No sooner had DUO BRUBECK finished its premiere at Kendall’s Arts & Letters Day Festival last Spring, when we had been invited back to launch the following years festival-this is the result.
Both Guitar Masters Lippincott and Farber are on hand for a chill to sizzle evening of standards and originals, all done up in the inimitable fashion of “Miami’s Own”-Duo Brubeck. Tracks are listed below. Enjoy!
Featuring Tom Lippincott
And I Love Her
arr. T Lippincott
So Danca A Train
arr. D Wm Brubeck
She’s Leaving Home
arr. T Lippincott
Star Sapngled Banner
By J S Smith
arr. D Wm Brubeck
by W A Mozart
arr D Wm Brubeck
Yes, Jesus Loves Me
by A B Warner
arr D Wm Brubeck
I Dream of Miami Beach
by D Wm Brubeck
arr D Wm Brubeck
Featuring Mitch Farber
arr D Wm Brubeck
You Are My Sunshine
arr. D Wm Brubeck
Old Devil Moon
arr D Wm Brubeck
Stereogram No. 6
by D Wm Brubeck
arr. M Farber
Go Tell Aunt Rhody
arr D Wm Brubeck
arr D Wm Brubeck
by G Gershwin
arr D Wm Brubeck
c. 2016 David William Brubeck All Rights Reserved www.davidbrubeck.com
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Perhaps, as Principal Trombonist with the National or Chautauqua Symphony Orchestras. Perhaps, as a soloist with the Eastman Brass Quintet or the United States Navy Band, or in dozens of appearances at the Eastern Trombone Workshop and International Trombone Festival-for both of which he served as a founding member. You may have seen Marcellus’ name on a journal article by-line, as an arrangers credit, or even on a mouthpiece.
It is even more likely that you have heard the results of his expertise and teaching on the trombone in the New York Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Cleveland Symphony, National Symphony Orchestra, National Philharmonic Orchestra, Seattle Symphony Orchestra, Jacksonville Symphony, Florida Symphony Orchestra, Florida Philharmonic, Naples Philharmonic Orchestra, Toledo Symphony, San Antonio Symphony, San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, Tulsa Philharmonic, Welsh National Radio Orchestra, La Scala Opera Orchestra, Helsingborg Symphony, Stockholm Philharmonic, Bournemouth Symphony, Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Dortmund Opera Orchestra, Rochester Philharmonic, the military bands of West Point, U.S. Marine Band, U.S. Naval Academy, U.S. Navy Band, U.S. Air Force Band, U.S. Army Band, U.S. Army Field Band and the professional ensembles of the River City Brass Band, Brass Band of Battle Creek, Woody Herman Band, Buddy Rich Band, and the Glen Miller Orchestra.
Marcellus brings to bear not only his great experience studying and playing the trombone, but also the lineage of his teachers-William Cramer and Lewis van Haney and the tremendous trombone teaching tradition of the Eastman School of Music and his predecessors-Emory Remington and Donald Knaub. “1385” tm is delighted to present John Marcellus as the second installment of interviews with some of the finest musicians in the world who happen to play tenor trombone. Enjoy!
1. How important was the vocal direction for the trombone, which seems to have been established in the United States by Rochut and Remington?
THEIR INFLUENCE WAS VERY IMPORTANT FOR THE “SINGING TROMBONE” CONCEPT. JOHANNES ROCHUT PUBLISHED IN 1928 THE “MELODIOUS ETUDES BY MARCO BORDOGNI” BOOKS 1-3, AND EMORY REMINGTON (1891-1971) STARTED TEACHING AT THE EASTMAN SCHOOL OF MUSIC IN 1922.
AMONGST OTHER PERFORMING TROMBONISTS IN THE LATE 19TH AND EARLY 20TH CENTURY IN THE CLASSICAL STYLE, THERE WAS ARTHUR PRYOR AND CHARLES E. STACY. PRYOR, COMPOSER OF MANY SOLO PIECES, WAS THE MOST RECORDED TROMBONIST DURING THIS PERIOD AND STACY IS THE ONE THAT CODIFIED IN 1908 THE TECHNICAL ASPECTS OF THIS PERIOD, BASED ON LIP SLURS, IN HIS THREE BOOKS PUBLISHED BY DITSON OF BOSTON IN 1908 WHEN REMINGTON WAS 17 YEARS OLD!
IT’S NO DOUBT THAT THESE TWO (ROCHUT AND REMINGTON), INFLUENCED A “SINGING” APPROACH TO THE TROMBONE, WHICH HAD ALREADY BEEN ESTABLISHED IN EUROPE IN THE EARLY 1900’s, IN THE SOLO PIECES FOR TROMBONE AND PIANO OF THE PARIS CONSERVATORY AND IN OTHER COUNTRIES SUCH AS RUSSIA, ENGLAND, GERMANY AND ITALY. REMINGTON WAS ALSO INFLUENCED BY HIS STUDIES WITH GARDELL SIMONS OF THE PHILADELPHIA ORCHESTRA BETWEEN 1915 AND 1922.
HOWEVER, IN THE JAZZ FIELD IN 1922, MIFF MOLE, A MEMBER OF THE ORIGINAL MEMPHIS FIVE AND LATER WITH TOSCANINI AS 1ST TROMBONE IN THE NBC ORCHESTRA, WAS PERFORMING IN A CLEANER, SMOOTHER AND MORE TECHNICAL STYLE THAN THE EARLIER JAZZ TROMBONISTS. TOMMY DORSEY COMES ALONG LATER IN 1925 AND PERFORMS WITH THE CALIFORNIA RAMBLERS AND IN 1927 HE JOINED THE PAUL WHITEMAN ORCHESTRA, AFTER WHICH HE WAS KNOWN AS THE “SENTIMENTAL GENTLEMAN”. IT’S NO DOUBT THAT THESE TWO PERFORMERS ALSO INFLUENCED THIS “SINGING STYLE” THAT REMINGTON FELT WAS VERY IMPORTANT, AS WELL AS ROCHUT WITH HIS PUBLICATION OF “MELODIOUS ETUDES OF MARCO BORDOGNI.”
2. Please talk about your concept of creating wind turbulence with articulation. Which elements outside of the tongue itself act upon articulation the most.MY TEACHER, WILLIAM F. CRAMER, FROM FLORIDA STATE UNIVERSITY, USED THE PHRASE “BLOW FREELY” ON MANY OCCASIONS AND HIS APPROACH TO BLOWING WAS TO USE NO TONGUE ON THE INITIAL ATTACK AFTER A BREATH TO ESTABLISH AIR FLOW.
WITH THIS CONCEPT, THERE IS A FULL RESONANT SOUND ON THE FIRST NOTE FOLLOWED BY BLOWING AIR FAST ENOUGH TO MAINTAIN A FULL SOUND ON THE REST OF THE MUSICAL PHRASE. IN THIS CASE, THE AIRFLOW HAS TO BE FAST ENOUGH TO ACTIVATE THE LIPS.
IF YOU PERFORM ON THE MOUTHPIECE THIS IS MOST OBVIOUS WHEN THE VIBRATION OF THE LIPS DO NOT HAPPEN BECAUSE THE SPEED OF THE AIR FLOW IS NOT FAST ENOUGH.
FOR EXAMPLE: BLOW A SMALL STREAM OF AIR INTO THE MOUTHPIECE, GRADUALLY INCREASE THE VELOCITY (FASTER SPEED) UNTIL THE LIPS ARE ACTIVATED. YOU WILL ALSO NOTICE THE CORNERS OF THE EMBOUCHURE WILL AUTOMATICALLY BECOME FIRM IN ORDER FOR THE LIPS TO BE ACTIVATED INTO A BUZZED PITCH.
SOME TEACHERS ADVOCATE FIRM YOUR CORNERS FIRST, THEN BLOW. WITH THE USE OF “NO ATTACK” THIS FIRM SETTING IS REACHED THE INSTANT YOUR AIR FLOW IS FAST ENOUGH.
TO PROCEED TO ARTICULATION OR THE “ATTACK” (IT’S ACTUALLY A RELEASE NOT AN ATTACK), THE USE OF VARYING PRESSURES OF THE TONGUE AGAINST THE TEETH AND HARD PALLET IS NECESSARY TO DEVELOP CONSISTENCY IN ALL RANGES OF THE INITIAL ATTACK.
THE MID-REGISTER REQUIRES A DEFINED “TAH” ATTACK AND CAN VARY FROM “DAH” TO “TAH” WITH NOT A GREAT DEAL OF TONGUE PRESSURE APPLIED TO THE UPPER TEETH AND HARD PALLET. THE UPPER REGISTER REQUIRES MORE TONGUE PRESSURE AND THE USE OF THE “TEE” SYLLABLE WHICH HELPS TO ARCH THE TONGUE FOR THE UPPER REGISTER.
1) PRACTICE ON ONE TONE FIRST IN THE MID REGISTER, THEN EXPANDING TO 9 NOTES WITH THE SAME “TAH” OR “TEE” SYLLABLES. REMINGTON CALLED THIS “TONGUING ON A LINE”.
2) NEXT, START WITH THREE NOTES OF THE OVERTONE SERIES IN ONE POSITION UPWARDS AND DOWNWARDS… THEN ADD 4 NOTES, THEN 5, THEN 6-9 NOTES IN ONE POSITION. NOTES ABOVE D, ABOVE THE BASS CLEF STAFF SHOULD START WITH THE SYLLABLE “TEE” NOT “TAH.”
