ITEC 2006: The Pedagogy of Great Musicianship—in Review
The ITEA Journal thanks those who agreed to review ITEC sessions. Most accepted the task months to weeks before ITEC, and some were gracious to fill in, at times, “last minute” in order to facilitate another’s schedule conflict.
Some reviews are still “in progress” and hopefully will soon be submitted and added to this article on ITEAonline.org. In addition, anyone who would like to submit a CD of photos from ITEC 2006—please do so! Also, great appreciation is extended to Alan Hood (trumpet, Denver Brass) who dedicated a great amount of time as our ITEC photographer.
~Jason Roland Smith (ITEA Journal Editor, firstname.lastname@example.org; 740.593.1620)
|2006 ITEC Program Booklet (2.1 MB PDF)
|Thursday, June 29
|2006 ITEC Photo Album
FRIDAY, JUNE 30
9:00 p.m. Dixieland Jazz: A Rewarding Opportunity for Tubists presented by Steven Call
“Dixieland Jazz: A Rewarding Opportunity for Tubists” was a clinic designed for those of us who have very little or no experience playing Dixieland music. The goal of the clinic was to provide an elementary understanding of the origins of Dixieland music, the structure of a Dixieland band, and how to “get started” playing tuba in such a group. The presenter for this session was Dr. Steven Call who teaches tuba, euphonium, and jazz studies at Brigham Young University.
Dr. Call was joined on stage by a band made up of former students and local musicians. The band consisted of trombone, trumpet, clarinet, banjo, tuba, drums, and piano. Dr. Call played the piano while a former student of his played tuba. To start the clinic, the band played Royal Garden Blues. During the solo section, Dr. Call left the piano to play a solo on tuba. Given the early start time of the clinic, this was a great way to get the audience’s attention.
After playing, Dr. Call talked about the origins and structure of Dixieland. He showed us how Dixieland is linked to the American Civil War Brass Bands. The song Maryland, My Maryland or O Christmas Tree was used as an example. The band played the song in a traditional 3/4 march style. Then the band played it in a cut time military march, and finally a swing march in 4. Dr. Call then talked about a “clave rhythm” that goes along with the swing march. He said this underlying rhythm is important for playing in the Dixieland style. To help understand this rhythmic concept, Dr. Call had the audience clap the rhythm. While the audience clapped, the band played the song in the swing march style.
The structure of a Dixieland band was discussed next. We were told that a band is broken up into the front line and the back line. The front line consists of the primary melodic voices and the back line provides harmonic and rhythmic foundations. He said the front line structure is polyphonic and has elements of a march. Typically the voices in the front line would play melody, counter melody, and an obbligato figure. He further demonstrated this idea by showing the same structure in an example that most people would know, the last strain of Stars and Striped Forever. I think using an example from a non-Dixieland piece really helped to clarify how the structure of the front line works. Next, Dr. Call talked about different combinations that could be used to create the back line. In addition, he showed us how the tuba can use the “clave rhythm” to help create the bass line. This involves putting a note on beat four of every other measure. Dr. Call describes this technique as putting a note in the hole of the “Big Four.”
The rest of the clinic was dedicated to learning basic ways to create bass lines and ideas on how to practice these skills. Dr. Call had two people come up and play the bass line while the band played Bill Bailey. He had the less experienced of the two demonstrate the very basics in creating the bass line. Using written out bass lines, we could see the progression from basic lines to more advanced ones. In the final section of the clinic, Dr. Call discussed ways and exercises to practice learning bass lines and how to get start playing with bands. To end the session, the band played a medley of Bourbon Street Parade and Basin Street Blues.
This session was well presented and very entertaining. Dr. Call did a great job at presenting the material in a way that someone could leave the clinic, go home, and start playing Dixieland music with just a minimal amount of practice time. For anyone who wants to start playing in Dixieland bands but does not know how. This was the perfect session to get started.
~Scott Roeder, DMA student, University of Wisconsin-Madison
10:00 a.m. Great Musicianship Series: Realizing Your Sonic DNA presented by Roger Bobo & Steven Mead
“How we put together our personal and technical aspects and realize our individual and unique musicality”
I was only too happy to have the opportunity to review this discussion on musicianship, as it featured two legends of our profession in Roger Bobo and Steven Mead. The chance to hear from these two individuals on our musical DNA was bound to be interesting, and now, days after the event, I find myself now trying to internalize their words.
Roger Bobo began the discussion by inviting the audience to close their eyes and visualize a performance of the Schumann Adagio and Allegro, first on horn, then on cello, then on the tuba. In each performance, he told the audience to imagine that the performer was a master of that instrument. After the visualization of each scene, he polled the audience as to which performance they preferred. Surprisingly, about 60% of the audience preferred hearing this work on the cello, even though Schumann originally composed it for the horn!
While some of the audience told Mr. Bobo that the reason they preferred it on cello was because of its resonance and mellowness, many who had chosen the cello indicated that a master of the cello would perform this with a level of excellence that might not be matched on the horn or the tuba. With further questioning from Mr. Bobo, the audience eventually admitted that these thoughts were the result of our perceptions of the cello—we simply expect a level of excellence from the cello that we do not expect on other instruments.
At this, Mr. Bobo began to elaborate on the idea that DNA is something we inherit, and, thus, the title of this discussion was perhaps not fitting to what he felt. As he said, “The aspects of our musicianship are fifty percent environmental, and fifty percent inherited,” and, thus, our musical DNA, unlike our genetic DNA, is changeable. As he would also point out, the fact that we can improve both the parts of the body that make music (tongue, lips, air, fingers, etc.) as well as the tools of our music (tone, etc.) means that we can have a huge impact in changing that variable 50% of our musical DNA.
