2005 Great Plains Regional Tuba-Euphonium Conference Wrap-Up
Louis Young and Denis Winter, Conference Co-hosts
Article written by Louis Young
Well over 200 people including professional and amateur musicians and high school and college students attended the Great Plains Regional Tuba Euphonium Conference held on April 28–30, 2005 at The University of Central Arkansas in Conway, Arkansas. The three-day event was a diverse mixture of exciting events including solo recitals, tuba-euphonium ensemble concerts, faculty clinics, masterclasses, a quartet competition, exhibits, and large ensemble performances. Several states were represented including Arkansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Tennessee, Louisiana, Texas, Indiana, Wisconsin, and others. Exhibits included Woodwind and Brasswind, Saied Music, Kenneth Friedrich, The Band Museum, Sam Gnagey, and Tuba- Euphonium Press.
Four-Star Brass (United States Air Force Band of Mid-America) in performance
Four Star Brass after the performance
Thursday, April 28 Along with a “Breathing Gym” clinic led by Jonathan Whitaker of Henderson State University in Arkadelphia, Arkansas, the first day of the conference was filled with five outstanding performances. The University of Central Arkansas’ own Pinnacle Brass Quintet opened the conference with music of varying styles: from a contemporary arrangement of The Star Spangled Banner to two pieces composed by resident composers at the University of Central Arkansas, Department of Music: Troy Helm and Paul Dickinson. Two movements from Blechbläsersextett es-moll op. 30 by Oskar Böhme provided the centerpiece for the concert.
Brian Bowman and John Stevens at the reception
Hank Feldman taking a much-needed timeout
Under the direction of Andy Anders, the Arkansas Tech University Tuba Euphonium Ensemble performed a mixture of original full ensemble pieces as well as some quartet arrangements. 4- Star Brass, the Air Force Band of Mid-America’s newest small ensemble of tuba, euphonium and percussion, made an appearance and delighted listeners with their own original arrangements and compositions. After the dinner break the evening concert began with the University of Central Arkansas Tuba Euphonium Ensemble and The Bel Canto Quartet—made up of UCA students— presenting an eclectic concert of original tubaeuphonium ensemble compositions, arrangements, popular music and jazz works. The melodious strains of Scott Watson’s tuba playing during his solo recital on such pieces as Suite Marine by Jean-Michel DeFaye and Elegy by John Stevens were the perfect ending to the first day.
Friday, April 29 The tremendous downpour of rain in the morning did nothing to dampen the quality of the second day’s performances and activities! The second faculty clinic of the conference entitled “The Cimbasso: Why bother? & Confessions of a Hacksaw Murderer” was presented by Sam Gnagey, principal tuba with the Fort Wayne Philharmonic Orchestra. Despite the early hour, the clinic was very entertaining and well attended. Kevin Sanders from The University of Arkansas-Fort Smith and Ed Owen from Arkansas State University presented a joint morning recital ably accompanied on piano by Lauren Schack Clark. In addition to three other interesting works, Ed Owen performed a little known work by Jan Koetsier entitled Unterkagner Landler. Kevin Sanders’ performance included one of the conference’s two performances of John Lennon and Paul McCartney’s Blackbird. After lunch, the Texas State Tuba-Euphonium Ensemble under the direction of Raul I. Rodriguez produced a breadth and depth of sound that was rivaled only by the adeptness with which they performed their very exciting program of original works and arrangements.
John Stevens rehearsing the Arkansas All-Star Honors Tuba-Euphonium Ensemble
|The quartet competition followed immediately with five quartets participating. Quartets were given the choice of what they wanted to play for the competition and were rated on that choice as well as how well they performed it. The competition was open to the public and was judged by Steven Mead and Kenneth Friedrich. Third place went to Bel Canto from the University of Central Arkansas with their performance of two movements from Frank Lynn Payne’s Quartet for Tubas. Bel Canto members include Josh Morrison, Matthew Pickle, Robert Meadows, and Ariel Marshall. The first place and second place winners were both from The University of Missouri-Kansas City. The second prize in the amount of $150 went to Critical Mass who performed “Rest, Sweet Nymphs” from English Madrigal Suite by Francis Pilkington arranged by Mike Forbes and Cosmic Voyage also by Mike Forbes. The members of the quartet were Yukiko Reynolds, Nate Gay, Patrick Hauber, and Shayne Coats. First prize in the amount of $250 went to the unnamed quartet whose members included Michael McLean, Kami Farrie, Megan Evans, and Joseph Felton. They performed Locus Iste by Anton Bruckner arranged by David Sabourin and Tubamobile by Thom Ritter George. As the first place winners they were invited to perform the next day as a prelude to the afternoon faculty recital. The other two quartets entered in the competition were from Texas State University-San Marcos and Henderson State University from Arkadelphia, Arkansas.
Kenneth Friedrich at the exhibits
Henderson State University’s Tuba- Euphonium Ensemble under the direction of Jonathan Whitaker rounded out the pre-dinner activities with an ensemble recital of several works including Adagio for Strings by Samuel Barber arranged by Allyn Lindsey and Jonathan Sass’ Meltdown.