REMEMBER TO NOT STOP THE AIR WITH YOUR TONGUE AT THE END OF ANY TONE. THE DAYLIGHT BETWEEN NOTES IS MOST ADVANTAGEOUS AND TO DEVELOP A SHORT BURST OF AIR FOR VERY SHORT NOTES, USE THE ARBAN APPROACH…. THINK OF SPITTING A SEED OFF THE LIPS WITH THE TONGUE…THIS BURST OF AIR NEEDS TO BE DUPLICATED WITH THE USE OF THE TONGUE AGAINST THE TEETH AND HARD PALLET TO RELEASE A BURST OF AIR TO THE LIPS.
3. What kinds of qualities have you noticed in successful second trombone players in a symphonic setting?
FLEXIBILITY IN ALL AREAS OF PERFORMANCE ARE REQUIRED SUCH AS INTONATION (PROBABLY MOST CRITICAL AND THE ABILITY TO HEAR OTHERS AS YOU PERFORM), BALANCE, RHYTHM, CONGENIALITY, AND THE ABILITY TO COUNT WHEN THE 1ST TROMBONIST DOESN’T!
4. How were you able to balance jazz and classical playing at such high levels? Were the perceptions of peers a challenge?
BALANCING JAZZ AND CLASSICAL PERFORMANCE REQUIRES A DISCIPLINE OF EACH STYLE AND TO DIFFERENTIATE BETWEEN THOSE TWO STYLES OF MUSIC WHEN PERFORMING. THE MAIN DIFFERENCE LIES IN ARTICULATION AND SWING RHYTHMS IN REGARD TO JAZZ, I.E. TO READ A DOTTED EIGHTH NOTE FOLLOWED BY A SIXTEENTH NOTE AND PERFORM IT AS IF YOU ARE IN A 12/8 RHYTHM. THE FREEDOM AND RELAXATION THAT JAZZ INHERENTLY GIVES TO MUSIC IS A GOOD GOAL TO ALSO USE IN CLASSICAL STYLES. THERE ARE TIMES YOU HAVE TO PERFORM IN BOTH STYLES SIMULTANEOUSLY AS IN “BOLERO” WITHOUT A JAZZ SWING TO IT!
5. Describe your involvement with King trombones,and Benge in particular.
THE BENGE 190 AND 190F WAS INTRODUCED IN 1985. I DID NOT DESIGN THE INSTRUMENTS, BUT DID EXPERIMENT WITH 17 LEAD PIPES TO PICK OUT THE “M” PIPE FOR THE BENGE 190.
KING ALSO DESIGNED THE “MARCELLUS MOUTHPIECE” DUPLICATED (BUT SMALLER) FROM THE VAN HANEY MODEL MADE BY GIARDINELLI MOUTHPIECES IN THE 1960’S. BY THE WAY, THE CONN REMINGTON MOUTHPIECE WAS DESIGNED FROM THE SAME KRUSPE MOUTHPIECE THAT LEWIS VAN HANEY USED TO CREATE THE VAN HANEY MODEL MANUFACTURED BY GIARDINELLI!
I BELIEVE THE KING 2B AND 3B WILL ALWAYS BE AROUND AS CLASSIC TROMBONE MODELS!
6. When you think of the four or five greatest symphonic trombone sections, who comes to mind? Jazz or studio?
OF COURSE GORDON PULIS, LEWIS VAN HANEY AND ALAN OSTRANDER OF THE NEW YORK PHILHARMONIC IN THE 1950’S IS THE CLASSIC WHILE LONDON SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA WAS AN IMITATION OF THE CONN SOUND IN THE 1950’S. SINCE THEN, THE TRADITIONS OF VIENNA, BERLIN, CHICAGO, LOS ANGLES, BOSTON SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA AND THE METROPOLITAN OPERA ORCHESTRA ARE SOME OF MY FAVORITE TROMBONE SECTIONS INCLUDING THE PRESENT DAY SECTIONS. IN THE STUDIO ORCHESTRAS OF LOS ANGELES OF COURSE ARE DICK NASH, LLOYD ULYLATE, AND GEORGE ROBERTS AMONG OTHERS THAT STAND OUT WITH THEIR STYLE.
7. How did your double bell come about? What are it’s specifications and best uses.
I GREW UP PERFORMING ON A CONN DOUBLE BELL EUPHONIUM SO THE “MARCELLA BONE” IS AN OUTGROWTH OF THAT INFLUENCE. IT’S SPECIFICATIONS ARE A TRUMPET BELL ADAPTED TO FIT INTO THE “F”ATTACHMENT, SO WHEN THE VALVE IS DEPRESSED, THE SOUND COMES OUT OF THE SMALL BELL. I WAS GIVING A DEMONSTRATION IN KANSAS CITY FOR THE KING COMPANY AND PERFORMED WITH THE “F” ATTACHMENT PULLED OUT OF THE TROMBONE TO DEMONSTRATE A DIFFERENT SOUND WITHOUT THE BELL. THE KING REP SAID TO ME, “WE HAVE TO GET YOU A BELL FOR THAT DEMONSTRATON.” WE PROCEEDED TO A LOCAL MUSIC REPAIR SHOP AND THEY CONSTRUCTED THE BELL TO FIT INTO THE “F” ATTACHMENT ON THE BENGE 190F. I USE IT PRIMARILY FOR ECHO EFFECTS WITH VARIOUS TRUMPET MUTES AND OTHER EFFECTS ON MY COURTOIS, 440 LEGEND SERIES.
Marcella Bone With Watrous, Roberts and Marcellus www.davidbrubeck.com
8. How important of a musical outlet was the Eastman Brass Quintet? Any memorable moments on or off the stage? WHEN I JOINED THE EASTMAN BRASS IN 1978, IT WAS A TRIO WITH VERNE REYNOLDS- HORN, CHERRY BEAUREGARDE-TUBA AND MYSELF. I HAD EXPECTED TO JOIN THE QUINTET, BUT THAT DIDN’T HAPPEN UNTIL THE APPOINTMENT OF BARBARA BUTLER AND CHARLES GEYER IN 1980 AS TRUMPET PROFESSORS. MY MAIN OUTLET OF PERFORMANCE BEGAN WITH SOLO RECITALS AND MASTER CLASS/RECITALS IN THE U.S. AND THE CHAUTAUQUA SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA, WHICH I JOINED IN THE SUMMER OF 1979, AS PRINCIPAL TROMBONE. OUR CONCERTS WITH THE EASTMAN BRASS BEGAN IN 1980 WITH NEW MANAGEMENT AND THIS MUSICAL PERFORMING OUTLET WAS VERY IMPORTANT TO ME SINCE I WAS ONLY IN MY EARLY 40’S.
THERE IS ONE MOMENT, ON STAGE, THAT STANDS OUT. IN 1990, DON HARRY HAD SUCCEEDED CHERRY BEAUREGARDE AS THE TUBIST IN THE EBQ. IT WAS ON HIS 1ST ENGAGEMENT WITH THE EASTMAN BRASS IN HILTON HEAD, S.C.
DON CAME ON STAGE LAST-SINCE WE CAME OUT IN ORDER OF TRUMPETS, HORN, TROMBONE AND TUBA LAST.
IN THE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH IN HILTON HEAD, THERE WAS A STEP UP ONTO THE STAGE. DON IMMEDIATELY TRIPPED ON AND FELL FLAT ON HIS FACE! WHAT A PREMIERE PERFORMANCE WITH THE EASTMAN BRASS FOR DON!! VERY MEMORABLE, AND HE WAS LUCKY THAT HE WASN’T HURT OR SUSTAINED ANY DAMAGE TO HIS TUBA IN THE FALL.
ONE OF THE MUSICAL HIGHLIGHTS, OF MANY WITH THE EASTMAN BRASS, WAS THE PREMIERE PERFORMANCE IN 1983 OF THE “GERSHWIN VARIATIONS” BY RAYBURN WRIGHT FOR THE EASTMAN BRASS QUINTET AND THE ROCHESTER PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA. RAY WAS THE FOUNDER OF JAZZ STUDIES AT EASTMAN AND THE “GERSHWIN VARIATIONS” WAS COMMISSIONED BY THE EASTMAN BRASS. IT IS A VERY CHALLENGING PIECE, TO SAY THE LEAST, IN A MIXTURE OF CLASSICAL AND JAZZ STYLES.
9. With the advances in technique and range for younger players, do you see any setbacks perhaps in tone color, or feel? WHEN ONE CONSIDERS DICK NASH AND CHRISTIAN LINDBERG, AND THEIR TECHNIQUE AND RANGE ON THE TROMBONE, IT IS DIFFICULT TO SAY THERE HAS BEEN AN ADVANCE IN TECHNIQUE AND RANGE OF YOUNGER PLAYERS.
TONE COLOR, ABOVE ALL, IS UNIQUE TO EVERY INDIVIDUAL AND IT IS MOST IMPORTANT FOR ANY YOUNGER PLAYER TO EMULATE THE GREAT PLAYERS WHERE THEIR TONE IS CLEAR AS A BELL (WITH NO GARBAGE AROUND THEIR SOUND!!) SOME YOUNGER PLAYERS MAY SACRIFICE THEIR TONE COLOR FOR SPEED AND/OR FEEL AND WE ALL LOOK FORWARD TO THE NEXT GENERATION OF TROMBONISTS. AFTER ALL, ITS ONLY BEEN WELL OVER FIVE CENTURIES OF PROGRESS OF A GREAT TRADITION OF “TROMBONERY.”
c. 2016 David William Brubeck All Rights Reserved www.davidbrubeck.com
Images courtesy of John Marcellus
After performing the New York premiere of the Edward Kleinhammer Sonata in recital at the Manhattan School of Music in November of 2015 with pianist Hanako Yamagata, bass trombone virtuoso Steve Norrell has been invited to encore the sonata at the 2016 Festival of the International Trombone Association. The Norrell/Yamagata collaboration is planned to be held at Juilliard, on Friday the tenth of June, 2016, as part of the international festival’s emphasis on trombone solo artists.