The end result, according to Mr. Bobo, is that instead of remaining in the status quo of those who have never attempted to change their musical DNA, one should find their own way in the musical world and have the courage to perform as they want. In an audition, for example, an auditionee can either play to what they think the judges want, or, as Mr. Bobo said, “play as you play.” Embracing this uniqueness of our musical DNA would give us more of those “magical musical moments,” and less of those “bad habits that we try to break for the next 100 years.”
Steven Mead took a different but no less effective approach when he tackled the subject. Like Mr. Bobo, he approached the idea from the angle that, while we can indeed change the direction of our musical progress (and thus, our musical DNA), we do have those things in our musical memory that have been inherited. Like our childhood, our earliest musical memories generally range from the time of life between 6 and 10 years old. From an analysis of these memories from these ages, we can better understand why we approach music in the way we do. To do this, he said, we should ask ourselves some questions about these formative years in our musical existence, like:
What did you see? What did you hear? What were your influences? Who were your influences? A teacher? A parent? How caring was your earliest music teacher? Did that person lead by example? Did they sing with you at all? Did you listen to music?
In unique fashion, Steve discussed both the changeable and unchangeable parts of our musical DNA. As he said, in the same way that our genetic DNA is made of four basic components, four central ideas govern our musical DNA. Using the letters ITEC, Steve proposed four aspects of our musical DNA that we must consider to fully understand it: I-Information, T-Training, E-Experiences, and C-Consistency.
Beginning with E, Steve said that we must first acknowledge and reconcile with our past Experiences. The first step in this might be to think about our past teachers and try to appreciate their work, whether they failed us in that work or not. Additionally, it is good to think about where we learned our musical fears and problem solving abilities. Only through understanding these things, in addition to fully realizing what musical moments created life-changing experiences, can we fix the problems that we bear as a result of our past musical experiences.
From this, Steve discussed the T—our musical Training. It was interesting to reflect on his questions: How did you practice? What did you practice? Are you grateful for your past teachers? The central idea with training was that, like our experiences, what we do musically is the result of what and how we learned.
The I section focused on the Information that we received to form our musical ideas. First and foremost, as he said, times have changed dramatically, and, thus, the access to information today, whether via recordings or the Internet, has exploded. Nevertheless, when looking at the information we had received in our past, we could better understand the present state of our musicality. Steve continued, “What did you listen to? Did you listen for enjoyment or for study?” These were certainly interesting questions in understanding why we are the musicians we are today.
Unlike the I, T, and E portions of Steve’s discussion, which focused on understanding the past, the C— Consistency—looked more at the present and future of our musical DNA. It was fitting that this would appear after a more accurate picture of our past was formed. In this portion of the discussion, Steve asked even more questions, focusing on how consistent we are in our musicianship, as well as other things that surround it: reliability, punctuality, honesty, and dependability. In a rather convicting tone (or was that just me?), Steve also pointed out that consistency is the idea behind practice. As he said, “If you truly love to practice, then there is no reason why you take days and weeks off from doing so.” Consistency, as he had pointed out, formed the most changeable part of our DNA.
Following these interesting teachings, both Mr. Bobo and Mr. Mead opened the floor to questions. Perhaps the most interesting question was one that asked how we, as musicians, could cultivate a love of practice. Roger’s response said that it was important to first form a love of music, and then to have musical heroes that we desire to be like. Along the same idea, Steve said that it was important that much of the music you play is beautiful. When combined with a balanced diet of music that was both technical in nature along with beautiful in effect, this could cultivate both the love of music and practice.
It was indeed a pleasure to hear these words on our musical DNA, as their ideas are worth exploring.
~Jason D. Ham, Euphonium Soloist & Brass Clinician, Yamaha Performing Artist
11:00 a.m. Exploring New Territories through Chamber Music: performances by Balance Duo, Mike Forbes, and Mainspring
Pamela and Matt Murchison in performance
What better way to end the last afternoon of ITEC 2006 than with a chamber music tag-team performance between Matthew Murchison, Mike Forbes, and Marty Erickson? Murchison and his ensemble known as Mainspring (comprised of euphonium, flute, guitar, tuba, drum kit, and occasional didgeridoo) set the stage with an elaborate presentation of an assortment of musical flavors. Murchison’s mirthful demeanor guided the audience from piece to piece as he and Mainspring played a fusion of Irish jigs and reels, scalar melodies of Polynesian/Indonesian influence, Latin tango, Jamaican reggae, and German polka. Though Murchison warned the audience that they would “be disappointed because the euphonium is incapable of rocking,” all was not lost as the flute (played by Pamela Murchison) and guitar (played by the “Tri-State Connect Four Champion”) made up for the lack of euphonium prowess, which was otherwise proven to be nothing but fantastic playing on the part of Murchison. The last piece of the first act of this chamber music recital was Mainspring’s most exciting and audience-friendly, incorporating well known tunes like Yellow Rose, Bonanza, Flight of the Bumble Bee, and the Theme from Scooby-Doo into a full blown polka. It was an interesting closer to say the least. Mainspring’s performance can be best described as musically clever, entertaining, exciting, and crowd-pleasing.
