This review is written by Sebastian Koh

Sebastian Koh‘s first musical instrument was the Euphonium, which he first played as a student in St. Patrick’s School under the military band’s Music Director, David Glosz. He was later introduced to the trombone at age 15 by Brando Tan and has since not looked back. During his National Service, Sebastian was a musician with the Singapore Armed Forces Central Band and was also part of the Fanfare team that performs exclusively for the President of Singapore. His stint with the SAF Central Band also gave him much valuable exposure when he participated with the band in military tattoo displays in India and Malaysia.

After completing his National Service, he returned to the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) from the NAFA-University of Wales programme. While there, he again studied with then Associate Principal Trombone of the Singapore Symphony Orchestra (SSO), Fredi Sonderegger and conducting with Volker Hartung. After college, Sebastian continued to study with SSO’s Bass Trombonist, Shannon Pittaway for a year. He has also performed for Denis Wick and Scott Hartman in masterclasses.

An active and versatile performer, Sebastian has performed in numerous events ranging from operas and musicals to playing solos and big band. Apart from his work as a trombonist, Sebastian currently teaches at Ang Mo Kio Secondary School, Saint Andrew’s Secondary School and Nanyang Girls’ High School.

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Courtois Legend 420

courtois-legend-420-review-2

Sebastian on the Courtois Legend 420 trombone (centre)

Antoine Courtois is a high quality brand for brass instruments that has been in the market since 1789 but is however little known in Singapore.

Recently, I had the opportunity to loan a Antoine Courtois “Legend” 420 Trombone with yellow brass and standard rotary valves to perform for different settings; wind band, brass band, orchestra and rock band. Shortly after my first rehearsal with the Lion City Brass Band, I asked for a loan extension till the concert was over so that I can evaluate the instrument for a review.

The horn produces a homogeneous and centered sound. What I liked about it was how free-blowing it was and how I can play really soft without losing the presence of the sound.

In the brass band setup, we tend to have an extreme dynamic range. If we discuss dynamics in scientific terms (decibels) we are essentially putting a number to how loud or soft one is playing (10dB here and 1000dB there – perhaps not intended).

Dynamics should be about tone colour and when I am selecting a trombone, I want to hear if I can achieve that with ease.

When a challenging work like Paul Lovett Coopers’s “Fire in The Blood” requires a certain level of technicality from the player in the vibrant and energetic climax, a monumental effort is necessary but on the less extreme. The Courtois “Legend” 420 trombone performed particularly well in this aspect and it is very comfortable to be playing the notes from the higher register.

Articulation is another key factor when I am selecting a trombone. A clear articulation lies with the player, but a good instrument can amplify its clarity and character. During my regular use of the trombone, I felt a significant difference with the Courtois as compared to other instruments that I have used.

Courtois Legend 420 Trombone

Courtois Legend 420 Trombone

The only part that the instrument did not perform very well on was the slide. The trombone has a light slide with nickel-silver inner slide and solid silver lead-pipe, but some reason I could not get it to my preferred level of slickness. Perhaps a different slide oil will help but I did not feel it was right for me to open the brand new slide cream that came with the instrument! The slide was a little sticky at times; still good but not great.

Overall I had a very pleasant experience playing on the Antoine Courtois Legend 420 and had received positive comments from colleagues and peers who heard me play on it for an extended period of time.

Having said all these, buying an instrument is an investment. In order to reap the benefits of your investment, it is important to remember that 99% of the efforts will need to come from your understanding and practice of your instrument.

I wish you all the very best and happy practicing!

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The Antoine Courtois company, founded in Paris in 1789, is a renowned manufacturer of brass musical instruments. The company’s name comes from the name of the founder’s children who created the brand name in 1803. The company has been a leading manufacturer of brass instruments ever since, particularly trumpet, cornet, saxhorn, flugelhorn and trombone. Today, Antoine Courtois is one of the brand names of Buffet Crampon Group, headed by Antoine Beaussant.

Antoine Courtois trombones are available from The Band World.