The new sonata, which was written by composer John Stevens, is dedicated to one of the finest orchestral bass trombonists and brass pedagogues of the past hundred years-Edward Kleinhammer. Published by Potenza Music, the Stevens composition combines an intimate knowledge of the capabilities of the bass trombone (which the eponymous Kleinhammer did so much to define), along with expressive lyrical settings, a wide range of timbrel colors, and distinctly virtuosic passages combined with a hypnotic piano accompaniment.
Norrell will showcase the work again on Thursday, July 21st, at 8pm at the Grand Teton’s Music Festival in Walk Hall, with pianist Jason Hardink. This select recital series normally features either the music director, the festival’s featured soloists, or select string groups. Rarely is a brass player invited to perform, and this is believed to be the first time, in the festival’s 55 year history, for the series to feature a sonata for bass trombone.
By our special request, davidbrubeck.com is honored to offer the exclusive published offering of the presentation of the premiere New York performance by bass trombonist Steve Norrell and pianist Hanako Yamagata, via drop box-enjoy!
“Thanks so much for sending along this wonderful performance video! Nice for
me to be able to see as well as hear it performed so well. Glad to hear it
was well received.
Please share my thanks and congratulations with your
pianist for performing her collaborative role with such great energy
thoughtfulness and care. I don’t always hear that form the pianists playing
my music, and it is much appreciated indeed.
It is very special to me to see and hear a performance of this work by someone
who I have known and admired for so long.”
John D. Stevens, composer
c. 2016 David William Brubeck All Rights Reserved www.davidbrubeck.com
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Jason Sulliman is a bass trombonist with a passion and a purpose. Original cast memebr for BLAST!, and now its conductor and manager, Jason has explored symphonic and commercial music with aplomb and sought to integrate his personal experiences as a performer with his passion for helping others through education. Along the way, kinesiology just sort of “happened”, and has become a growing area of fascination and expertise. Stretch out and relax, as Jason Sulliman works out all of “Seven Positions” tm. Enjoy!
1. What drew you to kinesiology (motor learning/motor control), and who have been your mentors?
I first learned about kinesiology after I re-joined with Blast in 2005. The job was very demanding physically and mentally, and I worked extremely hard to condition myself for the rigor. I was amazed at the effect this had on my playing (both mentally and physically) so when I returned to grad school at the University of New Mexico, I sought out people to learn more. I connected with Dr. Mary Virginia Wilmerding who is on faculty at UNM for exercise science and dance. She introduced me to kinesiology and I was hooked. I found myself running over to other buildings sitting in on biology classes, exercise physiology classes, and I enrolled in a few classes such as motor learning and kinesiology for dance majors (that Dr. Wilmerding taught herself). Every day was filled with new discoveries.
When I applied for doctoral studies, I applied at schools for both music (DM) and kinesiology (MS) (as if I was two separate people). I continued graduate studies at Indiana University in the master’s program for kinesiology.
2. If movements are like fingerprints, and each is different everytime; can there be any constants in trombone technique?
This is a difficult question to answer in that the product and the process to get there have different spins on the same answer, and to many this will sound like an academic quibble of semantics, but I disagree. I find the whole concept fascinating.
Technically I don’t think any two sounds made in the natural world are identical. Movements are all different (even if it is so slight that it is unperceivable to the human ear) and thus their fingerprints in sound are unique. Musicians will usually get to a point where for all practical purposes, a consistent sound is heard because the nuances are so minute that they aren’t significant in terms of job performance, etc. For that part of the conversation, I do think one can approach playing with a consistent mindset and achieve consistent results, but only if we use the terms loosely. I don’t think there’s any real harm in talking about a consistent product as long as we agree it is a matter of scaling.
I think the word ‘consistent’ can be dangerous though, when talking about the process. If we get so wrapped up in trying to manipulate our bodies the same exact way every time, we might actually be hindering our bodies’ natural ability to adapt to the current environmental parameters and take aim at that ‘consistent’ goal from a slightly different vantage point. Your body’s components must function from their current state, and to interfere with our natural ability to function might limit the freedom of adaptability. The only ‘consistent’ thing about my playing is I am constantly trying to be better than yesterday. I think the whole concept of ‘consistent’ sets limitations and throws our focus off of the real goal.
3. Who do consider the most influential brass pedagogues-both personally and globally?
As teachers, we have all experienced telling a student ‘exactly’ what they needed to hear, but for some reason they weren’t ready to really hear it in a meaningful way. The next thing you know they had a lesson with another teacher or attended a master class etc. and heard the same exact thing, and react as if it was something that they never heard before.
Names surface to the top of a short list: Arnold Jacobs, Emory Remington, Joe Alessi, and Carmine Caruso, but if the art matters more than the people that create it, than we have to remember that anyone can make a breakthrough happen for anyone else and it is those breakthroughs that matter most. Therefore the list of influential brass pedagogues is massive, as it should be.
My personal breakthroughs were with Darcy Davis, David Sporny, Karl Hinterbichler and
4. How do you view the re-affirmation of many of the teachings of Arnold Jacobs in light of cognitive theories?
In a word: accurate. The more I study, the more I find that Arnold Jacob’s work lines up with emergent cognitive theories of today. Sadly, it is not that he was so far ahead, it is that we are so far behind. He stayed with the curve.
5. What has Blast! meant to you?
In one way, Blast! Has meant the opportunity to ‘stay in the game’ of trying to improve and become a musician. I started significantly later than most ‘successful’ musicians and I spent most of my college years playing catch-up. I will probably always feel that way. I am forever grateful for the time, the experiences, the friendships etc. that I have gained from that chapter in my life. In a much larger way, Blast! Was an amazing opportunity to reach audiences in ways that ‘sit-down’ performance can’t. Blast! Is usually compared to marching band, but I think it was so much more than that, and I am thankful to be a part of it.
6. What do you look for in a horn?
I want something unique. I know many folks out there want ‘an orchestral’ sound and try to blend in with what is winning the jobs etc., but I want to bring something unique to the table. Frankly I don’t want to sound like everyone else. I want to sound like me. I think if I do that well enough, someone will want to buy that.
The two most common directions people go when deciding on equipment is either a horn that helps one’s weaknesses, or a horn and amplifies one’s strengths. I can see merit in either case. For me I want vibrancy in the sound. Like a complex Belgian Tripel, I want complexity in the sound. I feel like then I can do so many things with it. There was a time when I gravitated towards equipment that sounded louder or was easier in the high register, but I have since gravitated more towards what I call ‘home’. I recently purchased an M & W and it should be arriving soon. I am really excited about the possibilities.
7. How do your studies movement influence your approach to slide motion?
My slide movement needs a ton of work, mainly because I am still searching for the best set-up in the left hand to hold the horn. I think this matters with bass in particular. It is a heavier horn, and if your left hand doesn’t feel comfortable supporting the instrument for long periods of time, then it will start shifting in a way that eases the discomfort. When that happens the right hand will naturally make compensating adjustments with how it helps to support the weight of the instrument, which will change the slide technique.
Having said that, I try to hold the slide with my fingertips. After that, I really try to ignore the physical characteristics and focus solely on the sound that is created when changing notes. If you are really listening, you can hear a difference between effective slide technique and ineffective slide technique on all sorts of levels. This goes back to ‘no two movements are alike’. I challenge you to find two trombonists that do it the same exact way. I guarantee if we hook them up to measurement equipment (like EEG), we will find differences.
I remember watching the National Brass Ensemble concert in Chicago last year. Some of the Gabrieli pieces were set up with two choirs, so their angles were such that I got a great look at slide work. There were times where I saw some of the most accomplished trombonists playing unison lines right next to each other. Slightly different hand positions, different speeds, but wonderful results. I could only tell a difference visually.
8. How do you foresee the future of the trombone in drum corps?
I really haven’t thought about it.
9. What is your secret to legato?
Legato is my default warm-up articulation of choice these days, as it has been for several years, because the longer and more-connected two sounds are, the less you can hide “junk” in-between them. I spend a disproportionate amount of time on legato, and would say the other big factor is I have recorded myself and others a ton. I have developed some skills with audio-editing over the years, and I would go into the sound files and cut-out transitional space between the notes of my playing and others. I would then create call-and-response tracks with this “super-connected’ version of playing and I would use it as the model for my current playing.
I never could get rid of the transitional sound completely, but I realized that shouldn’t be the goal. Rather than thinking about continuous air, I try to think about continuous sound, and the transitional moments in between notes has its own sound. I let that sound thrive now (albeit in a very short time-span). So the ‘continuous sound’ is really three different sounds (first note, transitional sound, next note). All three need to be beautiful.
Obviously there are two issues with legato- first the tonguing thing, and then the sliding thing. But I feel like I touched on the slide already.
10. How do you teach performance blocking and movement in order to least disrupt or provide a deleterious effect on brass technique?
There will be a trade-off. We will always sound better when not simultaneously engaged in gross motor movements (like marching for example). I say it that way because we are in constant motion on a fine motor level, and I encourage that type of movement. I play on a wobble board almost exclusively in the practice room so my body is free to move as it needs. But for things like marching, there will be trade-offs.
That being said, certain aspects of movement technique will sound better while others will look better. In many ways it is a game of ‘slight-of-hand’ that we play with the audience. I think many marching bands spend way too much time refining the engagement of the knee vs. straight-leg for example. I just find it funny when the same band will then have kids rolling their shoulders forward and taking small breaths, not rolling their toes to smooth out their landing, etc. Their feet will be out of time anyways, who cares how their knees are!?!?!