Upon his passing in April of this year in Munich, shortly after his 95th birthday, Jan Koetsier was a highly regarded and dignified composer of reputable works written for brass instruments. His compositions for tuba are well known among the tuba scene, most especially through his Sonatine, Op. 57, Concertino, Op. 77, and Wolkenschatten, Op. 136. But, Koetsier and his music were brought to a new light when Mike Forbes presented two of Koetsier’s lesser-known works for solo tuba to a most receptive audience. Forbes opened his performance with three movements from Koetsier’s eight-movement work for tuba and soprano voice entitled Galgenlieder, Op. 129. The piece was effectively performed as the theatrical stage presence of the vocalist (Melissa Brooks-Greene) adeptly mimicked the story behind the German text. Forbes’ ability to lightly articulate the musical passages in the style of the soprano additionally complemented Brooks-Greene extremely well. His sensitivity to balance between tuba and vocalist was expressed in his melodic lines that were delicately brought to the fore when called, as well as played in a more sotto voce style to supplement the singer. Complementary to the tuba and soprano duet, Forbes’ arrangement of Falstaffiade, Op. 134b— originally written for four horns and tuba soloist and arranged for this occasion by Forbes for four euphoniums and tuba—provided an entirely different array of sounds. The piece presented the task of versatility in its demand for extreme high and low range playing on the part of the solo tuba player, which was excellently demonstrated by Forbes. Koetsier’s Falstaffiade offered lots of character through the musical interaction between the soloist and the euphonium quartet (performed by Sotto Voce’s Demondrae Thurman, Patrick Schulz, Nat McIntosh, and ITEC 2006 Artist Solo Euphonium Competition winner Jamie Lipton). The piece created a multitude of different timbres and colors by way of mutes, tessitura, and contrasting dynamics and will assuredly find its way into mainstream performance for the solo tubist.
Mike Forbes & Melissa Brooks-Greene performing Koetsier’s Galgenlieder
To close the afternoon chamber music recital, the husband and wife duo (Marty Erickson and Alison Shaw) known as Balance took the stage in their matching lavender and black attire. Beginning their program with an arrangement of Astor Piazzolla’s “Bordel 1900” from L’Histoire du Tango, listening ears were immediately attuned to the unique sound and presence of the duo. “Bordel 1900,” originally written for flute and guitar, was completely different than anything previously performed at the conference due to the distinctive quality of sound and blend that these two performers were able to concurrently achieve on tuba and marimba. Following the tango, Balance wrapped up their set and the recital with two Irish pieces, Hill Suite and O’Carolan’s Draught. The Irish traditional Hill Suite, customarily played on fiddle, was well programmed, as it allowed both performers to put on a clinic in technical proficiency on their instruments. Erickson’s ability to cleanly articulate the quickest of musical lines matched Shaw’s five-octave aerobic exercise on the marimba well. In contrast to the fast moving wrists and fingers of the Irish violin tune, O’Carolan’s Draught commenced with fluid melody weaving in and out of the tuba and marimba. The piece was pleasant and relaxing, and Mr. Erickson’s sound was sensitive and silky smooth—it was the perfect way to end the recital.
~Brent M. Harvey, DMA student, University of North Carolina at Greensboro
12:00 p.m. Brass for Every City presented by Kathy Brantigan
Those who attended both of the Denver Brass concerts during the conference were witness to the range and versatility of this very polished ensemble. Everything from Gregson and Drew Fennell to bagpipes and Irish dancers! The Tuesday evening concert also drew a large audience of local patrons. When I saw and heard the crowd’s enthusiasm and pride in “their” group, it was clear that the Denver Brass is a well-established local star. How did this come about? Kathy Aylsworth Brantigan, conference host and Executive Director of the Denver Brass, presented a thorough (though slightly time-shortened) overview of the process of establishing a brass ensemble with a local focus.
She began with two main premises. First, brass music is compelling. People who won’t listen to “classical” music will listen to a brass ensemble. Second, touring is difficult and draining. Why do it if you don’t have to? From that spark, Ms. Brantigan gave us the “Rubank Elementary Method” of developing, producing, and selling the product known as the Denver Brass.
At first I was a bit surprised by her use of terms like “product,” “marketing,” and “budget.” She is unapologetic about the fact that this is a business, pure and simple. Although it is an artistic endeavor, it must be run efficiently. A group like this will be in competition with the usual large groups like orchestra, ballet, or light opera. However, being smaller (5 to 14 members) gives brass more flexibility and a smaller budget.
Where do you start? The answer is: with a concept of the product. What image will people have when they hear the name of the group? Unfortunately, spending time at the alehouse is not the image we want to convey. Things like “elegant and fun” will be images more likely to draw patrons and donors to your concerts. A great concept needs great players. When choosing people to play with, 50% is talent and 50% is “good people,” i.e. team players with low ego quotients. It’s also important to have brutal quality control—musicians must be professional!
She then went on to marketing—the key to success. Marketing supports your image and gives your name and logo longevity. It also gets people off the couch and away from the TV. Her strategic marketing plan is year-round. Fall is for marketing the season, and spring is for planning the next. Alongside marketing comes advertising. Some of the good suggestions were to first look at other print ads to see what is appealing. Then, steal those ideas! The use of pictures, especially faces, in ads increases the chance that people will remember. Be sure to dedicate 10 to 25% of your budget to advertising.
At this point I realized that organization was a critical component of this plan. She stressed that operating as a real business was essential. Get paid staff to do the office work. Use professionals, like graphic artists, to make your ads rather than trying to do it yourself. After all, you are the professional musician!
Another organizational point was keeping track of everything—mailing lists, grants, concert planning, donors, thank yous, etc. Becoming a non-profit is important for the ability to write grants. The executive director will be a focal point of the organization. Be sure the ED is not just a business person but passionate about what you do. Ms. Brantigan, as ED of the Denver Brass, is just such a person.