Steven Mead and Brian Bowman with the UCA Wind Ensemble
Steven Mead, the day after enjoying some Arkansas fishin’
|The final event of the day was a shared tuba recital given by Thomas Stein, John Stevens, and Daniel Perantoni. Stein’s portion included some virtuosic playing of the Trygve Madsen Sonata and a guest appearance of Lee Harrelson on euphonium. John Stevens gave us the second rendition of Blackbird and also included a guest appearance by Demondrae Thurman performing Cousins by Herbert L. Clarke. Stevens performed beautifully on an arrangement of the Andante from Rachmaninoff’s Sonata in G Minor for Violoncello and Piano. Perantoni presented a refined musical offering of his arrangement of Handel’s Sonata No. 3 in F Major. Perantoni was joined on stage by the ITEC Tuba Quartet (Gail Robertson and Kelly Thomas on euphonium and Mike Dunn and Joe Skillen on tuba) and performed Three Ludes for Solo Tuba and Tuba Quartet by Robert Jager. R. Winston Morris did a fine job of conducting the group. The recital ended with a duet performance of Danny Boy with John Stevens and Dan Perantoni. If this recital was all there was to the conference it would have been well worth it! But there was one more day to go….
Saturday, April 30 As the high school students who were to participate in the Arkansas High School Honors Tuba-Euphonium Ensemble began to gather at the registration table in the morning, I began to get a sense that this day was going to be special, and indeed it was. Whether it was Ed Owen’s “Effective Practice Techniques” clinic or the rousing performance of Russell Morris and the Natural State Brass Band, or John Mueller’s “Euphonium/ Trombone Doubling” clinic, the morning was full of intriguing activities. The audience was very pleased with the wide variety of musical styles offered by the Natural State Brass Band including David Stern’s fantastic performance of the first movement of Philip Sparke’s Euphonium Concerto. The band concluded their performance with Gaelforce by Peter Graham, a real tour de force in the brass band repertoire.
The afternoon brought with it a shared recital between Raul Rodriguez on tuba and Karl Krause on euphonium. Pieces like James Grant’s Just A Thought and Endorphins, David Gillingham’s Blue Lake Fantasies, and Martin Ellerby’s Euphonium Concerto combined to create a thoroughly interesting and delightful program. Steven Mead presented a clinic entitled simply “Simple Thoughts, Beautiful Music” which was followed by a masterclass in which he worked with several students in attendance at the conference. The University of Missouri-Kansas City Tuba- Euphonium Ensemble’s performance in the late afternoon was quite impressive indeed with Ray Dempsey’s Now Hear This! and an arrangement of the “Bacchanale” from Sampson and Delila by Camille Saint-Saens.
Grand Gala Finale Concert! The Grand Gala Finale Concert was the culmination of the entire week. The Arkansas All-Star Honors Tuba- Euphonium Ensemble featured high school students representing the best of the best from all over the state of Arkansas. They performed first under the direction of conductors Ricky Brooks, Director of Bands at the University of Central Arkansas, and John Stevens, well known tuba/euphonium composer, arranger, and performer. The program included among others Fanfare for a Friend by John Stevens and Sonata No. 2 by Johann Pezel transcribed by John Stevens
Natural State Brass Band in Concert
Symphonia conducted by R. Winston Morris, Scott Watson, and John Stevens presented the next leg of the concert. One of the highlights was Jerry Young’s soulful rendition of John Stevens’s arrangement of “The Old Rugged Cross” dedicated to Jerry’s parents who were in the audience. The appreciative audience very warmly received the world premiere performance of UCA professor/ composer Troy Helm’s Centipede, an attractive new work for tuba-euphonium ensemble which is bound to be performed often. Gail Robertson was featured in her arrangement of Psychedelic Dances. Symphonia closed their portion of the program with Jesse Chavez’s GROOVE.
Woodwind and Brasswind Exhibit
The climax of the evening was the world-class euphonium virtuosic performing of Steven Mead. First he played the Trombone Concerto by Derek Bourgeois accompanied by UCA accompanist Krishna Thiagarajan. He also performed several pieces with The University of Central Arkansas Wind Ensemble under the direction of Dr. Ricky Brooks and Dr. Louis Young. Gypsy Airs, and Pantomime were big hits, but the encore was simply amazing: Steven Mead was joined on stage by Brian Bowman performing Figaro in Stereo complete with some theatrical antics by both players. What a fun way to end such a grand night of music making!
Steven Mead, Brian Bowman, Louis Young and Ricky Brooks during the Grand Gala Finale Concert
The nature of a conference can make it difficult to spend time talking with friends, so the reception that followed was not only a chance to enjoy some great food but also an opportunity to spend some time catching up with old friends and making new ones. I want to thank all of the faculty, performers, clinicians, exhibitors, students and others who attended whose efforts helped to make the Great Plains Regional Tuba Euphonium Conference a huge success. It could not have been done without you. It is a huge undertaking to host a conference but it is so very rewarding in the end when the focus has been on people and music. I would have it no other way!