
Having been at TYB [Territorial Youth Band] and TYC [Territorial Youth Chorus] in February, I felt extremely excited by the people and their talent. I was part of the staff team, but I started out as one of the students and haven’t missed a year yet. If you haven’t been there, you need to get down to the festival to experience it. I hope this traditional side of Army music will stay.
IS THERE A SONG THAT HAS HELPED YOU?
‘Don’t Doubt Him Now’ – it’s strange, I don’t really know all the words, but the music speaks to me.
WHAT’S YOUR HOPE FOR THE FUTURE?
I’m happy to keep doing what I’m doing. I’ve got the job I enjoy and more of the same would be great. I also want to continue my Salvation Army music ministry.