I had a very enjoyable evening getting to play with an orchestra at the newly refurbished Phoenix Symphony Hall and working with the new Music Director of the PSO, Michael Christie! I left work and arrived at the parking garage across from the Bank One Ballpark and did my normal warm-up / maintenance routine from 4:45 PM to 5:15 PM. I had the air on because itâ€™s still really hot in Phoenix, and it was actually not too bad playing in the passenger seat of my car. I headed down to the Hard Rock CafÃ© for dinner and made it back to my car by 6 PM and played for another 15 minutes. Everything felt great and I spent another 10 minutes listening to the beginning of Beethoven 5 with my part just to start falling into the music. I walked from the parking garage to the stage door and was there in plenty of time to check in. There were so many people that turned out for the 1st Annual â€œPlay-Inâ€ that they divided the orchestra in half (I was placed in both groups so I got to play everything) - the group was made up of players from local symphonies around the valley. Iâ€™ve known about this play-in for about a month (along with the list of what we would be playing) and Iâ€™ve been listening to the music on my drive to and from work every day. I spent time listening to the music with the parts early in the first week so I really knew the parts before I ever sat down to play a note. Talk about a great way to learn music! There were 3 trumpets that showed up and we played on Tchaikovskyâ€™s Romeo and Juliet Overture, Beethoven Symphony No. 5, and the Carmen Suite No. 1 (the orchestra also read Mozart Symphony No. 40). I drew the 1st part for the Tchaik and I was so prepared for this I felt like I was playing a concert. I literally knew the part so well that I was completely at ease with my playing. There was no fumbling for notes or rhythms, no trip-ups with a Trumpet in E part, no missed entrances. It was just literally on autopilot. And it really showed in my playing. I was simply doing what I had been working on for the past 4 weeks and made it sound as easy as knew it should sound. No forcing or uncertainty, just a relaxed approach, a vibrant sound and nicely shaped phrases. I should be so well prepared for every first rehearsal that I attend! I played second on the Beethoven and sat out for the Carmen. But I knew all the parts backwards and forwards, and could have played any part they put in front of me. Michael Christie was very easy to follow, and I really enjoyed getting to see him in action. After the break he asked if anyone wanted to learn how to conduct the opening of the Beethoven, and his description of pulling a rubber band back in time along with some dramatic gestures made the woman that volunteered feel at ease. After she had some success, he invited another person up. This time it was a girl about 10 years old, and she did great! What a feeling for a 10 year old to wield so much power over a big orchestra (about 150 people showed up for the evening). We played the Beethoven again with Michael Christie (1st and 4th movements) and then called it an evening. I was very impressed at the lively sound that we heard in the new hall. I hope the Phoenix audiences will enjoy the newly transformed venue. I will certainly take this experience with me the next time there is an audition at the PSO. It was so much fun to play the principal part over a big orchestra at Symphony Hall and be extremely well prepared and relaxed. Now I know that I can play any part well in that hall. I will definitely draw on those feelings the next time Iâ€™m playing by myself on that same stage! What a great evening!