For the past month, Minnesota Orchestra Principal Trombone R. Douglas Wright has locked himself in his basement learning an early instrument called the sackbut. He's been mastering this ancestor of the trombone for this week's performances of Kalevi Aho's Symphony No. 9 for Trombone and Orchestra.
The Finnish composer's work is unusual for the symphony form in that it has a prominent part for a soloist. It's also a musical, time-traveling drama that shifts between the discordant, energetic modern world and the orderly, certain Baroque time.
As the soloist in the work, Wright faces the difficult task of switching back and forth from the modern trombone to the Renaissance- and Baroque-era sackbut.
In a conversation with Minnesota Public Radio's Brian Newhouse (that includes some sackbutting), Wright says he views Aho's symphony as an argument between the contemporary and the old.