ITEC 2012 in Review

ITEC 2012 in Review

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Competitions

At any ITEC, the competitions are some of the most important events (especially for those competing). This is an opportunity for young and talented musicians to perform for distinguished judges. For the audience, it is a chance to hear some of the up and coming stars of the tuba and euphonium world; many people have used these competitions as a springboard into successful performing careers. As with other ITECs hosted outside the United States, the competitions had comparatively more diversity in the participants’ nationalities. Competitors came to Linz from the USA and mainland Europe as well as a host of other countries including such exotic places as Brazil, Taiwan, and Malta.


Euphony performs in the semi-final round, Ensemble

New to the competitions at ITEC 2012 was the addition of a standardized evaluation rubric. The new rubric utilizes a point system to help determine the finalists in each category and ultimately the final results. More than one judge indicated that they felt the new rubric is very helpful in evaluations and provides transparency and accountability to the entire process. It seems there was a lot of enthusiasm for this new process and it is likely to be carried on to future ITEC competitions.
A total of six competitions were held at ITEC 2012. It should be noted that everyone who competed live at the conference had already advanced through a recorded audition process. So for everyone who made it to the live rounds, it was a great accomplishment. Each competition will briefly be reviewed below:


Brian McBride performs in the final round, Artist Tuba

Young Artist Euphonium

A total of ten musicians advanced to the live round in the category and three were advanced to the finals where they all performed Anthony Roper’s Sonata for Euphonium. The final results were:

First Place-Felix Geroldinger
Second Place-Otoniel dos Santos
Third Place-Timothy Morris

It was noted that all three performed very well in the final round. Timothy and Otoniel both performed on euphonium while Felix performed on a baritone. Felix’s performance was noted for having a unique sound with great clarity in the technical lines. The winner of this competition had the opportunity to perform a brand new arrangement of Roper’s Sonata for Euphonium, specially arranged for wind band for this performance. (with what ensemble?)

Young Artist Tuba

Like the Young Artist Euphonium Competition, this division also had ten musicians in the semi-final round. Out of these ten, three were advanced to the final round where Rodney Newton’s Capriccio was the chosen repertoire. The final results were:

First Place- Will Druiett
Second Place- Manuel Mayer
Third Place- Francesco Porta


Will Druiett, winner of Young Artist Tuba

One of the judges from this competition was extremely impressed by the level of musical maturity and attention to detail that all the competitors showed. This judge felt the ability of all the competitors to perform at this high of a level, both musically and technically, really shows us where the performance level of our instruments is headed in the near future. Having heard Will perform on the winner’s concert, I have to agree. The younger generations continue to push the envelope of what can be done on the tuba and euphonium.

Small Ensemble

This ended up being one of the most interesting competitions. Not only was each group in the competition allowed to choose the repertoire, but the make-up of each group could vary in number and instrumentation (as long as the group had 4-6 members and any combination of tubas and euphoniums). Out of eleven groups in the semi-finals, four were advanced to the finals. The final results were:

First Place- Euphony
Second Place- Maize & Blue
Third Place- USC Bass Tuba Quartet
Fourth Place- Tuba l´Image

The groups advancing to the final round consisted of a variety of instrumentations. Two groups were tuba/euphonium quartets (two euphoniums and two tubas) while Euphony was a euphonium quartet and the USC Bass Tuba Quartet was truly that, a quartet with all members playing bass tuba. An exciting aspect of this competition was the amount of new repertoire that was created. Many members of the groups arranged pieces that their groups then performed as part of the competition. Musicians such as Euphony’s James Mcleod also composed new pieces specifically to be premiered as part of the competition. Roland Szentpali got a premiere during the competition as the USC Bass Tuba Quartet commissioned him to write the piece Homework for them to perform at the competition.


USC Bass Tuba Quartet performs in the final round, Ensemble

Arnold Jacobs Mock Orchestral Audition

The Mock Orchestral Audition included twenty semi-finalists from around the world. As is the case with many actual orchestra auditions, the conditions of the auditions were less than ideal. A couple of the competitors mentioned that the audition room was fairly small, with a low ceiling, and extremely hot. It was also noted that the auditions ran late into the night, ending around 10:00pm. Out of the twenty that played, four were advanced to the finals which were two days after the first round. The final results were:

First Place- Trevor Litsey
Second Place- Nimrod Ron
Third Place- Alexander Tischendorf

Although this was a competition, it was noted that there was a general mood of helpfulness between the participants. The audition monitor mentioned that the competitors were all rooting for each other as they went to perform and would assist in moving the multiple instruments to and from stage. A couple of instrument companies also helped with the competition by allowing some of the participants to borrow tubas if they were unable to bring multiple instruments do to travel limitations.