With this organization getting bigger and more complex, a steady source of income is needed. I know that fundraising is one of the least favorite activities for a musician but one of the most necessary. The Denver Brass strives to cultivate individual donors rather than rely on fundraisers. Where the usual ratio is 25% tickets and 75% fundraisers, the DB raises 69% of its budget with donations and ticket sales. Be sure the fundraisers you do are fun and easy (this is where the alehouse or brewpub comes in).
One critical point Ms. Brantigan made was that tickets must cost enough so that the audience feels it is getting something “special.” If concerts are free or low cost, it hurts your image. Ms. Brantigan was very clear that all of their success didn’t happen overnight. She encouraged everyone to start small and grow with your success. Their budget has grown from about $12,000 in 1981 to more than $500,000 today. One of the reasons for their success was to keep the community’s needs first, by designing their programming to be both musically rewarding and entertaining.
If all this sounds like a lot of work, it is. People who work this hard need to play hard as well. Part of the organizational plan is, well, partying. Creative people need to have time to recreate and bounce ideas off of one another, and it is included in the plan. Although much of the information Ms. Brantigan presented was “good business” and things I had heard before, her outstanding packaging and presentation gave everyone present a template for establishing a successful brass ensemble in their local area. Judging by the smooth operation of this year’s conference and the high quality of the Denver Brass, she knows how to run things.
I want to nominate Kathy Brantigan for president of the United States.
~Fred Tempas, Music Instructor, Arcata School District, California
1:00 p.m. Texas A&M University-Kingsville Tuba-Euphonium Ensemble conducted by Yutaka Kono
On the last day of the 2006 ITEC, the Tuba-Euphonium Ensemble from Texas A&M University-Kingsville took the Gates Concert Hall stage. Led by Dr. Yutaka Kono, the five-member ensemble (three euphoniums and two tubas) performed four well-prepared pieces in front of an audience that had witnessed some of the world’s best tuba/euphonium performers over a span of five days. This was the first ITEC appearance for a tuba-euphonium ensemble from Texas A&M-Kingsville, and they performed admirably. Their musicianship and overall balance was very good. They were attentive to Dr. Kono’s conducting as well as sensitive to the other players in the ensemble.
The first selection, “Allegro” from Eine Kleine Nachtmusik was energetic and spirited. The blend was well balanced, and the ensemble was attentive to changes in style and dynamics. The group smoothly passed through the different sections and kept the rhythmic motor going throughout. In Father, Forgive Them, the haunting melody was passed around the ensemble. Each of the soloists played with a nice lyrical sound closely matching the style of the previous presentation. The solemn mood of the piece was clearly projected and the overall effect came off well. The soloists for this piece were Cody Bauman and Noe Cepeda on euphonium, and Lizardo Hinajosa and Joe Rodriguez on tuba.
The third selection, Catch, was the more contemporary sounding piece on the program. The ensemble maintained their good blend and musicianship, but the cohesiveness they had on the first two pieces wasn’t as strong on this selection, however still demonstrated excellent fundamentals. In the fourth and final piece the ensemble pulled out the stops. The Melody Shop represents a substantial challenge, and the ensemble performed very well. We all know this work and are aware of the potential hazards it can present. The ensemble kept good time, the march-style motor clicked onward as the ensemble performed all those sixteenth notes cleanly and with energetic fervor. The ensemble continued to play with good balance whether presenting the melody or working away at the sixteenth note passages. What a great finish! Congratulations to Dr. Kono’s party of five.
This group, although small, made a very respectable showing at their first ITEC. They set a great example to those of us who may not have a large or mature tuba/euphonium studio. ITEC is for everyone, and even if we only have five, three, two, or just one student to bring, we should do our best to get them to ITEC. We all benefit from the experience. This performance was sponsored in part by Southern Music Company.
~Dr. Janet Tracy, Trinity University
1:30 p.m. ITEA Presentation of the 2006 Harvey Phillips Award for Excellence in Composition and the 2006 Roger Bobo Award for Excellence in Recording
On Friday at 1:30pm, ITEA presented the inaugural awards ceremony for both the Roger Bobo Awards for Excellence in Recording and the Harvey G. Phillips Awards for Excellence in Composition. These contests are an on-going project of the association, with these first awards going to recordings and compositions released or composed between the years of 2003–2005.
ITEA President Dennis AsKew gave the opening welcome, stating how honored ITEA was to have both Mr. Bobo and Mr. Phillips in attendance at this first awards ceremony. AsKew then introduced Scott Watson, Director of the Roger Bobo Awards who thanked not only his Judging Panel Chairs and Judges, but also the association for its financial support of these awards, stating that it will indeed be a high honor to receive both a “Bobo” in Recording or a Phillips Award for Composition, and that Mr. Bobo’s and Mr. Phillips’ careers are an inspiration to all of us.
After some inspirational words from Roger Bobo, Finalists were introduced in each category, followed by the winner. Each winner was then presented their “Bobo” by Mr. Bobo himself. The finalists and winners as announced are listed below.
