Music for All

I just returned from a trip to Muncie, Indiana where the Atlantic Brass Quintet played for an audience of 1200 screaming teenagers. It was for the Music for All summer music symposium, which took place at Ball State University’s Emens Auditorium.

We were asked to play a 90-minute program without intermission and to make it interactive; talking to the students and explaining each piece as we went. We also invited to young saxophone players up on stage to join us for a performance of Thelonius Monk’s Blue Monk.

It was a fantastic hall and probably the most energetic and appreciative audiences we have ever performed for. One audience member took a vine video showing their amazing enthusiasm.

Here is a slideshow of some photos I took:

ITEC 2014 – Bloomington, IN

ITEC2014As usual, ITEC 2014 was an amazing and overwhelming experience, for both me and my students. Sam Pilafian called it a “Love Fest”, and the motto, “Where it all began” refers to the fact the first International Tuba and Euphonium Conference was held at Indiana University in 1973.

I was thrilled to be able to bring my students from the University of Iowa. As Collegium Tubum, they performed brilliantly on the last night of the conference and we were all inspired and entertained all week by the many amazing performances.

Collegium Tubum backstage at ITEC Bloomington

It would be hard to single out any favorite concerts, but of the course the big names like Øystein Baadsvik , Steven Mead, Roland Szentpali and David Childs were all incredible. But, my favorite moments of any conference are when I get to reconnect, even if briefly, with old friends. Getting to say hello once again to my old roommates from the Regina ITEC David Silden and Bart Collins, and old friends and classmates from Boston, Craig Knox and Steve Campbell. I was also very proud to see two of my former students, Dr. Kate Wholman and Dr. Chris Dickey presenting at the conference as well.

ITEC 2014 was also my first visit to Indiana University and Bloomington. The campus was beautiful and impressive and it was very special to be attending a conference that returned to “where it all began”.

One of the most memorable moments involved hearing a performance of David Baker‘s sonata for tuba and string quartet by David Saltzman. The performance was impeccable and musical, and although I have owned the piece for years, I had never heard it performed – not even in a recording. Dr. Baker was in the audience and it was an extra treat to be able to shake his hand after the concert and marvel at this man’s talent.

It was very touching to hear Eduardo Nogueroles’ performance of his original composition Harvey’s Tuba. Harvey spent some time in Spain and had a great influence on Eduardo and his students, and it was even more poignant for Carol Phillips, Harvey’s widow, to hear the performance and reconnect with Eduardo.

The inter-connectivity of our close-knit world is truly remarkable, and one of our strengths is the bond we all share and celebrate every two years at ITEC. My students and I look forward to the regional conferences of 2015 and the next ITEC in Knoxville in 2016.

Abbie Conant and William Osborne

Abbie Conant in a scene from Miriam

I recently served on the thesis defense committee of Dr. Jessica Butler, whose document is entitled The Creative Identity of Women: An Analysis of Feminist Themes in Select Chamber Music Theater Works by Composer William Osborne for Trombonist Abbie Conant. This document focusses on three works that Osborne wrote especially for Abbie Conant: Winnie, Miriam: The Chair, and Street Scene for the Last Mad Soprano.

Conant was the victim of egregious sexual discrimination by the Munich Philharmonic and endured years of harassment and litigation, ultimately winning her case. Her husband, William Osborne wrote this series of “Chamber Music Theater” compositions for her, and her playing, singing and acting is quite impressive. These visceral works are an artistic reaction to the sexism Conant faced, but highlight the widespread misogyny that is sadly part of our musical heritage. These works make you think, challenge you, inspire you, and strive to make a significant impact on the audience. You can view videos of Conant’s performances on Osborne’s YouTube channel or visit their website.

What strikes me is not just the unique character and power of the performances, but the fact that Conant memorizes 30 minutes of singing, acting, and trombone playing – all done with unbelievable ease.