Let’s get everyone’s feet in time and on the downbeats. Let’s get everyone standing with an elongated spine so they can take a good breath, etc. I try to put my eggs in the basket of sounding good, looking good, and being efficient with our time. I think it is impressive when a band has a real level of detail to their uniformity, but most high school bands spend too much resource focusing on aspects of marching technique that are too expensive (too much time to clean it, not enough pay-off). I think 30 minutes of good stretching and body movement followed by 30 minutes of marching technique is far better than 5 minutes of poor stretching and 55 minutes of marching technique. Sadly, the latter is what most programs do.
11. What are your musical inspirations?
I will always have a soft spot for the work of the Tallis Scholars, the Chicago Symphony, the German Brass, Fleetwood Mac, the Cleveland Orchestra, Bela Fleck (both solo and with the Flecktones), Bruce Hornsby, the Vanguard Orchestra, J.J. Johnson, the Kings Singers, Louis Armstrong, Eminem, Tim O’Brien, David Wilcox. Specific to bass trombone I would say Randy Hawes, Jim Markey, and Stefan Schulz.
I am a sucker for so many stories of people overcoming adversity. Underdogs. I think we can all relate in some way to an underdog. When you are one person out of a hundred auditioning for a job, it is simple math. The odds are not in our favor if you just look at the simple math.
I have found quite a bit of inspiration from many movies based on a true story such as “Rudy”, “The King’s Speech”, “The Imitation Game”, “Invictus”, as well as other amazing life accounts of people such as Mother Teresa and Gandhi. I think they all share the theme in that at one point there was an overwhelming impression that their ideas and actions made them a ‘minority of one’ and yet they pressed on if for no other reason than they felt it was right- it was what they believed. It was the only way to be true to themselves. I am constantly inspired by others and they fuel me to just keep moving in a direction that is right for me.
c. 2016 David William Brubeck All Rights Reserved www.davidbrubeck.com
In the world of drum corps, BLAST! is legend. Blast, along with EPCOT’s Future Corps, is one of but two drum corps to transition into a professional ensemble. The championship drum corps BLAST, formerly known as Star of Indiana, began their journey in 1998, and by 1999 met with sold out runs at London Apollo, Hammersmith. In 2001, Blast stormed Broadway, where they have won both a Tony and an Emmy. International tours have followed, and the feverish following has remained fresh amidst an ever-changing show. davidbrubeck.com is pleased to call upon on Guillermo Ramirez to share his experiences in Blast
1. What have you learned about music and brass playing from touring with BLAST?
I’ve learned to tell a musical story. Not only through dynamics, style and expression, but also through my eyes, and the way I move to the music.
2. What is the group’s typical instrumentation, and how important has doubling been to you?
The current touring group is made up of 6 percussionists, 5 trombones, 2 euphoniums, 2 tubas, 2 French horns, and 7 trumpets. Doubling on multiple instruments has been extremely important because it has opened more performance opportunities for me. Currently, I am playing trombone, marching baritone, marching snare drum, concert and world percussion.
3. How do you approach flipping from classical styles to jazz?
We rehearse, and train ourselves to simply “flip the switch”, we do a lot of singing and can really hear the styles that we are going for. Also, everything is exaggerated; articulations, dynamics, etc.
4. What are your best memories from tours?
Best memories? That’s tough! It would have to be getting to perform in a packed hall just about every night and all the free time we had as a cast to hang out together!
c. 2015 David William Brubeck All Rights Reserved. davidbrubeck.com
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New stuff you haven’t heard before, from DUO BRUBECK or anyone else!
Sizzling standards include brand new jazz arrangements of Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition” and Antonio Carlos Jobim’s “How Insensitive” alongside the music of the Beatles, Ellington and Jule Styne.
Simmering originals include Brubeck’s dreamy homage to Jackie Gleason “I Dream of Miami Beach” and the entrancing “I Didn’t Love You Girl”. Each features the vocal infusions of Kat Reinhert and Maria Pinagel.
Smoking guitar virtuosos Tom Lippincott and Mitch Farber will make you want to move, as Brubeck’s spicy-cool bass trombone fans the groove.
A new concert feature includes evocative “jazz puzzlers. As Duo Brubeck presents shimmering soulful weaves of sound, audience members are invited to peel back the layers of musical delights to reveal familiar songs in refreshing new settings.
c. 2016 David William Brubeck All Rights Reserved
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Cleveland Orchestra Hornist Richard King, Pittsburgh Symphony tubist Craig Knox, and Hollywood Trumpeter and Film Composer Anthony DiLorenza have been together since their student days at The Curtis Institute of Music where they petitioned the Curtis administration for a brass chamber music group. With the additions of the Buffalo Philharmonic’s Geoffrey Hardcastle on trumpet and the Seattle Symphony’s Ko Ichiro Yamamoto on trombone, they have spun musical gold. After thirty years of individual musical accomplishment and outstanding collective work through recordings and tours, the Center City Brass are a fully matured and sophisticated vintage best caught in season.
On the crisp morning of March 3rd as part of their recent trip to South Florida, the Center City Brass performed a beautiful showcase for the community of Weston Christian Academy, Bobby McCann-principal and Dr. Steve Kitchens-headmaster.
The program included a concert prelude on Fiddler on the Roof, performed by the Miami Dade College Brass-The Romero Brass.
Anthony DiLorenza’s incredibly virtuosic and masterfully composed Nexus & Siren Song astounded and inspired concert goers, and having a trumpet virtuoso and accomplished composer such as DiLorenza at the helm of the group while supplying their compositions was somewhat reminiscent of what it must have been like to hear Haydn lead a string quartet. The virtuosic brass writing abounded, and was beautifully executed by the CCB. Of particular note were the fantastic blend and clarity of the group, and the equally virtuosic writing for all five parts. This was perhaps most starkly evident in the horn and particularly the trombone writing of DiLorenzo.
Habanera was performed next, again by the Romero Brass, which prompted Mr. Knox to pronounce the group “terrific”, and was followed by an ad hoc suite of three pieces from composer Tony Plog by Center City. The CCB responded to enthusiastic questions from the audience, before finishing their recital with arrangements from Bernstein’s West Side Story: Maria & Tonight.
At the conclusion of the event, the entire Center City Brass took the better part of an hour to coach their collegiate counterparts on an Allegro from Ramsoe No. 4. The Romero Brass, coached by MDC Chamber Music Coordinator David Brubeck, had previously been coached by the Boston and Dallas Brass, and newly named Imperial Brass 1st trumpeter Chuck Lazarus. Members include: Jose Romero, Alain Rodriguez and Kevin Thelwell, trumpets; Brandley Gagne, horn; Xavier Puig (not pictured), Danny Delacerda, Guillermo Ramirez, trombones; Javier Ayala bass trombone and Armando Alicandu, euphonium.
c. 2016 David William Brubeck All Rights Reserved
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Dan Perantoni has a habit of being involved with first-rate musical organizations, and one suspects that he just might have something to do with their successes. It may have begun when he started studying tuba with the legendary Paganini of the Tuba-Harvey Phillips. An impressive soloist, Perantoni established a long standing chamber music relationship with the St. Louis Brass Quintet, and was a founding member of Summit Brass. As a teacher, he has graced the University of Illinois, Arizona State, and is currently provost-professor at The Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University. “The Fourth Valve” is delighted to listen as provost professor Perantoni perfectly picks his points. Enjoy!
Fred Marrach, Gerhard Meinl, Perter Hirsbruner Sr.
2. What does it take to have a really happening studio beyond being a great teacher and performer?
Effective recruiting, Communication
3. How do you approach solo tuba differently with regard to classical music and jazz. How do you attract or find audiences most effectively?
Same approach for all- listening and singing.
Building an audience –Years of marketing – name recognition- good products- commissioning good new works- word of mouth.
4. Who are the most interesting young orchestral tubists out there today?
Jeff Anderson, San Francisco; Steve Campbell,
Minnesota—my all time favorite orchestra Pro—Gene Pokorney, Chicago Symphony
5. What do you look for in a Bb, C or Eb tuba?
For all- evenness of good sound and response in all registers- great intonation- quality workmanship.
6. How would you compare the approach to brass quintet of Charles Daellenbach, Arnold Jacobs, and Harvey Phillips?
Harvey Phillips was really the most important person for the future of the Brass Quintet with the founding of the New York Brass Quintet [replacing Julian Menken-bass trombone-ed.]. There were the brass version of the “set”, famous String Quartets. There were hardly any serious music for brass quintet other than Ewald and then the many Robert King arrangements. So NYBQ commissioned numerous new works by serious composers such as Gunther Schuller, Alvan Etler, Eugene Bozza, etc. They were the first to introduce performing for young audiences. They were the first Bras Quintet group to be presented by Columbia Artists. As a result, they did many concerts at Major Universities and concert halls throughout the United States. They were the inspiration for the many groups in the world today.
Arnold Jacobs. The CSO quintet was a spin off of the Chicago Symphony.
They played mostly standard transcriptions and never was never that actice as compared to the New York Brass Quintet.
Charles DaellenbachWith Canadian brass you have a full time Group. Charles took his young audience show and used it for mature audiences-made entertainment part of their show.
Over the years, he commissioned over 250 works!
The group has always kept high standards of performance.
Daellenbach hired gifted composers to do Canadian Brass arrangements-Luther Henderson, Arthur Frackenpol, etc. It helped that the Canadian Government supported them through grants.
7. What do you remember most of your professionals chamber music groups? What made the great ones great?
The Phillip Jones Brass Ensemble was a big influence into David Hickman and the members of the Saint Louis Brass to form the Summit Brass. We put together the best perfumers in the United States and got a record Contract before we had even played our first Concert.