Artist Euphonium

The Artist Euphonium Competition featured 29 semi-finalists who had the choice of performing either Three Expeditions by Ethan Wickman or Concertino by Marco Pütz. Out of the five competitors that I heard perform, all of them chose the Wickman piece. Three Expeditions is a fairly new piece that is gaining much attention and popularity. The piece was a good choice for the competition because not only did it showcase the technical ability of the performers but really required them to showcase their musical ideas. Out of the semifinals, five were advanced to the final round where they performed David Gillingham’s Concerto. The final results were:

First Place- Gilles Rocha
Second Place- Philippe Erhard Schwartz
Third Place- Ricardo Antao

Artist Tuba

Like the Artist Euphonium Competition, the Artist Tuba Competition had a large number of semi-finalists, 31 in total. This is a characteristic of many European solo competitions; a large number are invited to perform in the first live round. The repertoire for the opening round consisted of Three Miniatures by Anthony Plog and Autumn by John Stevens, both standard pieces of solo tuba literature. Since both pieces are well known, it was interesting to hear how each competitor put their individual stamp on their performance. The judges decided to advance five competitors to the final round, where they performed Roland Szentpali’s Concerto.
The level of performance was extremely high and proved to be what was likely a challenging choice among the judges. But the prevailing Simon Wildman of the University of Georgia presented a colorful, confident, and singing version of the Concerto to the delight of the audience. Simon has achieved a great deal of competition success of late. The final results of this competition were:

First Place- Simon Wildman
Second Place- Nimrod Ron
Third Place- Barthelemy Jusselme

A big thank you needs to go out to all the judges, volunteers, and organizers who helped make these competitions run smoothly and efficiently. Coordinating all of these competitions is a big task and it was executed very well.

~Scott Roeder with Chris Combest, Saul Regalado, and J. D. Salas

Solo Euphonium


Matthew Mireles, Glenn Genn, and Van Looy

Anyone who did not make the trek to Linz for the 2012 ITEC missed an incredible display of diversity and excellence in musicianship put on by euphonium soloists from around the world. Steven Mead is to be commended for programming an impressively wide swath of soloists including many from Europe, whom after the string of American-based international conferences many of us needed to hear. Some of the most impressive aspects of the conference were the recital programs focused on specific repertoires or regions of the euphonium world, the incredibly high number of performances with ensemble accompaniment, and the high percentage of new works that were brought to the conference.
Focused programs

Picking a program for a conference audience is certainly a challenge. There were many programs that were very appropriate for the occasion of an international conference, highlighting new recordings, new commissions, new scholarship, new transcriptions, or pieces from a particular repertoire given authoritative performances.

The first truly focused program was Matt Mireles’s pairing of pieces by his teacher John Stevens. Matt’s full tone and committed musical performance let the audience anticipate his forthcoming DMA project: a disc of works by Stevens. This theme continued later with his European premiere of Stevens’s Concerto with the Military Wind Orchestra of Upper Austria. Mireles projected his confident and singing sound throughout the work. The second movement was particularly striking for his gentle vibrato and well-shaped, achingly long phrases.

Ben Pierce’s program titled “Borrowed from the Past” was a focused program of transcriptions. Though listed as a tuba program it showcased his incredible ability to switch to his first instrument, euphonium. His program of staples from previous performances and great new transcriptions like the Chant Bulgare showcased the famous powerful sound, effortless technique, and impressive musicality that have propelled him to so many contest victories.

Shoichiro Hokazono’s recital program of pieces from Japanese composers was a great example of a repertoire treated to an authoritative performance by an expert. The program was full of great new works, though the Yashide Ito Sonata was a standout.
Fernando Deddos’s program highlighted works arranged for his “Duo Primo” with percussionist Danilo Koch though the program was accented with several special guests. It was especially exciting to hear his performance of his own Rabecando for solo euphonium that showcases his bold, vibrant sound and won the Roger Bobo Award for Excellence in Composition in 2010.

Matthew van Emmerick appropriately brought a pair of pieces by composers from his native Australia. Collins’s Concert Gallop, which describes a horse race, was marked by running passage work for the soloists interrupted by dramatic rips into the upper range. The difficult leaps and color changes across registers gave the virtuosic effect of tight hocket writing between different voices. Helen Johnston’s Endeavor depicts Capt. James Cook’s journey to Botany Bay. After a dramatic gypsy-infused opening it settled into a melodic tune full of turn of the century style rubato. This episodic programmatic work was full of colorful scenes including tuneful sailors’ antics, a hornpipe full of running sixteenths, and an impressionistic storm at sea. Toward the conclusion of this flawless performance the audience could clearly hear the shout of “land ahoy” in the solo part. This very virtuosic work was written with multiple solo parts in 1970 for an Australian Bicentennial Competition in Sydney which celebrated the 200th Anniversary of Captain Cook’s landing.