For more about the story of Conant vs. the orchestra, read Osborne’s article: “You Sound Like a Ladies Orchestra” or the L.A. Times article Trombonist’s Battle Gives ‘Miriam’ a Voice.

They are currently preparing for an upcoming premiere of their new work Alethia in September at University of Victoria hosted by tuba Professor Eugene Dowling.

Online Tuba Discoveries

Mademoiselle Tuba

I have recently run across a number of interesting tuba and music related things on the internet lately that I thought I would share:

Limelight the “classical music and arts website” from Australia. This online version of the magazine features news, articles, reviews, events, galleries and more.

Not to be confused with the Meridian Arts Ensemble, the Meridian Brass (Quartet) have a very interesting and interactive website. Be sure to check out their new online interactive promo for their new recording “Once Upon a Time” on Prezi. Really cool interface, but I could do without the birds.

Jesse Chavez has a blog called “Longtones: The Pursuit of a Life in Music“. Check out his Sightreading Sundays posts and his posts on practicing with titles like Why Your Degree Title is Wrong and Well Rounded or Specialized?

Another tuba-centric blog is Mademoiselle Tuba maintained by Rachel Matz, principal tuba with the Tallahassee Symphony. Check out her post I’m using my F tuba, and no, I’m not transposing.

Another fun and interesting blog is Sousa Central with the description “Sousaphone and Tuba news, reviews, pictures, interviews and everything.” It’s loaded with photos, videos, and stories all related to tuba.

If you are interested in “BAT” (big ass tubas), check out Barth’s Brass Blog which has posts on his travels with his company Big Mouth Brass.

New School of Music wins award!

ImageArchitzer recently announced that the Suspended Theatroacoustic System for the new University of Iowa Concert Hall has won their A+ award (celebrating architecture’s relevency) in the fabrication category.

To say we are excited about our new building would be an understatement. Due to open in 2016, the new Voxman School of Music will be a state-of-the-art modern masterpiece uniting once again our faculty staff and students under one roof for the first time since 2008.

View images and information about the new building here at the LMN Architects website. (To scroll through the images, look for the << / >> at the top left of the page.)

Here is a diagram of how the system will work:

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http://www.architizer.com/en_us/projects/view/university-of-iowa-school-of-music-suspended-theatroacoustic-system/50135/#.UVcPMRlAsoN

Tubas in the News – March 2013 Edition

ImageA great gallery of photos of the “biggest tuba in the world” from the Houston Chron

Check out this story about a Norwegian “Ice Musician” in Turning a Glacier Into A Tuba from NPR.

Everything I Need to Know I Learned in Music Class by tuba player and business student Andrew Schwartz from CNN.

Read about the new work by composer Michael Daugherty, Reflections on the Mississippi for Tuba and Orchestra from Broadway World.

 

Atlantic Brass Quintet Recording

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Last week, the Atlantic Brass Quintet did a recording session at Enlow Hall at Kean University in New Jersey. We recorded a album of jazz and Balkan music that we are very excited about. The title and label of the recording has yet to be determined, but here is the program, in no particular order:

Jazz Set:
Passages by Patrice Caratini (five movements)
Private Music by Dave Douglas (two movements)
Jazz Suite by Dmitri Shostakovich (three movements)
Kopi Luwak by Alan Ferber
Luteous Pangolin by Ben Monder

Balkan Brass Band set with Jon Wikan on percussion:
Bubamara
Sat
Zvonce Kolo
Doise

We’ve been performing this music for a while, so we were thrilled to record it in an amazing hall, and with Andy Bove – a fantastic engineer. With the help of Yelp and our friend Jim Leff, we also visited a few great restaurants and bars in the area. (Sri Ganesh’s Dosa House in Jersey City,  and Coppermine Pub in North Arlington, NJ)

The night before our first day of recording, we were in need of a rehearsal space (since our hotel wouldn’t allow us to rehearse there) and we found Wagon Wheel Rehearsal Studios. If you are ever in the Newark/New York City area looking for a rehearsal space, I’d recommend it.