What makes a group great is Great performers, Great arrangements and compositions, and musician who are always part of the team.
8. Baadsvik, Childs, Mead-most full time brass soloists seem to have four valves. What are they doing right that solo trumpeters, hornists, and trombonists are not?
Baadsvik and Childs are supported mostly by funding by their countries. David Childs, in particular, comes from the famous Child Brothers who are today the major conducotrs of the British Brass Bands.
You did have many soloists on trumpet in the past, such as Maurice Andre, and on horn, like Dennis Brain.
9. What are they key ingredients to a great music school at the University? What do IU and your other previous institutions do best?
The University of Illinois
New Music and Music Education
Arizona State University
Indiana University IU is rated the number one school in the country—a major university and conservatory tied into one. It is particularly known for its Opera Department
and its outstanding faculty on every instrument.
c. 2016 David William Brubeck All Rights Reserved. www.davidbrubeck.com
After fourteen years, Trtion released its first cd, “Triton Brass”, which was celebrated with their first performance in New York City. Triton Brass has re-emerged, like a fine wine whose best vintage is yet to come. Re-tooled with bass trombone and a formidable line up, they plan to perform and teach with The Atlantic Brass Quintet at the 22nd annual International Atlantic Brass Quintet Summer Seminar. Former Fischoff and Lyon chamber music competition winners and the brass quintet in residence for five years at Tanglewood, “FIVE” tm is pleased to bring you The Triton Brass…Enjoy!
Shelagh Abate, Horn
1. How does a New York girl end up going to college in Boston? Can you compare performing as a freelancer in New York to Boston?
Oh, man…when I graduated from high school, I could not WAIT to get away from home. Boston was perfect for me at the time as it was “far away” from Long Island without being “far away” 😉 As soon as I got to Boston the first time, I felt the energy and the vibe that all those students in ALL THOSE SCHOOLS (!!) within the city’s limits creates. There’s no city like it. I miss it terribly when I’m away for long periods. Thank god for the quintet, I get to see it on a regular basis and still consider it “kind of” home.
As for freelancing, Boston is an amazing place to study and an amazing place to work…the players are every bit as fierce in Boston as they are anywhere else. The top of the top of the top. Especially brass! I mean, NEC, The Boston Conservatory, BU, Berklee, Harvard, Longy, MIT, the list goes on and on, and there are amazing players at all of these places. The only difference I notice now in NYC, is that I put less miles on my car. When you freelance “in Boston,” unless you hold a major gig (BSO, Ballet, etc.), you’re actually freelancing all over New England. Which is awesome, truly…because, I mean, it’s New England. But it also means 40,000 miles per year on a car. No lie. I went through quite a few cars (and clutches) during my tenure in Boston… 😉
2. You had a double major in English. How has it helped your music career both on the business side
and on the artistic side?
My experiences at Boston College and getting a B.A. in the liberal arts have equipped me with a breadth of perspective and skills that help me through life, no question. I use my writing skills on a regular basis, and the broad perspective I got there enables me to 1. withstand life’s ups and downs better than if I were to have a really limited view on things and 2. provides a greater artistic vocabulary to better express musical ideas through the horn. As soon as I finished my Bachelor’s, I plowed full steam ahead into the horn as a graduate student and a mature adult that had a handle on what I needed to do, how I needed to go about it, and where I wanted it to take me. I may not have known it at the time, but it was the right path for me. There was no way I could have sussed all that out at 18. I was a mess at 18. We’re all a mess at 18, lol. Ok, maybe not all of us, but I definitely needed a little more time to steep.
3. As a horn player, your instrument and the tuba share a conical timbre. The bass trombone presents an evenly matched quartet of cylindrical instruments. How do you change your approach when blending with a tuba-bottomed brass quintet, as opposed to one with bass trombone?
For me, in Triton, having a bass trombone as opposed to a tuba totally establishes a fat, homogeneous, giant bass foundation upon which I can do exactly what I want musically, which is amazing. I can just ride, blend into, push up against, or battle all the sound around me – whatever the music calls for. I love it, it’s freaking awesome. It’s really a giant, warm, musical canvas. When Triton dealt with a personnel change a few years ago, Angel was the logical choice….I don’t think we actually ever even had a conversation about it as a group. It was that easy, and we’ve not looked back since.
Angel Subero, Bass Trombone
What strengths and weaknesses do you see in the US and Venezuelan music education offerings?
This is a very hard question but I will do my best to explain as concisely as I can but this is just my humble opinion on this matter and could (and probably should) be discussed much further in detail.
The three main differences that I notice between Venezuelan (El Sistema) music education and the United States music education are: the funding, the performance opportunities and the importance placed on music in society.
El Sistema is a forty year old, free music program open to the public that is sponsored fully by international institutions and the government. The students are provided with great instruments from the beginning of their studies. It is an after school program and since El Sistema has become such a powerful and successful program, classical music has become very popular. It is now a huge part of the culture in my country. There are a lot of concerts and weekly performances. Even the kids who have been playing for a few weeks perform on the regular basis, sometimes even twice a week. This keeps the kids excited and wanting to get better for the next performance. The better you are, the more opportunities you are allowed. You play with better orchestras, musicians, participate in national and international tours, etc. This is a huge motivation.
Also, all the concerts are sold out. The main stream culture places a huge importance on these events for both the performers and the audience members. They are excited to be there because people know that there is a big chance that even kids who are just starting out could, in a few years, become super stars. I remember Edicson Ruiz, now a bass player in the Berlin Philharmonic, running around and playing soccer every time the youth orchestra had a little break from their rehearsals. I believe he was 7-8 years old at the time. And who would have guessed that he would become the youngest member of the legendary Berlin Phil just a few years later.
From what I can tell, it is very different in the United States. Music programs are part of the school and unfortunately, many of them are poorly funded, if they are funded at all. Instruments are rarely provided by the school and if they are, they are usually in poor condition. The playing opportunities are very limited, with maybe one to two concerts a semester. These are usually also poorly attended because the music is not appreciated by the general public in the United States. This is also true for professional groups as well.
I don’t think is fair to compare because the culture and the way the systems work in these two countries are very different. There are a lot of great benefits about being a musician and studying here in the US. Certainly my success and the career I have, I owe it to my teachers and mentors. And I am very thankful for the schools (Boston Conservatory and New England Conservatory), that gave me the opportunity to experience the structure of being a student in America. Even though I believe there should be changes and more flexibility for every individual case, since we are all different, without this education and structure that comes with it, I would not have had the opportunities that have come my way. Yes, I worked hard but being in the right place at the right time and being ready is the key. You never know when you are going to get “That call”.
Again, this is a fascinating topic and should be discussed much more than this but I feel that this is the best opinion I can give on the matter for now.
2. What are your doubles, and how do you practice switching back and forth?
Tenor Trombone and Contrabass Trombone. I have a very particular daily routine which is all on Bass Trombone. When that is done, I make sure I spend time on tenor. The work I do on tenor is mostly playing lead trombone in Latin bands. When I play these gigs, the physical and mental approach to playing this style of music is a total one eighty of what I do when I play Bass or Contra in any ensemble, especially in the quintet setting. After my routine is done, at some point in the day, I aim to have a session where I practice going back and forth 10-15 minutes on each horn and do that for an hour or two. I love practicing so I enjoy the process. But I should stress the importance of also spending the time to get to know each instrument well on its own before you try and go back and forth too much. Now, according to Facebook I play Harp, Tuba, Double-Bass, Contra Bassoon, English Horn, Bass Flute, Piccolo and Tambourine, also I am a very successful conductor. If it is on Facebook, it must be true.
3. How do you approach articulation in the quintet, especially low and fast?
Well, The beauty of playing in a brass quintet is taking advantage of the variety of articulation and colors the group can have. I’ve always loved playing different styles of music Latin, Jazz, Classical, Funk, etc. When I am playing in the quintet, I experiment using different types of articulation until I find a sound that I feel blends with everyone else in the group. Obviously, listening to and playing different styles of music has influenced my playing. And depending on the difficulty of the passage, sometimes using a combination of double and doodle tongue on a low-fast passage makes it sound more clean and easier. Having all these different colors and articulations in your playing makes practicing and playing much more fun. And sometimes, you just have to practice articulating low and fast.
Andrew Sorg, trumpet
1. As a member of two accomplished brass quintets, both Triton and Atlantic, you are in a unique position. What have you learned from the competitions won with each group.
-I’ve learned that winning a competition is less important than preparing for a competition. Preparing for a competition in a chamber ensemble allows you to get to know your colleagues intimately, and how the dynamic of the group operates as a unit. The marriage of chamber music makes or breaks an ensemble, and a healthy relationship between quintet members is crucial to perform well together. Although winning a competition gives an ensemble credibility to presenters, the preparation defines your repertoire, image and vision for the future.
2. The musician makes the difference, not the instrument, but what types of advantages come with tuba or bass trombone on the bottom of a quintet?
I was first surprised to notice that there is no loss of sound in a quintet that uses tuba verses bass trombone. They are an equivalent entity. The obvious advantage of having a tuba, is it creates a broader aura of group sound that blends great with repertoire like the Dahl Quintet, Ewald Quintets and my composition Voices In Da Fan. On the flip side, the more directional blend the bass trombone creates works really well with repertoire like Plog, Paquito D’Rivera, and my other quintet piece Mental Disorders.
