Saturday, June 19, 2010

Susan Slaughter and Julie Landesman were honored last night in a concert by the Monarch Brass Ensemble. Susan is retiring after a 40-year tenure with the St. Louis Symphony, and Julie is retiring from the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra after a mere 25 years. Monarch played well, with many service members in the group wearing performance uniforms of their various branches. Imagine Michael Jackson coming back as a suffragette. There were a few nice pieces that I would like to try next time I have a large brass ensemble at my disposal. If I hadn't spilled yogurt on my program, I could tell you what they were.

I went to a fascinating talk by the master brass repairman Don Partch who spoke about common problems with brass instruments. These are issues that may be invisible such as salt or minerals deposits that build up inside the instrument and have the consistency of cement. The player struggles against these unknown conditions until when/if they are corrected.

Julie Landesman, a brilliant goddess, discussed her career and technique beautifully, moving some to tears. I only was able to catch the final Q & A, but her audience was rapt.

I played some very nice piccolo trumpets by Yamaha. There was a P5-4 alike, another version with a crooked bell, and a rotary picc. All come with 4 leadpipes, A and Bb, for both types of mouthpiece shanks. The crooked bell version had a very nice sound, more complex that the P5-4 version.

Oh, and Carole Dawn Reinhart was kind enough to share some video of her past performances. She appeared on the Al Hirt show and played Bugler's Holiday with him! She of course played beautifully, and he wasn't bad either. She also had some performances from Japan, along with an interview and appearance on a Japanese variety show where she played a rubber hose with a funnell for a bell. She was surprisingly nervous watching the video of the 1980 performance!

More concerts tonight. Now I'm headed to a trumpet master class with some Yamaha performing artists.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Two long long concerts

Last night was the Canadian Celebration concert. Section players from around the country came and played in a large ensemble, as well as smaller groups and solos. There were no less than 22 pieces on the program, some with multiple movements. The standout was Vanessa Fralick playing a trombone solo with the Weston Silver Band. Now a student at Julliard, Vanessa started at the band's youth program. The concert was 3 1/2 hours long!

Tonight's concert, "Making Music Rocks!" (who thought up that cheesy title?), was even longer. Bella Tromba, a British Trumpet Quartet, started the eve with Tower's Fanfare for the Uncommon Woman. The program describes them as glamorous, and they do indeed wear what I would consider cocktail party gear. The playing was great, but the modern program was tiresome after a bit. The exciting group of the evening was the Japan Ladies Brass, a group of about 18 brass and 3 percussion. Just the name alone... The conductor, Mariko Yamamoto, announced each piece in somewhat broken English, but she got her point across. Later she joined a percussionist playing a fast 4 hand xylophone piece. And they did Hey Jude as an encore, so who can go wrong with that.

Carol Jantsch playing a Piazzolla Tango on Tuba with piano acc. was also outstanding. She played from memory and I see what they mean when they say she transcends the instrument. It was mesmerizing. Lots more tuba ensued, as well as horn duets. The last piece I heard was a McDougall concerto played by Julia McIntyre on Bass Trombone. She sounded great, and she had to play really late, so...even more great.

By this time it was 11:15pm and I couldn't stay awake for the remaining two groups. I'm sure they were fabulous and that the lusty audience gave them yet another standing ovation.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Interview: Carol Jantsch, Tubist in the Philadelphia Orch.

The interviewers won this match, a trombonist and a hornist who spent 90% of the interview ruminating on their own experiences and impressions of Carol. They did ask Carol a few questions (four to be exact) in the midst of their respective monologues. It wasn't until the floor was open to audience questions 45 minutes into the interview that Carol was able to speak. She began as a young piano student, added Euphonium at 9 and later Tuba. Her mother was/is a vocalist, but she says that has no bearing on her career choice nor did she say that she was influenced by her mother. She is an intuitive and natural player who can switch between different instruments and doesn't seem to have a particular breathing method or technique other than "sitting up straight and filling up." The impression I got was that she, at age 25, is absolutely comfortable and confident in her position as principal in a major orchestra. Carol teaches at Curtis and Temple, but has no full time students yet. If there is sexism in the section she is impervious, instead focusing on, yes she said it, "the pursuit of excellence."

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Toronto sky as seen from the trail at Col. Samuel Smith part adjacent to Humber College. This was taken around 7pm. Amazing, isn't it?

then I went to the Greek Texan and had a pita. I didn't get the nice waitress. But I had a beer (Canadian) and saw part of the tepid Ivory Coast vs. Portugal game.

Welcome to Toronto

I was at the very first IWBC in St. Louis in...1991, was it? A long time ago. It was there that I met Suzanne Chasalow, who is now the hornist in my quintet, the Farallon Brass Ensemble, and performed with the great Joyce Johnson Hamilton. This time, I'm calling myself an "international observer" and will fill this blog with my own impressions and observations of the conference, a once-every-four-year occurrence. This is my third day in Toronto, a lovely city on Lake Ontario getting ready for the upcoming G20 summit and currently enjoying the FIFA World Cup (this is a very cosmopolitan city).

Sunday's "World's Biggest Brass Event" was the pre-amble to the conference, which turned out to be 101 brass players performing Mouret's Fanfare on the grass at Humber College conducted by Howard Cable. I have to admit that I didn't know who Mr. Cable was, but now I understand that he is quite well-known here in Canada.

Musicians are arriving today and rehearsals for the competitions can be heard through the halls of Humber.