Anthony Caillet brought a collection of works not originally for the euphonium from his native France. In the Francaix Sonatine for trumpet, Caillet navigated the arpeggiated patterns of the opening movement with a light touch, sang through the lovely second movement, and demonstrated great flexibility through the fragmented opening, following dance, and soaring range of the final movement. In Fauré’s Sicilienne for ‘cello, he deliberately shifted between the dancing solo line and accompanying figures for the piano using his impressive flexibility to draw relief between the two textures. In the Desenclos Suite Brève for French tuba, Caillet navigated the four movements without making the musical gymnastics seem difficult and maintaining tone and grace even in the low register. A very sensitive performance of Café 1930 by long-time Paris resident Astor Piazzolla concluded the excellent program, using vibrato and embellishments to great effect.


Benjamin Pierce with the Steinerkirchen Wind Band

The recital pairing of Demondrae Thurman with Thomas Rüedi playing works not originally for euphonium was certainly a conference highlight. Thurman opened with Rossini’s “Ecco ridente in cielo” to give the audience a taste of his recent disc of vocal music, Songs of a Wayfarer, a finalist for the Roger Bobo Excellence in Recording Competition. Thurman’s rich, full tone filled both the sustained lines and running passage work; it sounded very much at home in this number from Il Barbiere di Siviglia. His performance of former quartet-mate Patrick Shultz’s Roon Sonata showed a different side of Thurman’s playing with an energetic edge for the contemporary rhythms and severe contrasts. Stevens’s Sonata for Trombone, like the former piece, shares a rejection of some aspects of a traditional sonata in exchange for nearly continuous thematic development. Thurman’s bold tone laid out the angular fanfare and then he quickly popped gears to navigate the contrasting B theme. Great stamina and patience with the frighteningly thin second movement led to an intense driving abandon in the finale.

Rüedi introduced a program of his arrangements by stating that to him, “music is music.” He explained that “there really isn’t any old music, there isn’t really any new music – it is all just music.” This debatable statement has been made before, but in this case these unfamiliar works were certainly every bit as new to the community’s ears as pieces that were hot off the press. The program served as a reminder that the past is full of musical gems that await discovery. Certainly Franz Schubert is a household name but Rüedi’s performance of his virtuosic Sonata for Arpeggione displayed both technical mastery and stylistic finesse. The Granados Madrigal was given a stirring performance showcasing Rüedi’s delicate tone and tasteful implementation of vibrato. The work carried enough gravity that it could have been mistaken for a late romantic opera aria. The works by Andalusian Manuel deFalla introduced this composer to many. These studies varied in character and gave the soloist chances to navigate unique rhythms, different registers, and a variety of characters. The program-closing Danza del Fuego was packed with elements of technique we know to take great finger and tongue coordination, but was imbued with a mood and drive unique to Andalusia.

Other great focused programs included Luka Einfalt’s music from Slovenia and Ann-Julie Skarpmo’s program of Norwegian music. All were wonderful selections played with tasteful sounds and mature musicianship. The programs offered a healthy dose of great music from places with unique compositional voices and offered contrast with other programs. Gary Curtin gave a mixed program of classics and a new work, Introduction and Caprice by David Wallace that demonstrated his tone support and nimble dexterity. In a virtuosic rendition of the recurring Piazzolla Café 1930, now nearly standard repertoire, his inclusion of a few ornaments on the recapitulation were lovely and appreciated.
Similiarly, Jamie Lipton’s program brought together familiar pieces like Rolf Wilhelm’s Concertino, programmed on the occasion of Wilhelm’s ITEA Lifetime Achievement Award, new works like Ed Romine’s Indwelling Darkness, and classics by Webern, Mozart, and Dvorak. Romine, a former student of Lipton’s, wrote his unaccompanied work as a portrait of the angel Lucifer’s fall from grace. This work really showcased Lipton’s gorgeous tone and mature bel canto technique. Her remarkably consistent performances gave definitive readings of the contrasting works on her program.


Marty Erickson in recital with Katarzyna Wieczorek

With Ensembles

There were many fantastic performances and some wonderful pieces for soloist with ensemble. The conference opened with a showy start from the ever-impressive David Childs. His glowing tone sang through the opening melodic material. Unfortunately the running sixteenths in the allegro material were obscured by the figures played by the great-sounding SoundINNBrass.
Patrick Randfalk gave a lovely performance of a showy world premiere, The Striped Falcon by Magnus Hylander. The clever scoring passed the melodic line between soloist and various ensemble members. The players all contributed to what sounded like an endless moto perpetuo.

