Last month, the Atlantic Brass Quintet appeared at the International Trumpet Guild Conference in Minnesota. We had an excellent turnout for our recital and it got a nice review (click on May 26 and wait for the PDF to download) in the ITG journal. One of the highlights for me, though, was getting to hear the Minnesota Orchestra perform Mahler’s Symphony No. 6. In graduate school, I wrote a paper on this dramatic work, and I don’t think I have heard it performed live in years. The best part of this symphony, are the three hammer strikes. To see one of the percussionists lift this massive wooden hammer up prior to each strike was thrilling to watch, and the rest of the audience loved it too. This “Tragic” symphony was semi-autobiographical. Mahler, himself, was actually terrified by the premier, and these hammer blows would prove quite prophetic. Gene De Lisa has a great article on his blog, Classical Music Brain Droppings, about this, including some videos of percussionists wielding the massive hammer.
It was a magnificent performance, and due to the seating of the brass, I enjoyed hearing every note of principal tubaist Steve Campbell’s playing. I know Steve from our days in Boston, and remember sitting on a panel with him at Tubonium, and hearing him speak of taking over 30 auditions before landing the Minnesota job – an inspiring example of persistence. I went backstage to congratulate him and Doug Wright, the principal trombonist, and happened to see Doc Severensen, who was in town for the trumpet conference.
I was so inspired by the performance. I sat there realizing that I just haven’t gotten to enjoy enough orchestral performances, so I vowed to attend more. Next month, my family and I will be hearing the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at Ravinia to hear them perform Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring and Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique!