2008 Sotto Voce Symposium
by Jamie Lipton, Instructor of Low Brass, Henderson State University, Arkadelphia, Arkansas
Early this summer, the Sotto Voce Quartet put together a quasi-informal workshop at the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Alabama that was extremely valuable. The relaxed schedule included two daily coachings—one in a rehearsal setting with a different Sotto Voce member each day and a second in a master class setting in the evening, where all four Sotto Voce members could contribute. There was also a daily clinic wherein the Sotto Voce members each gave an informative lecture on their respective areas of specialization. Each morning was free, allowing plenty of time for both individual practice and ensemble rehearsals, and there was also ample time for meals and socializing. On the first night, Sotto Voce performed for all the attendees at an informal concert that also served as an introductory meeting. The final performance at the end of the week featured Sotto Voce as well as all of the student ensembles, which included a euphonium quartet from the University of North Texas, a tuba quartet from the University of Alabama (which would eventually win the 2008 ITEC quartet competition), and an ensemble comprised of students who came to the symposium individually and were formed into a sextet by Sotto Voce.
as a header photo: Participants & Sotto Voce, 2008 Sotto Voce Symposium
In addition to the informality and intimacy of the workshop, one of its greatest attributes was its emphasis on a comprehensive musical experience: educating the whole musician. Each ensemble performed every day in the evening master classes, so everybody came away with several performances under their belt. The master classes also encouraged students to sharpen their listening and develop their knowledge of pedagogy by allowing them to observe Sotto Voce coaching the other groups. The daily clinics promoted well roundedness, introducing students to designing their own warm-up/practice routine (Demondrae Thurman), Baroque ornamentation (Mark Carlson), playing by ear (Nat McIntosh), and writing techniques/career management (Mike Forbes). Since each member of Sotto Voce clearly brings something unique to the table, students benefited greatly from hearing their different musical ideas in the individual coachings—another aspect of the multi-faceted approach.
University of Alabama Quartet performing a tribute to Michael Jackson
Overall, the workshop was extremely well designed and worthwhile for pre-formed ensembles as well as interested individuals. It was a positive and inspiring experience for everyone involved. Sotto Voce never fails to impress, not only with their performances but also with their creative teaching and good humor.
Sotto Voce member Demondrae Thurman coaching the Symposium sextet
The next Sotto Voce Symposium has evolved and been morphed into the Miraphone Academy to be held June 25–28, 2009 at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro. Interested prospective students may visit Sotto Voce’s website at www.tubaquartet.com for updates regarding this new tuba/euphonium summer music academy.
Sotto Voce member Nat McIntosh working with student group
The Sotto Voce Quartet Symposium was a very fulfilling and rewarding experience for our quartet. They bring their numerous years of chamber music experience to the fantastic daily coachings and master classes. The atmosphere is mostly relaxed, and the information you will learn is invaluable! Being around such great musicians inspires me to push harder toward my goals. Chamber music is such a rewarding experience, and I hope everyone takes the opportunity to bring their chamber music playing to its pinnacle with the guidance of Sotto Voce!
~Derek Fenstermacher, tubist, University of Alabama Tuba Quartet
The Symposium sextet
Each member of Sotto Voce brings different perspectives and ideas about music than the other three, and the students benefit greatly from it. It was a great experience learning from each of them.
~Matthew Mireles, first euphonium, University of Alabama Tuba Quartet
Sotto Voce member Nat McIntosh and the University of North Texas Quartet.
I heard about the symposium a week prior and had no idea what I was in store for. I would like to think that my symposium experience was unique in that I was not a member of an up and running quartet. However, the chamber ensemble that I became a part of afforded me opportunities to negotiate musical nuances as a collaborative endeavor. The daily seminars helped me to remodel and expand my approaches to warm-ups, arranging, jazz, improv, practice routine, and self-marketing; ultimately maximizing the efficiency and consistency of complete music making. I had an amazing time all week that led me to two questions. Why didn’t I know about this before and who do I want to be in a quartet with?
~Immanuel Claude Shuford, tuba performance major, University of Atlanta
The 2008 Sotto Voce Symposium was a time like no other where we could really bring our chamber music skills to another level. Our group, combined with the influence and musical genius of the Sotto Voce quartet, was able to perform with much more grace and expression on the stage. Thank you Sotto Voce!
~Patrick Nyren, Masters euphonium performance student, University of North Texas
The Sotto Voce Symposium was one of the best workshops I have ever attended. The Sotto Voce quartet is an exciting group to listen to as well as study with. Not only were the attendees treated to concerts of great music, we were also able to get to know the members of the group on a more personal level. The group coached our chamber ensemble every day and brought new and refreshing ideas to our repertoire and performances. I would recommend this symposium to anyone who is looking to advance their chamber music skills. Not only are the members of Sotto Voce extremely talented musicians, they are great people, which in my opinion is a winning combination.
~Donald Bruce, euphonium performance major, University of North Texas