Anthony Caillet performed two wonderful pieces with the suberb Munich Police Band. His great projection and sensitive musicianship shone through his performances. Calliet explained that Steckar’s Lorient Mutant is a “mutation” of a jazz tune written for a Celtic festival in the town of Lorient in Brittany. A driving left-right jazz groove plays through this chart. Those familiar with Caillet’s European Tuba Trio can imagine that he is very comfortable in this style and had no problem traveling all over the instrument and unleashing what seemed to be an improvised solo as well as trading licks with the ensemble. It was a very unique addition to the conference and one of the few that left the audience with a big smile on their faces.
Hokazono’s performance of Goff Richard’s Pilatus with the Upper Austrian Youth Brass Band was a great demonstration of finesse and control. His gentle vibrato, smooth clear tone, and constant presence over the accompaniment served as a great reminder that restraint and subtly are also avenues of virtuosity.

David Childs didn’t disappoint with a rousing performance of well-known brass composer Meechan’s Sparta, which is fashioned using music from his euphonium concerto. The lyric introduction showcased Childs’s singing sound and his fantastic rubbery flexibility allowed him to travel all over the horn and deliver facile playing in driving breaks with the drums. His performance of the classic Believe Me… was accented by a reworking of the familiar accompaniment and brought the audience to its feet.

One of the great treats of the conference was David Thornton’s performance of the Torstein Aagaard-Nilsen Concerto with the James Madison University Brass Band. In the first movement, “Air,” repeated note ostinatos and air sounds cleverly conveyed a static esthetic. Thornton displayed great consistency of sound through the different registers as he joined with winds and percussion in pairings that fleshed out this character sketch. Angular lines played with great passion lead to a searing climax and a frightening denoument scored for a muted trombone section. The conclusion’s extensive multiphonics for the soloist gave way to running sixteenths passed from soloist to band and back, marked by percussion doublings.

Glenn Van Looy’s performance of Andy Scott’s Concerto was marked by solid playing with intensity, singing vibrato on top of a fluctuating instrumentation that drew a wide variety of colors from different parts of the ensemble. Like the Aagard-Nilsen earlier in the program, each movement is a character sketch marked by different techniques for the soloist. In the second, extended soliloquy passages lead to a delightfully plaintive conclusion. In the last movement, solo lines suggestive of improvised jazz solos for euphonium paired with raucous rock and samba writing for percussion that threated to overshadow the soloist at times. Van Looy gave this fun, pop-influenced concerto a great performance.


Velvet Brown and Mojatuba

New Music

It was refreshing and exciting to see that an aggressive pursuit of new music no longer belongs to the elite or the eccentric. The first performance that really caught my ear was Rodin Rosendahl’s confident and mature reading of the fantastic Xerses by Alfred Willering, written originally for euphonium and fanfare band just a year ago. Pianist Asta Kvasyte seemed to relish the difficult arrangement for piano. This long, one movement work covers a broad range in terms of both pitch and dynamics and requires great control. The piece is dramatic yet well paced and features sustained high register playing. Rosendahl’s striking warm, brassy sound and mature vibrato brought the piece to life. Fellow Netherlander Glenn van Looy brought a program of new pieces from his disc of new works titled Move their Mind – a finalist for this year’s Roger Bobo prize for euphonium solo recording. This recommended disc documents a diversity of new pieces for euphonium as well as van Looy’s impeccable playing.

David Thornton’s solo recital consisted of works by famous composers. Surprise: none were originally for euphonium. Though not new commissions for the instrument, these works brought contemporary styles and new sounds into the euphonium recital repertoire. The Fancy on a Bach Air, written for Yo-Yo Ma, showcased characteristic Corigliano abstractions and exposed expressive phrasing from Thornton. His performance of Previn’s Sonata was full of great flexibility in the first movement, memorably expressive phrasing from both Thornton and Wieczorek in the second movement, and melodies driven by rock and boogie in the conclusion. The program closed with Luc Vertommen’s increasingly popular edition of Franz Waxman’s Carmen Fantasy, originally written for Heifetz, which is full of virtuosic treatments of much-loved themes from Bizet’s opera. Thornton brought plenty of Franco-Spanish flare and fire from the flamboyant opening through its fiery note-packed conclusion.

Robert Benton gave a lovely program of a set of vocalise-etudes that anticipate his forthcoming published collection of vocalise-etudes by different composers. Ricardo Lorenz’s commissioned work Monkey to the Sky was unique to this conference in that it was for euphonium soloist with chamber accompaniment. The exciting work demanded consistent intensity from the performers as the dialog between soloist and ensemble worked through contrasting articulations and scalar patterns. Steve Bryant’s Hummingbird with two-channel playback presented a mosaic of vocal samples reminiscent of an a capella tune with a contemporary pop beat as a background for virtuosic counterlines for the soloist, resulting in a lighthearted and unique conclusion.

There were a few soloists who did not play regional or new music but deserve mention because of their sheer musicality. Bastien Baumet gave a masterful performance of the Vivaldi Concerto in E-flat Major. His clean articulations and brilliant, supple runs gave a wonderfully clean, classical-styled performance. The second movement was a great showcase for his sound as he performed without vibrato.

Also noteworthy was the increasing stake of baritone horn soloists. Kristy Rowe and Katrina Marzella offered some wonderful performances drawing on a small but growing repertoire. Marzella’s performance with the Upper Austrian Youth Brass Band was particularly stunning – the bright tone of the baritone sang with flowing dynamics and plenty of vibrato. It carried with great projection in all registers through Scott’s new work, Film. She and the band seemed to especially enjoy rocking out to the backbeat of the well-known arrangement of the traditional Carrickfergus.
~Mark Carlson with Kyohei Ando and Brett Keating

Solo Tuba

ITEC 2012 is already a memory, but magnificent performances still resonate in our heads.
Roland Szentpali kicked off a great week with a recital in front of an enthusiastic standing-room-only crowd at the Musikschule on Saturday evening. He began the recital by showing impressive agility on the serpent and followed with his original piece, Melton 2000, which was commissioned by Gerhard Meinl to commemorate the 200th anniversary of Wenzel Meinl. Szentpali closed with his adaptation of Carmen for tuba, flute, cello, and piano. After two ovations, Szentpali took the stage again and treated the audience to a performance of Flight of the Bumblebee.

One of the more moving and powerful performances of the week was given by Velvet Brown and her collaborative project, Mojatuba: Tuba and Dance Fusion. Brown was joined by Anthony Leach on piano, Jimmy Finnie on drums, and dancers Kikora Franklin, Maria Malizia, and Quilan Arnold. MOJA is an acronym for Modern Dance, Original Works, Jazz Styles, and African Influence. The audience was clearly moved by their performance of Barbara York’s How Beautiful. This piece was written at the request of tubist Matthew K. Brown and his wife, Kristy, in memory of their son, Eli Reuben Brown, who had passed away. Malizia and Arnold added a beautiful visual interpretation of the piece as the group took the audience through a journey of the joy of new life and the pain of loss.


Thomas Leleu

Tuba soloist Thomas Leleu gave an impressive recital on Thursday afternoon. The young French Grammy winner played several 20th century pieces balanced with an arrangement of Handel’s Organ Concerto Op. 7, No. 5 in G minor. With his pure tone and flawless technique, it was obvious to the audience why Leleu has had so much recent success.

Aaron Tindall played the Capriccio for Tuba and Marimba by William Penn on a 6/4 Tuba, impressing the audience with his sound and also his lightness and clarity on the big tuba. He raises the 6/4 C tuba to the level of any solo instrument. The piece is a combination of minimalist rhythms in the marimba and beautiful melodies in the tuba in all ranges.

James Gourlay showed his fantastic singing approach to the tuba with a performance of Martin Ellerby’s Tuba Concerto. His playing was like a conversation between the tuba and the brass band.

Chris Combest did a great job with Triangles for Tuba, Trombone, and Horn by John Stevens. The group comprised Combest on Tuba, Heidi Lucas on horn, and Bruce Tychinski on trombone, and showed immediately a very good balance. The group’s sound was beautiful and refreshing, driving the audience through a Hispanic atmosphere. The scenario changes and horn and trombone begin a dialogue of calls. The last part of the piece was very rhythmic, and the group played many parts in unison like the wind section of a big band.


Eirik “The Viking” Gjerdevik

Les Neish chose a beautiful piece for his “shining” performance with the James Madison University Brass Band. Shine, by Peter Meechan, is a challenging work but Les, with his energy and determination, mastered it very well. He was able to change atmosphere with the use of very contrasting dynamics.

As is his habit, Ben Pierce presented the outstanding performance of the evening, with the European premiere of Allen Vizutti’s “Cityscape” for solo tuba and band. The piece, commissioned with only the loose request that the accompaniment be playable by a student ensemble, includes many of Mr. Vizutti’s signature idioms- elements of popular music, tender pianissimo moments, extremes of range and texture, and of course blistering virtuosity required of the soloist. Mr. Pierce, one of the leading soloists of his generation on both euphonium and tuba, made the most challenging passages seem easy, and brought elegance to every bar.
Carol Jantsch, with her great technique and musicality, as well as a pleasant stage presence, interpreted the Concerto in A minor op. 33 by Camille Saint-Saens. The audience seemed captivated by her performance, as every note was perfectly calibrated with elegance and delicacy.

Øystein Baadsvik was joined on stage by a fantastic string ensemble from Salzburg, Austria on Saturday afternoon. This project clearly meant a great deal to Baadsvik. He explained how the first time they tried to record this music, there was a problem with the equipment and the recording was lost. It was decided that they would abandon the project. At a later performance, Baadsvik was approached by a man named Gary Price, who asked if there were any plans to release a recording of the music he had just heard. When told of the project’s demise, Price offered up $6,000 (that he had saved up for a new car) and asked if that was enough to resurrect the project. Baadsvik didn’t take Price’s money, but was so inspired by his kindness that he came away from the experience with renewed vigor and motivation to attempt the recording again.

Canadian tubist Tom McCaslin presented a program that was musically buoyant and technically jaw dropping. The premiere of One More Dance, commissioned by a group of Roger Bobo’s students to celebrate the legendary soloist and composed by Roger Kellaway, set the tone for Prof. McCaslin’s portion of the morning recital. Mr. Kellaway’s piece brought to mind the familiar, engaging, and difficult Morning Song, though this new composition has more substance and more extreme challenges. Another premiere, Clear Lake by Stephen Oberheu, seems an excellent addition to the repertoire, and Prof. McCaslin’s own take on Arban’s Carnival of Venice was full of humor and seemingly effortless virtuosity.
Marty Erickson is oft considered a jazz tuba player, so his classical program really opened the ears! His performance of Sonata No. 2 for flute by J.S.Bach repaid high expectations, his sound being very delicate and velvety like a flute. His phrasing drove us from Linz on a journey into the past.

Alessandro Fossi brought with him to Linz the renowned Italian percussion ensemble Tetraktis Percussions. Fossi opened with a great new work by Italian composer Riccardo Panfili, Sonata for Tuba and Percussion, commissioned specially for this conference. The main theme of this piece refers to an African tribal melody that comes as distant call, developed with a mix of rhythms from the percussion. The tuba continues to sing the ancestral calling until the full ensemble gets to a scream of war.

Eirik “The Viking” Gjerdevik brought a little humor to ITEC 2012’s grand finale by performing “Largo al Factotum” from Rossini’s Barber of Seville, even treating the audience to his operatic singing voice for a few bars. That’s right, a Viking singing opera. All that was missing was a dual-horned helmet. This lively performance was a fun way to end a week of inspiring solo tuba performances at ITEC 2012!

~Alessandro Fossi with Blaine Cunningham, Alexander Lapins, and Pablo Manuel Fernandez

Quartets

There were so many fantastic quartets at ITEC 2012, and it is invigorating to see how the genre continues to grow and develop in the capable hands of today’s leading and bourgeoning quartets. Each group had its own special something that made it memorable and remarkable, and each group’s specialty was quite different from other groups. It is that specialty that stood out to me; the groups are playing on a higher level now than when I was a student. I remember writing Consequences for Sotto Voce and my colleagues in the group said, “…we can’t play this…this is impossible.” Today, college ensembles are regularly choosing Consequences as a competition pieces, and professional ensembles such as Junction are tackling much more difficult pieces, such as the Franz Cibulka Concert for Tubaquartett.

Perhaps a place to begin a discussion on the various tuba/euphonium quartet activities would be a look at the ensembles that performed in the foyer of the Brucknerhaus during lunchtime or dinner concerts. I love the idea of a beautiful woman singer performing with a bunch of low brass guys, and “Die Schöne und das Blech” certainly didn’t disappoint. What a wild new idea…and it works! The arrangements were well done and well performed, but adding the singer makes this group palatable to a larger audience and really moves low brass commercial music in a good direction. The Fat Lips group from Munich really impressed me with their amazingly agile technical abilities. They reminded me a lot of the British quartet Tubalaté, not only for their brilliantly leggiero playing, but also for their extremely diverse programming. Because they were in the foyer they chose to focus on lighter fare, and it is in popular music styles where I really thought they excelled. The Desert Oasis Quartet from UNLV took an entirely different approach to their foyer concert and performed a large and interesting new work by jazz trombonist Nate Kimball. The work is titled Billy’s Adventures in Space and involves a story that was superbly (and loudly!) narrated by Danny Helseth. As I mentioned to the group after the performance, it was truly unfortunate that they didn’t get a quieter venue for this world premiere. It was a very entertaining piece, and the music was very well scored and written, but somehow it came off awkwardly given the noisy venue with patrons walking right by Danny in the midst of his intense narrative.

In terms of concert performances, there were a number of truly remarkable performances by groups such as Alchemy, Eufonix, European Tuba Trio, Tuba Polaris, and my own Sotto Voce. But one of the unique quartet concert events was Junction’s performance of Cibulka’s Tuba Quartet Concerto with the Steinerkirchen Concert Band, which by its own nature was quite different in that this was the only tuba quartet performing with accompaniment. I spoke briefly with Velvet Brown after the performance and she encouraged me to bring this very difficult work to Sotto Voce. I hesitated, replying that that would be like asking my quartet to attempt a marathon. The piece is very well orchestrated with lots of interesting effects and colors in the band parts, and the composer did a good job of alternating the motivic material of this concerto grosso. The tuba and euphonium parts are virtuosic to say the least, and the women in Junction tackled the work with great energy and finesse.


