This post is coming a little late for a “fall semester activities” list, especially considering that mid-term exams are being given next week, but I have delayed it because of some event scheduling that has just become finalized. On the whole, this will be a tamer semester than my first two at Ole Miss. Giving the frenetic pace of activities that usually accompanies a new professor’s first year at a new institution, this is a welcome respite, though not a total rest. I am already beginning to plan and prepare for some spring semester performances, editing and mastering of the CD project I have mentioned in a couple of previous posts (see here and here) is ongoing in hopes of a release early next year, and in addition to my usual editing and arranging work I am beginning some preliminary work on a book that I plan to complete this summer (more on that later). So, while the performances list for this semester is a little short, its brevity is only making room for other activities.
October 26-27: North Mississippi Symphony Orchestra
I am especially pleased to have been asked to play this concert. Not only does the music of John Williams (b. 1932) include some exciting material for brass players, but this set of concerts also includes a “run-out” to my undergraduate alma mater, Delta State University. The North Mississippi Symphony Orchestra (formerly the Tupelo Symphony Orchestra) is a great performance outlet for many area music teachers and other freelance musicians. Having been without a regular opportunity to perform as part of a symphony orchestra for the first time in eight years after leaving the Monroe Symphony Orchestra, I hope that this will be the first of many performances with this group. Visit the NMSO website for more information about this and other performances.
November 11: UM Low Brass Ensembles
One of the first things I did when I joined the Ole Miss faculty last fall was to start a trombone ensemble and a tuba-euphonium ensemble. There has not been a trombone ensemble here in twenty years or so to my knowledge, and as far as I can tell there has never been a tuba-euphonium ensemble, so these groups were quite new to our campus and our students. Now in our second year, the groups are still a little “wet behind the ears,” but are playing increasingly well and growing in size. The trombone ensemble now has thirteen members, and the tuba-euphonium ensemble ten. The November 11 program will be about an hour in length, more or less evenly divided between the two groups. Highlights will include selections from Psychedelic Dances by Gail Robertson (b. 1965), and Posaunenstadt! by Eric Ewazen (b. 1954). The concert will be held at 7:30pm in David H. Nutt Auditorium on the Ole Miss campus, and is free and open to the public.
December 3: Senior Recitals—Kevin Diehl, tuba, and D.J. Fitzgerald, trombone
To my disappointment, a senior half-recital is not required to receive a music education degree at Ole Miss. However, I am pleased that so far my students here have volunteered to undertake such a project just before student teaching. The senior recital provides something of a “capstone” to the student’s development as an individual performer, and hopefully represents a culmination of interpretive skills that will be soon be directed toward their work as teachers and conductors. Accompanied by Stacy Rodgers, Kevin and D.J. will be performing a variety of works for their instruments, the most challenging of which will be the trombone concerto by Henri Tomasi (1901-1971), and the tuba sonata by Paul Hindemith (1895-1963). This recital will be held at 7:30pm in David H. Nutt Auditorium on the Ole Miss campus, and is free and open to the public.
December 5: Graduate Recital—James Hopkins, tuba
While Ole Miss has for many years offered a master’s degree in instrumental performance, most of our graduate students are educators and conductors, so I was surprised when I was told that I would have a MM tuba student here. James Hopkins’s work here has been very good. He has already performed one full recital here, and last year was a winner of the annual UM Concerto Competition, playing the first movement of the tuba concerto by John Williams. This recital, also accompanied by Stacy Rodgers, will be James’s “official” degree recital, which we have decided to do during the fall semester so that he can focus upon competitions and doctoral school auditions in the spring. The program will include works by Bruce Broughton (b. 1945), Martin Ellerby (b. 1957), Gustav Mahler (1860-1911), and Anthony Plog (b. 1947). This recital also will be held at 7:30pm in David H. Nutt Auditorium on the Ole Miss campus, and is free and open to the public.
December 7: TUBACHRISTMAS
TubaChristmas is an annual, nationwide event in which tuba and euphonium players of all ages and ability levels gather to perform holiday music for their communities. This will be the second year of the event in Oxford, which will include a morning rehearsal in the UM Band Hall followed by a free lunchtime performance on the Grove stage on the Ole Miss campus. All tuba and euphonium players are welcome to participate; there is a $10 participant fee and the sheet music is $20. The music is the same each year at every TubaChristmas event, so participants that still have music from prior years’ events can reuse that music. Please contact me if you would like more information.
These are the major performances I have scheduled for this semester; the list does not include occasional “gigs” at area churches and elsewhere. Also notably absent is a recital by the Mississippi Brass, the faculty brass quintet at the University of Mississippi. While we had not yet scheduled a recital for this semester, doing so was made quite impossible by the recent untimely passing of Dr. Charles R. Gates. Charlie was an exceptional trumpet player, musician, and human being. His playing was always very nearly perfect, with a big, full sound produced with ease and efficiency, and yet his demeanor was entirely free of the arrogance that sometimes characterizes musicians of his caliber. I am saddened by his passing but grateful for the brief time that I was able to work with him. Below is a brief selection from one of last year’s Mississippi Brass recitals which I think showcases Charlie’s exciting and aggressive (in a good way) approach to playing the trumpet.