3. What have you enjoyed most about the growth of your chamber music program?
What I’ve enjoyed most about the growth of The Atlantic Brass Quintet Seminar, is sharing an unconditional love for chamber music and passion for education with some of the best chamber musicians and educators in the world. Our team we have grown to call Tritantic, the merger of The Triton and Atlantic Brass Quintets to form a large brass ensemble, has a huge impact on young brass players. The love and dedication we emote, creates a very serious but fun learning environment for students and faculty, which is incredibly rewarding to be a part of. I love the “think tank” approach between faculty that has improved every aspect of putting a summer program together business wise and musically. I’ve watched 8-9 student quintets grow to 10-12, a classically defined program has now become an equally impressive jazz/world music program, our pay grade has doubled and our administrator Vanessa Gardner, who is also a seasoned french hornist, provides us the best of what Northeastern University can offer. In return, our student performances keep getting better, and better and better…
4. Any new hopes?
I hope that one day, the brass quintet can be regarded as an equivalent chamber ensemble to the string quartet. I hope that our repertoire can reach the ears of the general public through programmatic music, multi-media pieces and real time midi-electronics. I hope that as a composer, my music sets a new standard for the future of the brass quintet
1. What connections have you made from mathematics and science to music? Has it changed how you blow your horn or aim it?
At MIT I wrote my physics thesis on how the structure of a trumpet (for example, where you put the braces) affects its timbre. That’s definitely given me a different set of tools to think about how to change the colors of the instrument while I play. I definitely enjoy finding the patterns in crazy polyrhythms, and I think that’s been incredibly useful in fitting into new music ensembles over the years. Ultimately, I think that just like everyone else, all of that becomes part of the background when I perform and am trying to do my actual job of communicating with the audience.
2. What is the Tanglewood experience like for brass?
Very intense! The literature is challenging, everyone in the orchestra (all the way back to the last stand 2nd violin, who might be concertmaster next week) is giving their all, and oh by the way, the entire Boston Symphony brass section will be at the concert, so please try to do a good job… I was there 15 years ago and I can still vividly remember the expressions on James Conlon’s face as he, the audience, and I all negotiated when I was going to start Mahler 5.
Wes Hopper: 1. Tell us about WGBH and it’s significance in New England. What was it like to be to play brass quintets for an audience of 30,000?
WGBH is the dominating public broadcasting force in New England. Their studios are in Boston, but their reach is certainly worldwide with acclaimed series Nova, Masterpiece, Frontline etc being produced here.
Wether it’s recitals for massive audiences such as the WGBH events, feature music at Fenway Park or for 15,000 at the winners concert in Lyon, France, I’ve found that when we’ve played for very large audiences the energy is amazing, but it was a bit less personal and harder to connect. In some ways that makes it less stressful. As long as the audience digs it, I don’t have a preference in number. Connecting with one person is enough!
2. Do you approach articulation differently in a quintet dominated by valved instruments as opposed to a section of trombones? Does bass bone instead of tuba in the quintet change the articulation equation?
I just do my best to keep up! Playing in a quintet and playing in a section certainly have similarities. I don’t think I play so differently in either setting. Rather, it’s the setting that has different requirements. Basically, quintet music is significantly more demanding technically than the average orchestral work. So of course I’m forced to play more lightly to keep up with the more agile instruments.
Having bass trombone instead of tuba changes everything and changes nothing. The modern bass trombonist, certainly Angel and other successful quintet bass trombonists like John Rojak or Dave Taylor, can make a very wide sound effectively eliminating the necessity of the tuba in quintet. But all things being equal, the bass trombone still has a smaller core of sound. So, you kind of get the best of both worlds…a wide, lush foundation, but a core that is easily identified for the purposes of pitch, blend and indeed articulation. Since I don’t have to use such a wide sound to bridge between the tuba and horn, the articulation too is easier and clearer (I hope!).
What are your thoughts on .547 bore as opposed to .525 bore tenors in the setting of brass quintet? I play .547 bore almost all the time. There is really very little difference between a modern .525 and .547 trombones. Most if not all companies use the same bell/valve combination on both and just offer a different hand slide diameter. Sometimes they are found with a slightly smaller bell; 8″ rather than 8.5″, but not always. If the same lead pipe is used on both horns and no other change is made the difference is practically inaudible until you get to very loud dynamics (where the .525 can’t compete). If the .525 is a small shank instrument where the mouthpiece must be changed, then the sound will be quite a bit different, most often in the direction of a commercial trombone sound. But, for that I prefer to go to a .508 bore instrument personally. Mostly (completely) it’s about the sound you hear.
c.2016 David William Brubeck All Rights Reserved. www.davidbrubeck.com
There is no telling how you first may have encountered the incredible musician Ralph Sauer. It may have been in print, as Sauer is among the most prominent transcribers and arrangers for brass instruments-more than 275 offerings and counting. Or perhaps your first encounter was with Sauer in his role as trombone section leader for the Los Angeles Philharmonic, where he served as principal trombonist and more than an occasional soloist from 1974-2006. A teacher of numerous students, including Christian Linberg, at institutes and workshops, festivals and universities, Sauer himself was a student of the legendary Emory Remington at the Eastman School of Music. The virtuoso trombonist is a founding member of Summit Brass, and recorded an album of orchestral excerpt demonstrations and performance tips for the tenor trombonists. Please join “1385” tm in its maiden voyage as a short, written interview series with some of today’s most outstanding musicians who happen to play tenor trombone. “1385 AD” scratches the surface with Ralph Sauer…enjoy!
1. Which are your three or four favorite tenor trombone solos? (1st or 2nd..). How would you personify or depict each-& how does this inform your phrasing?
a.) The Mahler 3rd Symphony has to be at the top of the list because of its length and exposed passages. I see the louder sections as an oration by the god Pan.
b.) Ravel’s Bolero is on the list because of its popularity and difficulty. I think of Tommy Dorsey and cross my fingers!!!
c.) Maybe a strange choice, but Sibelius 7th Symphony is one of my favorites. The symphony (in one movement) climbs three mountains–each one higher than the previous one. The trombone plays a solo role in each of these climaxes. It’s a very thick orchestration at those peaks, over which the trombone has to soar without sounding harsh.
2. Only Maurice Andre, and perhaps a handful of other brass players have reached a level occupied by dozens, if not hundreds, of soloists on piano, violin or cello. What are we brass soloists missing?
But there are some brass players today who perform at the highest level. I won’t try to name them, because I might inadvertently leave someone out. Those top musicians have something the rest of the pack doesn’t have. It’s not enough to play in tune, in time, and with a great sound. The top players have a fourth dimension. This includes a complete understanding of the composer’s style, and the ability to go beyond just playing all the notes perfectly. Their phrasing is natural and appropriate; their rhythmic sense is elastic, but never distorted; and they can vary their tone quality to suit the style of the music. They are natural communicators.
Ralph Sauer, trombonist www.davidbrubeck.com
3. “Right tool for the job”. Alto, .485, .500, .508, .525, .547, .562…How many different bore sizes or types of trombone would you use in a typical season? For which reasons?
During most of my career, I used one instrument–the Elkhart Conn 8H. It was able to do anything I wanted it to do. In the ’80s, I started using the alto trombone for everything that was appropriate–Mozart, Schubert, Brahms, Schumann, etc. For the last 5 or 6 years of my time in Los Angeles, I switched to a 525/547 bore slide that gave me the best of both worlds–a large bore sound with a medium bore effort. Very few people realized I was playing on a slightly smaller setup. In fact, I received the most compliments from non-brass players after switching.
4. What is you approach to playing in the upper register?
The upper register requires embouchure strength, less volume of air, and faster air. I focus the air stream farther and farther down as the notes get higher.
5. What is your secret to a great legato?
I use the sound of a perfect natural slur as my model for all other slurs. Perfect legato on the trombone requires exact coordination of slide and tongue. The slide is not early or late–it is on time. How each individual thinks about achieving this can vary. Some people think of the slide being ahead. Others achieve good results by waiting in each position. A third way of thinking would be not to move the slide until the tongue says to move. Sloppy legato is usually the result of the slide moving too soon.
6. Which classical soloists inspire you, and why?
Anne-Sophie Mutter is at the top of my list of current performers, but I have drawn great inspiration from Glenn Gould, Rudolf Serkin, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, etc. Why? Because their performances always sound fresh and vital. I can listen to them over and over and hear new things every time.
7. As principal trombonist, how do you differentiate leading versus accompanying? Are there times you must accompany in a leading fashion?
Fitting into and blending in a symphony orchestra is not leading or accompanying. It’s knowing when to be more prominent and when to be transparent. For example, a fortissimo is not as loud as you can play. Loudness depends on many factors: size of hall, musical time-period; importance of your part; conductor preference, etc.
8. Why are the cello suites so special? Why do you and other trombonists seem to have such a strong affinity for them?
I was introduced to the Bach Cello Suites by my teacher Emory Remington. I think of them as “private music” rather than “public music.”
They are important pedagogically, of course. But more importantly, they give us a chance to play the music of the great master on our beloved instrument.
c. 2016 David William Brubeck All Rights Reserved www.davidbrubeck.com
That Musician’s Wellness of North America, L.L.C. has been established by Jan Kagarice, is no surprise. Kagarice has made a career out of teaching some of the very healthiest trombone players from around the world as part of the trombone faculty at the University of North Texas, but has also made a specialty out of helping those who had been injured or needed to overcome some form of limitation. Jan is no stranger to medical issues, and having to resolve them to continue to play trombone is part of her character. In the same way, performing as the bass trombonist of the successful PRISMA trombone quartet helped her to coach a number of award winning trombone quartets from UNT. Part of a team of teachers, a concept growing among applied studios at upper division institutions, Jan’s diverse experiences as a musician and a human being have sharpened and deepened her to help others-which she seems to love to do. Come along as Jan Kagarice shows Seven Position something about teamwork, keeping it simple, and staying healthy. Enjoy!