Sotto Voce

Equally virtuosic to the Junction performance, the European Tuba Trio’s concert featured creative work at the very highest level. The ETT performed with no accompaniment; not even drums. Drums might have been fitting at times but weren’t really missed due to the interesting and active basslines. The listener was truly in awe of their dizzying array of improvised motifs, unique sounds, and soulful collaboration. Their music was mostly notated, but there were many opportunities both in solo cadenzi and in chord progressions for the players to improvise. The group doesn’t get together very often, and Sérgio Carolino had mentioned that the last time they played together before this performance was over a year ago. You wouldn’t know that from their performance; there was an organic sense of collaboration that permeated their performance throughout. Part of it was the members’ ability to play off of one another so well, and the other was their willingness to play with such creative reckless abandon. If there was just one tuba/euphonium chamber group to be highlighted as successfully trying something new, finding their own very unique sound, and challenging audiences to come on their collaborative ride with them, it is the European Tuba Trio.


Alchemy

The group Tuba Polaris from Norway performed what I would deem the most contemporary quartet concert at ITEC 2012, and perhaps even one of the more contemporary programs at the conference. It was both refreshing and interesting to hear a newer group perform music from their native land so passionately. The centerpiece of their program, a new work by Bodvar Moe, was particularly striking with new sonorities for tuba/euphonium quartet coupled with highly developed and expanded musical ideas. The quartet performed exceptionally well in this repertoire and played with a great deal of passion and enthusiasm. For many in the audience this music may have been too challenging, but they stayed and listened nonetheless, owing perhaps to the enthusiastic performance of Tuba Polaris.

Eufonix is a fresh take on the tuba/euphonium quartet in that it was originally formed by four euphonium players (two of whom double on tuba). While Aaron Tindall is an absolute virtuoso on tuba, I was even more impressed when he put down his big CC and performed the top euphonium part on the very next piece! For me, the most striking element about Eufonix is their ability to change the color of their sound with instrumentation shifts as well as moving various players around on different parts in the ensemble. While I’m sure this is difficult to do, it gives their ensemble a freshness on every tune because the listener doesn’t know who will be playing top this time, or if there will or won’t be a tuba. Overall, I enjoyed their euphonium quartet works the most and it was a welcome change of sound.


Eufonix

Alchemy is the longest-lived quartet on the ITEC program and it is fantastic to hear them perform with such energy. One needs to have that kind of energy in order to play the virtuosic arrangements by Gary Buttery! I have always enjoyed Gary’s voicings, with the first tuba (which he plays) up so high. It lightens the texture of the tuba/euphonium quartet, and with that lightness comes a clarity that not many other groups can attain. Sotto Voce was eager and happy to share a program with Alchemy, as it was James Jackson who chaired the tuba/euphonium quartet competition at the Minnesota ITEC in 1998 and helped put Sotto Voce on the map as the winner of that competition. We performed a program of newer works that we’ve been eager to share with the European tuba community for some time. The centerpiece of our program was Fantasy Movements by American born, German immigrant Tony Plog. We commissioned this five movement work along with Cimarron Press, and we think it’s a great addition to the repertoire. According to audience members, however, the piece that really stood out was Nat McIntosh’s arrangement of Ars Moriendi by Mr. Bungle (Mike Patton). This tune is always an intriguing way to end our program with a mishmash of styles and a great deal of extended technique…especially in Nat’s part!


Junction

In the end, there had been quartets from new (Desert Oasis) to well seasoned (Alchemy), from modern (Tuba Polaris) to hip (European Tuba Trio), and from colorful (Eufonix) to concerto (Junction). This ITEC featured a variety in the tuba/euphonium quartet genre that seems to have surpassed any other ITEC in recent memory. Nothing could make this composer happier than to see a live and vibrant scene in the low brass genre that I love the most.
~Mike Forbes

College Tuba-Euphonium Ensembles

It was wonderful to see so many college tuba ensembles attending the 2012 International Tuba Euphonium Conference. It can be a real challenge to put together the funding for an ensemble to attend one of these events and it was much appreciated by all the attendees at the conference. Networking and hearing your colleagues’ work are benefits of attending one of these international conferences. The college ensembles that performed at ITEC were Pennsylvania State University, Glenville State College, University of Texas Pan American, Royal Northern College of Music, Texas Tech University, University of Arizona, Osaka College of Music, Indiana University, and the University of Nevada Las Vegas. Below are some highlights from these performances.


Dan Perantoni with the Indiana University Ensemble

The Indiana University ensemble provided a stellar performance with both tuba ensemble and quartet. They featured several works arranged by ensemble member Matt Hightower as well as the popular piece Three Profiles by Anthony Plog. The highlight of their recital was their performance of Three Ludes for Tuba by Robert Jager, featuring Dan Perantoni with the wonderfully balanced and blended Bassi Profondi quartet.