CHAMBER MUSIC CATEGORY FINALISTS: Euphoniums Unlimited, Winston Morris, Director (Mark Records); Sotto Voce Quartet, Viva Voce: The Quartets of John Stevens (Summit Records); Fred Mills & the Pentabrass Quintet (Mark Masters)
Winner: Sotto Voce Quartet, “Viva Voce”, The Quartets of John Stevens, Summit Records
JAZZ/COMMERCIAL CATEGORY FINALISTS: Tom Ball Quartet, Fishleather Jacket, (Independent Release); Jon & Kent Eshelman, Life is Good (PKO Records); Jim Self, InnerPlay, (Bassethound Records); Frank Vantroyen, Hey t’ is Frank’ (Beriato Music)
Winners: Tuba: Jim Self, InnerPlay; Euphonium: Tom Ball, Fishleather Jacket
SOLO EUPHONIUM CATEGORY FINALISTS:
Steven Mead, Bella Italia (Bocchino Music); Demondre Thurman, Soliloquies (Summit Records); Stevens Mead, Locomotion (Bocchino Music)
Winner: Steven Mead, Locomotion
SOLO TUBA CATEGORY FINALISTS:
Kyle Turner, Expressions: The Heart of the Tuba (MSR Classics); Skip Gray, Tuba Europa (Mark Records); David Zerkel, American Music for Tuba (Mark Records)
Winner: David Zerkel, American Music for Tuba
Watson then introduced Kevin Wass, Director of the Harvey G. Phillips Awards for Excellence in Composition, who thanked his Judging Panel Chairs and Judges. Wass then introduced Harvey G. Phillips who gave a wonderful speech on how he came to be such a champion of new music for the tuba, including Vincent Persichetti’s admonishment and challenge to Mr. Phillips as a student at Julliard of “who do you think will do something about it? You have to!”
Finalists and Winners were then announced, with Phillips Awards being presented by Mr. Phillips to each winner. Finalists and winners in the Harvey G. Phillips Awards for Excellence in Composition were:
TUBA IN A SOLO ROLE FINALISTS:
Tapestries by Michael Forbes
Sonata by Grant Harville
Winner: Tapestries by Michael Forbes
TUBA AS FEATURED INSTRUMENT IN CHAMBER MUSIC FINALISTS:
Tapestries by Michael Forbes (brass quintet version)
Quartet for the End of Music by Chappell Kingsland
Winner: Quartet for the End of Music by Chappell Kingsland
TUBA FEATURED IN JAZZ/ROCK/FUSION FINALISTS:
Lights of Loveland by Stefan Kac
De Tu-De-Ke-Tu Blues by Michel Pieters
Koraal by Michel Pieters
Winner: Lights of Loveland by Stefan Kac
EUPHONIUM IN SOLO ROLE FINALISTS:
A Walk in the Woods by Jiro Censhu
Concerto for Euphonium by Allen Feinstein
Gaelic Sonata by Duncan MacMillan
Winner: Concerto for Euphonium by Allen Feinstein
EUPHONIUM AS FEATURED INSTRUMENT IN CHAMBER MUSIC FINALISTS:
Tuba Quartet No. 2 by Nicholas Gonzalez
Conversations by Barbara York
Winner: Conversations by Barbara York
EUPHONIUM FEATURED IN JAZZ/ROCK/FUSION FINALISTS:
Come to Me by Jeffrey S. Cottrell
Got It Now by Jeffrey S. Cottrell
Winner: Got it Now by Jeffrey S. Cottrell
This first awards ceremony was full of anticipation, inspiration, and emotion by all involved. Hopefully even more deserving recordings and compositions will be nominated for the next Bobo and Phillips Awards, slated to be awarded at the 2008 ITEC in Cincinnati, Ohio (USA). ITEA thanks the following contest chairs and judges:
Bobo Awards: Fritz Kaenzig (Chair), Gail Robertson (Chair), Denis Winter (Chair), Jeff Hoddapp (Chair), Tom Ashworth, Soren Hermansson, Jay Hunsberger, Paul Weikle, Steven Mead, Pedro Castano
Phillips Awards: Daniel Perantoni (Chair), Adam Frey (Chair), Charles Villarubia (Chair), Oystein Baadsvik, Don Freund, Thomas Reudi, Demondre Thurman, Charles Guy, David Gluck
~Scott Watson, University of Kansas
2:00 p.m. Øystein Baadsvik & Steven Mead in Concert
Øystein Baadsvik & Steven Mead
If you were in Denver for ITEC 2006 and did not attend the Mead/Baadsvik recital, I certainly hope that you have a good excuse! For me, this may have been the highlight of the conference, as both Mr. Mead and Mr. Baadsvik’s performances demonstrated that the artistry that we have come to expect from more established instruments is also alive and well in the tuba and euphonium family. Without question, the well thought-out programming of the recital made for a diverse performance experience.
Steven Mead began his portion of the recital with Pete Meechan’s Requiem Paraphrase, based on themes from Mozart’s Requiem. Composed for Steve’s recent CD, Brassin’ Mozart 2006, it was a great way to start the recital, if for nothing more than the fact that this work requires a great deal of excellent sound to make the composition work well. Steve undoubtedly has this. Joined by Alison Shaw and Mike Marlier on vibraphone and marimba, along with Caryl Conger on Piano, Steve’s performance of Meechan’s work was a nice diversion from the norm of seeing the euphonium perform with the piano only.
Undoubtedly, the highlight of Steve’s performance was the three movements of Friedrich Gulda’s Cello Concerto for cello and winds (“Overture,” “Idylle,” and “Finale Alla Marcia”). Recorded on the new CD Euphonium Virtuoso, this composition is certainly one of the most bizarre works that I have heard, dashing between styles that are near opposites. Most definitely a work worth hearing in any setting, Gulda’s Cello Concerto will certainly live in my memory as a fantastic addition to the euphonium repertoire. In addition to the previously mentioned percussionists, Steve was joined in performance by Alan Joseph, an excellent guitarist who is based out of the Denver area. Like the Requiem Paraphrase, this setting of the Gulda provided an interesting picture of where the euphonium is going in terms of new accompaniment ensembles.