1. What do you look for in a horn?
One that resonates easily and has good flexibility throughout the range.
2. What were your teaching style and objectives like before you had medical challenges as compared with afterwards?
I have a form of muscular dystrophy and a rare neurological disorder. Neither of which are life threatening but certainly caused me to learn about efficiency and healthy function.
My objectives in guiding musicians has ALWAYS been about the music. I believe that the music itself is the teacher. My students call me coach… I’m just coaching their focus of attention to the music, pretty easy gig! 😉 When a player has physical issues that interfere with performance, I assist them is becoming more efficient…. doing LESS. That’s why they are called “LESSons” 😉
3. What makes a multi-teacher applied studio approach work at the university level? What are the advantages and disadvantages of the single teacher versus the team?
I think that a team approach has enormous benefits, if the team is working together and each student has a “home base” studio. However, if this approach is not clearly structured or if faculty become competitive with each other… this is noncooperative and really unfortunate and unhealthy for the students in that environment. (Dr. Noel Wallace wrote an excellent dissertation about the team approach within the trombone studio at Codarts: Rotterdam that brought about the New Trombone Collective and MANY incredible trombonists/musicians).
A single teacher can more easily guide a studio in a certain direction and can certainly bring in other professionals of their choosing. I would also assume that single teacher is more likely to seek collaboration across their department, which can be of great benefit for all.
4. What is your secret to a great legato?
Great concept of legato and excellent air flow. Over instruction of this on the trombone is detrimental in my opinion. There are excellent models out there and it is best to copy by ear.
5. What have been your favorite “unexpected” uses or niche for the bass trombone?
I am not sure what you mean by this question, sarcasm says “lamp”. Honest: George Roberts in Nelson Riddle’s band. Not unexpected, but the excellence of time, pitch, balance and feel make you notice! Dave Taylor plays Daniel Schnyder. Again, it’s about musical communication.
And to add a twist: Least favorite but expected: ego-driven bass trombonists in orchestral settings.
“Janet”, Performed by Maniacal Four Trombone Quartet in dedication to Jan
6. It has been said that people “play their personality”. How much of a compelling factor for a performer is the character, humanity and temperment that infuses the performer?
I agree with the statement completely, but it is also important for the performer to not let their personality overshadow the expression of the composer brought to life.
7. What are some of your favorite memories as a performer?
Easy! Every performance with PRISMA (trombone quartet) …. especially Cleveland ITF (1993 for the young folks!)
8. How do you view chamber music opportunities for bass trombonists? What were your experiences?
Chamber Music is extremely important for all musicians. Bass trombonists in trombone quartets need to be sure to play some inner parts every once in a while so that it transfers when you play with a tuba in a larger ensemble. I played a LOT of sackbut as a younger player and enjoyed early music immensely. I felt that it helped me to become a better musician. I then played a LOT of brass quintets at New England Conservatory. Chamber Music experience helped me adapt to every other ensemble. I encourage all of my students to immerse themselves in different genres of music. It will make them a better player, more marketable, but also keep their career interesting!
c. 2016 David William Brubeck All Rights Reserved www.davidbrubeck.com
“Can’t respond right now, we are about to perform The Pearl Fishers”, or, “I’m at intermission of Turandot”. Night after night, the world’s greatest singers adorn the productions of the Metropolitan Opera, and in the pit, they are accompanied by their orchestral equals. Led by maestro Levine, the Met’s orchestra is among the most highly skilled and best paid in the world. Opera recordings, Symphonic outings, and recordings of their vaunted brass are not uncommon in the storied accomplishments of the orchestra. A true Met bass, trombonist Steve Norrell has been a stalwart in orchestra, proving his longevity and passion for music. Trained at Juilliard and by members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Norrell has grown to embody his own musical voice and perspectives. An American original, he has recently returned to the recital stage with a world premiere of a sonata dedicated to his mentor, CSO bass trombonist Ed Kleinhammer. “Seven Positions” tm takes you to the opera. Enjoy!
1. What is your connection with “The Chicago School” of playing brass instruments, and what were the main things you learned from it?
The summer after I graduated from high school, I attended the Brevard music Center and requested Charles Vernon as my instructor. Charlie was then in the Baltimore Symphony and was thought of at Brevard as the secondary instructor. Gerry Pagano (who I grew up with and is 5 days younger than me) had studied the previous summer with Charlie and improved substantially over one summer. Charlie likes to say that I was actually the first student at Brevard to request him as a teacher. That introduction obviously changed my life!
I’ve never been big on the concept of “schools” of playing or teaching. While attending Juilliard and taking professional orchestra auditions, people would often refer to me as a New York style player (because that’s where I was in school), which I did not agree with. Individuals are affected by exposure and it doesn’t necessarily have to be local. The way the Philharmonic articulates now is very different than the hard tongue in the time of Vacchiano, Chambers, Herman and Novotny. I’ve heard Joe Alessi say that the way they articulate now is different than what he did when he was in the Philadelphia Orchestra. The key is to be flexible enough to fit into any situation.
When I came to Juilliard I didn’t know a lot of orchestral music. After buying budget recordings to learn repertoire, I realized that it was money poorly spent because if I didn’t like the playing, I wouldn’t listen to it. Even though the CSO recordings were never “budget,” it was a much better investment! My concept of sound is actually from Bud Herseth. Conceptually I think of this beautiful fundamental core, with rings around it. I don’t think anyone on trombone has ever achieved the presence of sound that Mr. Herseth did on trumpet, but that is the sound which is in my head. In those days the CSO would do to residencies at Carnegie each season and perform three different programs on each visit. Each year you could hear them play six different programs. On one program in the 70s they played Brahms 3rd and then Brahms 1st after the intermission. Mr. Herseth did not play the first half, but walked on stage during the intermission. A group of people began applauding just when he walked on stage. When Mr. Herseth played the first C on the downbeat, it was like Ah, he’s back! My definition of presence has always been the immediacy of the most beautiful core sound. It doesn’t have to be loud, it’s the quality and the immediacy.
While at Juilliard for four years, I had lessons with Mr. Kleinhammer on almost every CSO visit to NY. He was such an inspirational person and I’ll always have visual images in my mind of him coaching me. My Juilliard instructor, Don Harwood, grew up in Chicago studying with Mr. Kleinhammer. During the time that I was at Juilliard, Amtrak was reasonable and cheap to Baltimore and I would take the train and stay with Charlie (who then played in Baltimore) every other weekend. They all had similar concepts but their own way of saying it. Being exposed to all of them was a wonderful combination! They were all influenced by the CSO brass sound and after completing my first Met season, I attended my first Jacobs master class week at Northwestern. While there, I had two private lessons with Mr. Jacobs. Without a doubt I consider Mr. Jacobs to be the foremost authority on respiratory function and his insight is the reason for my Met longevity.
I’ve always disliked comparisons between orchestras. There are so many relative factors that it’s inevitably unfair. In the 1970s, the CSO brass section was unique in that there was a strong player on every chair. Other orchestras had great brass artists, but didn’t have the quality on every voice. The depth of great playing has increased so that almost every orchestra has that quality and because of the accessibility of recordings and broadcasts, styles are more uniform. Stefan Schulz once met me at the Met stage door after a performance of Wozzeck. Before he was in the Berlin Philharmonic he had heard numerous Met performances. He commented that “the Met orchestra plays more like a European orchestra than any other American orchestra.” After thinking about it for a while, I don’t think it’s a matter of European or American, it’s the exposure to the vocal style. European orchestras play much more opera compared to US orchestras. The Met orchestra is unique because of its exposure to the vocal style and I believe it is the reason why our young Met wind principals have had such success filling principal vacancies in major symphony orchestras.
John Swallow liked students to change partials if they did an interval larger than a 3rd. It’s a good rule to experiment with, but I believe the other part of the equation is the embouchure being efficient. In my early Met years, Pavarotti would go from one interval to the next immediately, without bumping the new frequency. I believe it’s the same on our instrument. There’s a fine line between having a good liquid legato, but not being stiff or rigid. Jay Friedman frequently tells students to play a “slow slur,” which is what I interpret as Jay trying to get the student to blow through the legato. I’ll often ask the student to have a quicker and more efficient embouchure without bumping the notes. I think that Jay and I are approaching the same thing from different sides of the equation. I encourage students to buzz legato phrases only using their tongue on the initial attack after a breath. After that, the clarity should come from the efficiency of the embouchure. It has to be trained! Even with students who prefer to use legato tongue, I encourage them to buzz the mouthpiece only using the tongue on the initial attack. If their embouchure becomes more efficient, whatever amount of legato tongue they were using inevitably becomes less.
The stimulus that I use when I play legato is thinking that it’s smooth. Personally I try to have the tongue out of the way as much as possible, but when I’m playing, being smooth is primary and anything else that I’m doing to achieve this is a trained reaction and secondary.
My two favorite legatos that I’ve personally encountered are Charlie Vernon’s and Norman Boulder’s. It’s not a coincidence that Jay Friedman studied with Swallow before he got into the CSO or that Norman studied with Swallow in school or that Charlie commuted to NYC while in Baltimore to study with Swallow.
3. How did the piece you have premiered, which is dedicated to Ed Kleinhammer, come about? What does it mean to you musically and personally?
After Mr. Kleinhammer passed away in 2012, Alan Carr, who was studying at the University of Wisconsin at that time, coordinated this commission. John Stevens is the tuba instructor at Wisconsin as well as on the composition faculty and Alan sent out a proposal to many prominent players. Mr. Kleinhammer might have played the second movement which quotes Mahler, but he probably wouldn’t have been interested in playing the rest of the work, although I think he would’ve liked the piece.
