As I mentioned in a recent post, next week is going to be a big week for me, with performances of six solo works on three instruments over the course of the week. Today I am going to provide some brief program notes for these performances.
Monday, February 11: Faculty Recital Series—Micah Everett and Stacy Rodgers
Paul Creston (1906-1985): Fantasy for Trombone
Creston’s piece, one of the most challenging in the trombone repertoire, was composed in 1947 for Robert Marsteller (1918-1975), then Principal Trombonist in the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra. The story goes that when discussing the trombone’s possibilities before Creston began writing Marsteller requested no high range requirements above D5. Naturally, Creston included several D-sharps, all at a piano dynamic level or softer. A self-taught composer, Creston incorporated numerous influences into his works, including elements found in the symphonic, popular, and jazz repertoires.
Benedykt Konowalski (b. 1928): Ecumenical Triptych for Trombone Solo
Konowalski’s work found its way into our country in a very interesting way. While teaching and performing in Poland, Eastman School of Music trombone professor Dr. John Marcellus was simply handed this piece of music following a concert. Ecumenical Triptych is a work for unaccompanied trombone in three movements, “In Modo Gregoriano,” “In Modo Judaico,” “In Modo Orthodokso.” Each of the movements is intended to resemble a type of chant; the work thus takes advantage of the trombone’s voice-like tone qualities as well as its longstanding religious associations in order to create a fascinating and deceptively challenging musical experience.
Robert Redhead (b. 1940): Euphony
The euphonium plays a more prominent role in the British-style brass band than perhaps any other medium, and some of the best brass bands in the world are associated with the Salvation Army. Robert Redhead is a Salvation Army colonel and a former director of the Canadian Staff Band. Euphony, originally for euphonium with brass band accompaniment, incorporates four hymn tunes by Sidney Cox, including “He Found Me,” “This One Thing I Know,” “You Can Tell Out the Sweet Story,” and “Deep and Wide.” The last of these is probably the best known to American audiences.
Jan Koetsier (1911-2006): Andante Maestoso for Bass Trombone and Piano
The first piece on the second half is Allegro Maestoso by the Dutch composer Jan Koetsier. It is a short but powerful and energetic work, though it also contains some tongue-in-cheek elements that are characteristic of Koetsier’s music. Koetsier has written a number of works for brass soloists and chamber groups. All are of high quality, and are substantive without being overwhelming for listeners. As I mentioned, in the midst of whatever musical statements he is making the composer seems to “wink at” the performer and listener from time to time. This, in my mind, strikes a good balance between substance and approachability.
Eric Ewazen (b. 1954): Concerto for Bass Trombone
The recital will conclude with the concerto by Eric Ewazen. This piece was originally intended for tuba but works well on bass trombone and is now published with both instruments listed as possible mediums for the soloist. Ewazen’s music will be familiar to most brass players, and is marked by driving rhythms, short and “catchy” melodic motives rather than extended and flowing lines, with an overall sense of tonal harmony and rich sonorities that audiences tend to find quite pleasing. This piece will provide an exciting and enjoyable end to Monday’s recital.
Friday, February 15: Mid-South Honor Band
Jean-Baptiste Arban (1825-1889): Fantasie and Variations on “The Carnival of Venice”
Arban was one of the early virtuoso performers on the cornet à pistons, and authored a method book for that instrument that is still used by brass players throughout the world. He was one of several composer-performers of the period who wrote a set of variations on this tune; his remains perhaps the best-known. Although I have practiced and performed Carnival on several occasions in the past, the piece always tests my euphonium playing skills with its demands for finger dexterity, rapid tonguing, free movement between registers, and, at the same time, tasteful and tuneful playing.
Concert Venues and Information
The recital on Monday will be held at 8pm in David H. Nutt Auditorium on the Ole Miss Campus. Tickets are $8 for adults and $5 for children and students.
The Friday performance will begin at 8:00pm in the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts. That performance is part of the Mid-South Honor Band. Contact the band office if you would like to inquire about attending, though I believe that performance is free and open to the public.
In any case, I hope to upload recordings of some or all of these performances for next week’s post, so if you are unable to attend in person, you will still be able to listen by visiting the blog then.