Øystein Baadsvik’s performance undoubtedly proved why he has taken the tuba to a new level of performance. Oftentimes, when listening to tuba players, I am intensely aware that the work the performer is attempting was not written for the tuba. While not one of the works in Øystein’s performance was original tuba literature, in listening to his approach to each composition, you would have never known this if you weren’t paying attention.
I was delighted to see that Øystein had programmed Astor Piazzola’s Invierno Porteño, as I have been a fan of his music ever since I encountered it in college. Piazzola’s music should most definitely be heard at conferences such as this, as the sounds of his compositions always give a different dimension to the works heard at such events. Bartok’s Dance Suite had a similar effect, also demonstrating Øystein’s unbelievable versatility. In a great display of skill, Øystein revealed that he is a master of high range on the tuba.
After a sensitive performance of Bach’s Sonata for Flute in E-flat Major, Øystein concluded his formal recital music with another Piazzola work, the Adios Nonino, which contained difficult technical passages interrupted by tender melodies. As Piazzola’s music is so intensely emotional, I thought this was a great way to close both his recital and begin to wind down the conference overall. Nevertheless, Øystein returned to the stage to give the audience on last thrill in the exciting Gypsy Airs, complete with dancing with the tuba on stage and wooing a female RNCM student in the audience. It was nice to be so entertained in his performance.
If any one word could be used to describe both Steve and Øystein’s performance (and it is unfair to use just one), that word would undoubtedly be versatile. Not only did Steve and Øystein delight the audience with their playing, but both the new accompaniments and the entertainment value that they brought the stage were inspiring!
~Jason D. Ham, Euphonium Soloist & Brass Clinician, Yamaha Performing Artist
3:00 p.m. ITEC High School & University All-Star Ensembles in Concert, Dr. Jerry Young and John Stevens, Directors
John Stevens conducting the combined ITEA High School & University All-Star Ensembles
A highlight of ITECs is hearing the concerts by the High School and University All-Star Ensembles because they serve as a gauge to the current state of instruction across the country and the world. From the performances heard on Friday afternoon the result would indicate the standard of instruction and playing in our schools is as high as it has ever been.
The High School Ensemble started the concert under the sure-footed leadership of Dr. Jerry Young. Selected movements from Tylman Susato’s Five Dances began the performance in this well arranged setting by John Stevens, who served as the conductor of the University All-Star Ensemble. These renaissance dances were well played by the performers who provided a characteristic buoyant style with mature sounds. The next piece on the program featured two movements from Rodger Vaughan’s composition titled Winds, which was commissioned a number of years ago by Jerry. In addition to Winds, those in attendance received a special treat in hearing the first performance of what Mr. Vaughan described to the audience as a “brand new old piece.” In his new arrangement of Down by the Old Mill Stream, the group gave a nice sense of line and phrasing to this old chestnut so many of us have played in its earlier version. Ron Knoener’s arrangement of Kentucky Sunrise by Karl King was next on the program and provided the tubas a real technical workout. The ragtime rhythms of this piece served as a contrast to the final selection, which was the German march classic Under the Double Eagle masterfully set by Skip Gray. The ensemble provided a good foot lifting style to this march while keeping the passage work light throughout. What was most impressive about this performance was the degree of musical independence needed by the twelve members of this ensemble to perform a program of music consisting of music written in eight parts.
The High School Ensemble was then joined by the members of the University Ensemble and their conductor, John Stevens. Jerry took a moment to pay a brief tribute to Dietrich Unkrodt who had passed away earlier in the week and who had served as the T.U.B.A.’s (ITEA) first Vice President for International Relations. He related to the audience how fitting it was for the All-Star student ensembles to perform something to honor a colleague who “loved his students more than anything else.” John Stevens recalled what an impact Dietrich had made on him upon their first meeting, inspiring him to write Fanfare for a Friend. The combined ensembles then offered a stirring performance of this piece.
The University All-Star Ensemble continued the performance with Cacology by Ted Piltzecker, who is a New York City based vibraphonist. The most striking aspect of this considerable piece is the intricate layers, which were played with clarity throughout the group. The next piece on the program was Stevens’ own Adagio, commissioned by T.U.B.A. (ITEA) for the 1992 ITEC in Lexington, Kentucky. Inspired by Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings, this work utilizes silence to great effect and the ensemble provided some wonderful climatic moments. Although the challenges of Mike Forbes’ Cosmic Voyage were formidable, the ensemble performed the mixed meter sections with great confidence and flare. The same can be said for the numerous solo passages found in this work. Mike’s arranging skills were also demonstrated in his beautiful setting of Edward Elgar’s Nimrod, which was dedicated to Winston Morris’ years of commitment to the tuba and euphonium. The program ended as it began with a transcription by John Stevens of a work from the Renaissance period, The Earl of Oxford March, which was beautifully played with well-delineated passages throughout.
The two things that struck me after this concert were, first of all, what a great experience it must have been for these students to have the opportunity to work with two master teachers like Jerry Young and John Stevens. Secondly, following the end of the high school portion of the program, Jerry reminded the audience that many of the students on stage represent the future for our instruments and remarked, “The future is very bright.”
~Ken Kroesche, Oakland University
3:00 p.m. Play Smart, You’re Not Superman presented by Charles Brantigan
Healthy practice and performance habits are essential ingredients of a long and successful career as a musician, but what are the keys to developing such habits? How do we know what is healthy and what is not? Renowned vascular surgeon and Denver Brass tubist Charles Brantigan provided answers to these questions and many others in an informative discussion of topics such as physiology, physical conditioning, breathing, practice planning, warm-up sessions, and focal dystonia. Dr. Brantigan’s unique perspective as both a medical and music professional yielded insightful and relevant commentary geared toward increased health awareness in low brass musicians.