Mr. Kleinhammer had an infectious enthusiasm and when he, Jeff Reynolds and myself judged a bass trombone competition at the 1994 ITF in Minneapolis, the first words out of his mouth when he saw me were that he had “retired too soon” (…after only 45 years in the CSO). He loved music and when our paths crossed he would tell me about Met broadcasts he had heard that he knew I had played on. I know that he experimented with composition (unfortunately I never heard any of his pieces, but he talked to me about them) and even if a piece did showcase his strengths, I’m confident he still had the capacity to like a work or find it interesting. I had a student attend the Ithaca ITF and I called him during his time there to ask if he was enjoying the workshop. Well he was having a lesson at that time with Mr. Kleinhammer. When the phone rang, Mr. Kleinhammer asked my student who was calling? When the student replied that my name showed in the caller ID, Mr. Kleinhammer replied that he should answer because he wanted to talk to me.
I didn’t get to study with him as much is so many other people, but he was always so giving, supportive and encouraging! I was so very fortunate to have these opportunities with these icons!
4. How would you describe the roles and the relationship between the tuba and the bass trombone in an orchestra? In your view, does any other pair of winds have a similar relationship?
Often times I believe that the bass trombone should be the clarity in the middle of the tuba sound. I worked alongside Herb Wekselblatt my first 15 years at the Met and Herb only played a B-flat tuba. Playing next to Herb was one of the great joys of my life. He was unbelievably talented and natural, although he was uncomfortable when we started doing Carnegie concerts in 1991 because he wasn’t familiar with the symphonic repertoire, having played more opera. Our orchestra was very busy recording during this time and I spent a lot of time listening to recordings on blending of our sounds..
For bass trombone and tuba as a team, I believe it’s important for the bass trombone to complement the tuba sound. On an excerpt like Fountains, when the tuba is going down to their low Es, the bass trombone should not be any louder (even though the composer raises the dynamic), then the tuba can be audible with their best sound in the hall. If the bass trombone’s too loud, you just lose the low octave and the effect is different. There are so many examples like this. The group’s sound should always be strived for. The same could be said between the celli and basses or any of Wagner’s wind orchestrations in the Ring. All of Wagner’s Ring groups are scored in quartets except for the solo tuba voice.(3 Flutes & piccolo. 3 oboes & English Horn, etc,) In order to maintain the transparency, balance is imperative. Principal melodic idea should always speak immediately and be audible to the listener’s ear first or it’s musically confusing.
5. What are your favorite solo pieces, which have been recorded, for bass trombone?
Unfortunately, I’m a bit of a dinosaur with the solo bass trombone repertoire. My recent Manhattan School of Music recital was my first at the school in 23 years. In 1994, I suffered nerve damage in my right shoulder in the process of having a rotator cuff repaired and that sidetracked my solo appearances for a long time. Extending my arm has been problematic since and certain passages I was not comfortable doing. It will always be weak because of the nerve entrapment, but I’m now working with a private Pilates instructor who has helped me be able to recognize the muscle that should be firing and gradually I’m relearning everything. It’s substantially better than any time since my 94 surgical procedure (range of motion is much better), so I’m optimistic that I will be more active!
The Stevens was the first consortium that I was part of, but since then some members of that group have organized funding to commission other pieces for our instrument by composers who they were interested in. Interesting concept and I’m glad to be a participant!
6. How would you describe your pedagogy? What have you adopted from others and what have you developed on your own?
I would say that I’m a combination of so much good fortune! My mother moved to Athens Georgia when I was going into ninth grade and I began studying with Phil Jameson, who I consider the finest teacher in that advanced developmental stage of trombone playing that I’ve ever encountered. Dr. Jameson’s students all had good facility and were good sight readers because of the repertoire we were forced to play. The music program in Athens at that time was unbelievable, as was the level of young high school trombonists who were studying with Dr. Jameson. I’ve encountered other people who felt that their young trombone environment was special, but it’s hard for me to imagine any place being better than my experience at that time. Gerry Pagano and I were one year behind Carter Stanfield, who was the big trombone star. Everyone got along and realized very early that competition is within oneself. On weekends, we would play ensembles for hours with occasional breaks for basketball. As a quartet, we played the Bozza in the 11th grade and didn’t even know that it was difficult.
During the winter of 1972, several of us went up to a workshop with Lewis Van Haney at Western Carolina University. It was advertised as a weekend trombone choir for college and top high school students. Carter and I were the two top students there (Gerry didn’t attend because he had gotten a C during a marking period). Carter played first and Mr. Van Haney lent me his bass trombone to play the bottom voice. What a great experience! About a year later Mr. Van Haney picked out a TR180 and had it sent to me from the Holton factory. During my senior year, Mr Van Haney actually did a master class at my high school and it was only years later that I came to the realization that it had been a recruiting visit. Quite honestly, I was not a good enough student at that time to have handled IU and was much better suited to the Juilliard curriculum of that time. Even though I didn’t go to IU, Mr. Van Haney was always such a positive influence on me. I saw him do the same master class on four different occasions, and hearing how he treated every colleague on an outside job as if they were one of his Philharmonic coworkers made such a lasting impression on me. He was a man of the generation that seems to have had the highest level of civility.
Besides the day that I met my wife Karen, meeting Charlie Vernon in the summer of 1974 probably had the greatest effect on the outcome of my life. Until he became a member of the CSO, I was fortunate enough to always get to spend time with him. Don Harwood was incredibly thorough with his preparation throughout all the time I was at Juilliard and I was fortunate enough to be in the Tanglewood fellowship the summer of Norman Boulder’s first BSO season at Tanglewood. One of the greatest assets for a young musician is getting an opportunity to play with s many great players as possible. I was very fortunate and was always trying to learn.
In my first lesson with Arnold Jacobs, he pointed out how my tongue was in the way of my wind flow in the articulation. He would take the same equipment and from the moment the sound started, the wind flow was at max. Mine would be tongue, and then once the tongue got out of the way the wind flow would appear. He told me that I was overly dependent upon my tongue, but wanted me to figure out for myself how to establish my own new good habit. Trying to make this better was like searching for the Holy Grail. After several years it got much better and I actually evolved out of being James Levine’s whipping boy. There was a time when there could be an orchestral train wreck and the first words out of Jimmy’s mouth would be, “we need cleaner articulation from the low trombone.” Over time, I believe my immediacy has become an asset. Most students who ever studied with me will say that I’m obsessive about the clarity of sound and the clarity of articulation. Mr. Jacobs would always say that my instrument was a large bore tenor and I believe my greatest assets are sound and clarity.
7. Who are your inspirations? Non-musical?
My inspiration has always been the support and love of my family. Over the years, I’ve encountered students who lacked this same type of family support and I was always cognizant of how fortunate I was. I didn’t have much financial backing (although college was very inexpensive then compared to today), but I always felt that them behind me, no matter how big the challenge or hurdle. This support has also been the sustaining influence in overcoming my recent physical challenges.
I’ve been so fortunate in meeting so many people that it would be impossible to name them all. Obviously some are in the arts, but we encounter unique special people almost every day in our lives. I think that you have to cherish the good and try not to worry too much about the ones which you do not like!
8. How would you contrast the “New York School” of trombone playing of Joe Alessi with what you learned in Chicago?
Joe Alessi is such a unique person. He is one of the hardest working individuals I’ve ever known! The progress that he’s made since he became principal trombone of the Philharmonic is monumental and he’s always looking for ways to incorporate new things into what he does. During Joe’s early years, we had a weekly racquetball game and would occasionally play together. Simply tremendous! Since those years, certain aspects of his playing have improved exponentially. Playing a job like the Met, I was always envious of the freedom and flexibility that Joe had in doing outside projects. Of course I’m happy for Joe and it’s hard to imagine anyone being more productive while they were doing it.
Joe is a little younger than I am, but he was at Curtis while I was at Juilliard and all of us of that era were positively affected by the CSO. Joe’s greatest influences were his father, teachers in the Bay Area (Ned Meredith and Mark Lawrence) and then Dee Stewart and especially Glenn Dodson at Curtis. Many years ago I had conversations with Joe about my lessons with Mr. Jacobs. He was interested, but his concepts are uniquely his own on certain things. He’s been very successful in developing so many amazing artists, In 1988, the CSO was doing a residency at Carnegie and their off day that week was on Thursday. Charlie and Jay came up to the house in the afternoon as did Joe and David Finlayson. We played for hours (while I had the tape recorder on). Listening to the tape I hear individuals. It’s all really, really good, but unique to the person who was playing it. Since that time, Joe’s playing has only grown!
9. What have been your chamber music experiences, and what do you recommend for young players?Students of today do not play enough chamber music! I encourage all of my students to purchase as many duets as they can and if it’s out of print, find a copy. I tell my bass trombone students that I prefer them playing duets with the same instrument. Not that I have anything against playing duets with a tenor trombone, but ideally it’s best for both students if they both get an opportunity to play lead and accompaniment. When Mr. Jacobs referred to Mr. Herseth, he referred to him as a “storyteller.” While at Juilliard, I played Telemann canonic duets with a really descriptive bassoon player. It was really interesting playing these duets with another instrument that doesn’t have the same instrumental challenges that ours does and trying to put the music above anything else.
There is no substitute for young players developing the ability to play and listen at the same time. Some people of my generation say that I was lucky to have gotten the opportunities that I did (true), but the most important thing was that when I got these opportunities, I went in and made a good impression. In a repertoire orchestra, it’s really obvious if someone is not listening. I was successful because of all the chamber music I played!