Guest Artist: David Kassler


Our Oktubafest 2008 has started off well. On Sunday, we performed a concert at the Amana Colonies Oktoberfest. Chris did a great job preparing and conducting Collegium Tubum, and the Festhalle Barn sounded great.

This week we also enjoyed a visit from euphonium artist and Iowa alum, Dr. David Kassler. On Monday, he performed a wonderful recital at the Buchanon auditorium in the Pappajohn Business Building. The recital was excellent, and we had an unusually large audience, mostly due to the fact that there are fewer concerts for recital attendance students to go to. It was the first time we heard a concert in this large lecture hall, and although it was a little dead, it’s not a bad room for a recital. I had the pleasure of joining Dr. Kassler for the Stevens Suite for Two, the rest of the program included: Barat Introduction and Dance, Galliard Sonata No. 5, OctoNervosa Beta by Timothy Crowley, Boaccalari Fantasia di Concerto, and Schumann’s Five Pieces in Folk Style

Tuesday, Dr. Kassler joined us at Zion church for a masterclass. Freshmen Steve Neilssen and Melissa Reiff, and Senior Pat Bigsby performed and got some great advice. I took a few notes, and here are some of the highlights:

  • He suggested to Steve to try to “radiate your sound from your entire horn, not just out of your bell”
  • Recommended that euphoniums, who also play trombone, to play Rochut etudes on trombone without articulating, then switch to euphonium and do the same – only changing notes with the valves.
  • As I do, he recommended playing Rochut/Bordogni in three octaves, or for euphonium, putting them in tenor clef instead of an actave higher.
  • Instead of the phrase “avoid bearing down as you play”, I like how he suggested to “avoid using the cough muscles”
  • To Pat, he asked “Will you invite me more, as a listener, into what you are doing musically?
  • Recalling a suggestion from a Russian conductor, he reminded us to “play with more hunger”
  • Finally, a metaphorical image: “Sometimes, when a teacher asks you to adjust something, the pendulum swings too far the other way, then finally centers on exactly what you are looking for”

We all learned a lot and enjoyed Dr. Kassler’s visit, and wish him well.

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