The main idea of Dr. Brantigan’s philosophy is simple, yet powerful: a healthy brass training regimen should be preventive in nature, utilizing an athletic approach to physical fitness, proper diet, knowledge of the physiology of brass playing, and common sense. If we eat right, exercise properly, don’t smoke, understand a little about how the body works, and plan our warm-up and practice carefully, then we can prevent many injuries and problems that could negatively impact our performance. While prevention should be our main focus, sometimes injuries do occur and medical assistance is necessary. Dr. Brantigan stressed the importance of seeking a medical professional who is understanding of the idiosyncrasies of music performance. He recommends that a music professional be present during consultations to provide practical input into the treatment process.
Several practical strategies were given regarding physical fitness, breathing, and body use. Brass playing requires healthy function of the breathing system and the body’s musculature, which can be developed through cardiovascular exercise and strength training. Dr. Brantigan suggested that all brass players develop such a fitness regimen that will positively impact both musical and personal health. In regards to breathing, one should learn about the breathing system and understand the role of the rib cage, accessory muscles, and vital capacity. While increased vital capacity is unlikely, it may be possible to increase the efficiency of breath through training. Dr. Brantigan stated that most musicians’ injuries are musculoskeletal in nature and can often be prevented or treated with proper instrument positioning (this may necessitate instrument modification), physical conditioning, and body use therapies like Alexander Technique and the Feldenkrais Method.
Also discussed were warm-up and practice planning. Dr. Brantigan proposed that a proper warm-up should always precede a playing session. A proper warm-up was defined as playing that slowly and safely increased blood circulation in the lips without over-stressing the lip muscles. An effective warm-up can reduce fatigue as well as prevent lip spasms and other injuries. The question of how much warm-up is necessary was conceded to be a subjective decision based upon each player’s judgment. In regard to practice, Dr. Brantigan advised common sense and careful planning. As unreasonable practice patterns can lead to overuse injuries, it is important to develop a schedule consisting of sessions of no more than forty-five minutes to an hour each. Shorter, more frequent practice sessions can reduce fatigue and prevent injury while allowing for increased endurance, specific planning, and goal setting. For those with busy schedules who may only be able to practice for longer blocks of time, Dr. Brantigan offered the solution of interspersing practice with other activities and resting for as much time as you play. The effectiveness and medical support for or against mental practice, another possible solution, was not discussed, but would make an excellent topic for future sessions.
The last portion of the clinic was devoted to the topic of focal dystonia, a debilitating neurological disorder that has shortened the careers of many brass instrumentalists. The definition, origins, and treatment of the disorder were discussed. According to Dr. Brantigan, focal dystonia can be defined as painless, uncontrollable muscle contractions inhibiting a performer’s ability to play, usually originating with an injury to the lips and a subsequent neurological rewiring. A brain misrepresentation is present which is analogous to an electrical wiring problem where a light switch in the kitchen turns on the front porch light instead of the kitchen light it originally operated. While focal dystonia has long been misunderstood by the medical and musical communities, progress is being made and old stigmas have been found untrue. Once thought to be a psychological problem, it is now known that this is in fact not the case. Dr. Brantigan discussed several treatment options, though admitted the effectiveness of each is limited. These options included: instrument modification, neuromuscular reeducation, body use treatments such as Alexander Technique and the Feldenkrais Method, and drug therapy using botox and certain Parkinson’s disease medications.
The rigorous demands placed on professional and student brass players alike call for the cultivation of healthy practice and training habits to prevent injury and improve performance. Dr. Charles Brantigan offered several practical suggestions and insights that, when properly applied, can do just that. He also provided valuable information regarding the physiology of brass playing and focal dystonia, a disorder that is often misunderstood due to a general lack of awareness. Given the relevance of health topics and potential benefit for all players, it is hoped that more clinics such as this will be offered at future conferences, both international and regional.
~Seth D. Fletcher, DMA student, University of North Carolina at Greensboro
6:30 p.m. Final Concert at the Red Rocks Amphitheatre featuring Bob Stewart, Øystein Baadsvik, Hank Feldman, Daniel “Sly” Slipetsky, ITEC Mass Tuba-Euphonium Ensemble conducted by Harvey Phillips, Jon Sass & Friends including Tom Ball, Marty Erickson, Yvonne Underhill (Rhythm section: Mike Marlier drums, Robin Ruscio bass, and Daniel “Sly” Slipetsky, piano.
Performers from the Red Rocks Concert
On the final afternoon of ITEC 2006, a caravan of busses fully loaded with excited tuba and euphonium players said farewell to the beautiful Newman Center for the Performing Arts in the Lamont School of Music at the University of Denver. We “rocked and rolled” our way up the Rocky Mountain Foothills to the world renowned Red Rocks Amphitheatre for our grand finale concert event.
When we arrived, many of us made our way up the long incline, a service road behind the stage area. And as soon as we stepped into the foot of amphitheatre and looked upwards, people were gasping, not so much from hauling their instruments but from seeing the raw grandeur of the two 300-foot tall sandstone monoliths, “Ship Rock” and “Creation Rock,” sharply tilting into the sky, forming an amphitheatre designed by Mother Nature herself! Exclamations were abounding. “Massive!” said James Gourlay, while a young cohort next to him proclaimed “Whoa!”
Others, who arrived and entered Red Rocks from above, were equally impressed by the splendid, also breathtaking, panoramic view of Denver in the distant horizon, serving as the perfect backdrop for the amphitheatre. In a burst of inspiration, someone yodeled out from a top the nine thousand, seat amphitheatre, “Riiii-co-laaaaa!” which soared in the air, turning heads upward and providing a good laugh for the settling ITEC attendees below.
Our event was the pre-concert for that night’s viewing of Animal House presented by the Film On The Rocks Festival. As the thousands of people steadily arrived, dozens were dressed in togas, but people seemed more bewildered by the spectacle of all our tubas and euphonium. By evening’s end, that bewilderment became enlightenment. As the sun lowered over the Rockies, the growing shadows reached eastward, and a soothing, evening breeze stirred the air. The ITEC-ers were eagerly awaiting the line-up of giants for our main event.
One of our pioneering legends of jazz tuba, Bob Stewart opened the program. His selections revealed his “funky-cool-bad-self” improvisations and baselines. Assisted on drums by Mike Marlier and on keyboards by Daniel “Sly” Slipetsky, Stewart got the crowd moving. You could see heads bobbing, fingers snapping, and toes tapping throughout the audience. Early that morning, a large group of us had attended his clinic “The Breathing Bass Line.” Witnessing his teachings up-close and personal brought greater insight to that evening’s performance. Stewart effortlessly incorporated into his playing several innovative and cutting edge techniques, such as multi-phonic harmonization, circular and pant breathing, which colorfully added to his distinctive, grooving musical style.
Øystein Baadsvik, our Norwegian superstar with a vibrant personality, followed next on the program. He dedicated his first work to Kathy Brantigan, showing his appreciation of all the wonderful work she did as host of ITEC. Then followed Cool, Baadsvik’s version of a composition written by a Swedish bass player. His last selection, Deja-Vu was based on a melody that caught Baadsvik ear. In his humorous introduction, he told the story of how he inquired with friends as to “who was the source of the melody?” To his surprise, they all said he was. Like Bob Stewart, Baadsvik amazing performance also brought some new innovations for the tuba to the stage. At times he was his own rhythm section, using percussive, lip smacking, multiple tonguing techniques to generate intricate improvisations.
Baadsvik’s playing truly inspired all at Red Rocks, much like he did the day before, when he ignited the creative genius between himself, John Sass, and Jim Self during the clinic “New Currents in Deep Waters-Discussion,” creating musical moments you didn’t want to hear end.
Next in the line up came Hank Feldman & Daniel “Sly” Slipetsky. They spent many a late night at the Four Points Sheraton Lodge jamming with jazz notables such as Marty Erickson, Jim Self, Jun Yamaoka, Joe Murphy, and many others. Here at Red Rocks, the ITEC “early birds” had a chance to hear some of what the ITEC “night owls” were enjoying. Feldman impressed all with his improvisational skills, not only via his tuba playing but also vocally. They performed a Middle Eastern piece, written by an anonymous composer, in which Feldman did the traditional vocalizations. Slipetsky is also a monster talent of both tuba and the keyboards, pulling double duty throughout the evening and the week of ITEC. They finished out their set with an “R & B” tune called Touch.
Word had zipped around that the Mass Tuba-Euphonium Ensemble must be ready to play as soon as “Hank” and “Sly” finished their segment of the show. At this point, folks were spread out, end to end, along the first three rows of bench seating, leisurely enjoying the concert. We suddenly realized we had to “change gears” from audience member to performer and we stealthily scrambled to ready our instruments and music.
The three selections performed by the Mass Tuba-Euphonium Ensemble were “Pat-A-Pan” from the TubaChristmas Song Book arranged by Alec Wilder, Come Sweet Death by J.S. Bach arranged by Ed Sauter, and Flourish for Tuba Quartet by Ralph Vaughan Williams arranged by David Butler.
Unlike the two early morning mass reading rehearsals where the ensemble was basically divided by parts, the tubas and euphonium, in this setting, were inter-mixed all about our reserved section, but that did not diminish our performance at all. In fact it seemed to enhance the experience. Since one could easily hear the different parts nearby and your sound wasn’t lost in a massive section, you were able to hear yourself more clearly.
Harvey Phillips, “The Tuba Man” himself, conducted the impressive sound that filled the Red Rocks Amphitheatre. On the far side of the stage, Dennis AsKew, ITEA President, assisted conducting. At the end of the mass ensemble performance, the crowd gave an enthusiastic applause while the ITEC participants spontaneously honored Harvey Phillips with a boisterous chant of “Harvey!”
The evening rich in creativity and innovative sounds, culminated in the performance of Jon Sass & Friends. His friends, a.k.a. the Sassified Band, are listed above in the heading. While laying down funky bass lines and keeping the groove going, Jon intently lead the Sassified Band through his new arrangements from upon his stool, center stage. You could watch him direct and cue people with an expressive glance across the band, with a lift of an eyebrow here or a wave of a hand there, or with a nod of his bell, all keeping the ensemble together and the energy level high. They broke into a different feel with Banana Calypso where Hank Feldman was featured doing a Spanish Rap. Jon himself stepped up to the microphone next, where he presented his hit rap tune, Wetbottom from his newly released CD, Sassified.
Jon, along with all these heavy weights, produced a showcase of new tuba and euphonium sounds and images for the public to enjoy, and they responded most favorably. Despite some glitches with the sound, the energy and performances were great! This concert was the exclamation point at the end of a wonderful week of ITEC 2006. Red Rocks Amphitheatre was a most fitting venue, for the inspiration we found in the natural beauty of Red Rocks paralleled the inspiration we found among each other here at ITEC 2006.
~Julian C. Dixon, California State University, Sacramento; Sacramento Philharmonic Orchestra
|2006 ITEC Program Booklet (2.1 MB PDF)
|Thursday, June 29
|2006 ITEC Photo Album