Scott Roeder with the UT Pan American ensemble

Directed by Velvet Brown, the Pennsylvania State University ensemble played two concerts. One was a pre-concert to Heavy Tuba and the other was a foyer concert during lunchtime. The ensemble played very well with great blend and tone. All the compositions they performed were transcribed, composed, or commissioned by Penn State University faculty or students.

Directed by Llyod Bone Jr., the Glenville State College tuba ensemble played their own children’s program on the outdoor stage. The ensemble featured works done by member Ryan Deems and also highlighted Ryan Spangenberg singing on a number of pieces, which brought a different element to the tuba ensemble. The ensemble will be releasing their children’s DVD within a year.
The University of Texas Pan American tuba ensemble, directed by Scott Roeder, opened their program with the William Tell Overture by Rossini. John Stevens’s arrangement of Three Bruckner Motets was a perfect choice of music at the Brucknerhaus. The world premiere of Fan Tuba Fare, written by Justin Writer, was very enjoyable. The program concluded with Scott Roeder’s arrangement of Jalisco, a traditional Mexican folk melody.

The University of Arizona performed two programs at the ITEC- a lunchtime concert in the foyer and the opening concert for Mnozil Brass. Their program featured jazz influenced music including Urban Suite by Shawn Kelley, I Wanna Be Like You arranged by student member Jacob Conner, and a Gershwin Medley that featured Moisés Paiewonsky (UA trombone Professor) on trombone.
The University of Nevada Las Vegas performed twice, one as a lunchtime foyer concert and once as part of the brass weekend in Linz. The Desert Oasis Quartet featured a work that was written specifically for them by Nate Kimball, titled Billy’s Adventure in Space. It is a comic book meets Dr. Seuss story that featured the narration talents of the one and only Danny Helseth.

The RNCM euphonium ensemble, under the direction of David Thornton, gave an energy filled performance. Several soloists were featured throughout the program and the audience demonstrated their appreciation for this well-rehearsed ensemble.

Texas Tech University’s tuba ensemble, under the direction of Kevin Wass, began their program with Shostakovich’s Fires of Eternal Glory arranged by Jesse McConnell. They performed Anthony Plog’s Three Profiles, which was written for Tennessee Tech. The last piece of the program was O Magnum Mysterium by Morten Laurisen.


Velvet Brown with the PSU ensemble

Kazuhiro Nakamura is the director of the Osaka Collage of Music tuba/euphonium ensemble. Japanese arranger Eiji Suzuki’s work The Merry Window Selections by Franz Lehar opened the concert. Osaka College of Music euphonium and tuba students arranged both Theme from Lupin III and Jonetsu Tairiku, which are very famous TV themes in Japan. A Song for Japan, by Steven Verhelst, closed the program. The piece was arranged by OCMETE director Kazuhiro Nakamura. The beautiful, peaceful sound of eighteen euphonium and tuba players was a wonderful way to reflect on all that has happened since the natural disaster in Japan.
Kelly Thomas with Michael McLean, Stacey Garcia, and Suke Nakata

Jazz

Jazz played an important role at the ITEC, not only as the focus of several concerts and sessions but also as the ideal backdrop for the evening social gatherings. The jazz artists featured throughout the week were Sérgio Carolino, Marty Erickson, Wycliffe Gordon, Heavy Tuba, János Mazura, and Jon Sass, and they were joined by a high-caliber cast of supporting musicians. Several of the jazz performances were extremely moving, inspiring, and memorable.


A virtuosic variety show at the Arcotel bar

For this reviewer, Heavy Tuba Austria’s Tuesday evening performance of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition, arranged by Austrian jazz pianist Helmar Hill, was not only a highpoint in the conference but the kind of once-in-a-lifetime concert experience that leaves a truly profound impact. Unaware of Heavy Tuba’s 2004 CD featuring this work, I stumbled into the concert unsuspecting. I was immediately captivated by Hill’s masterful arrangement, which incorporated a wide range of jazz styles to compellingly capture the character of each movement, and I began to imagine myself in the shoes of those lucky listeners 90 years ago who would have first reveled in the magic of Ravel’s famous orchestration. The experience was further enhanced by the artistry of Argentinian Hernan Ricaldoni—who created a “live painting” inspired in real time by the events of the music—and the outstanding level of performance from the three tubists, four trombonist/euphoniumists, four rhythm section players, conductor, and British singer Dorretta Carter. The final movement was a stunningly glorious, goose-bump raising climax befitting the remarkable emotional journey that it was completing. This half-concert was a gift, and the ITEC attendees were the grateful recipients.


Marty Erickson’s daily jazz improvisation course

The second half of the concert showcased Heavy Tuba Experience, a jazz-funk group consisting of Hungarian János Mazura on tuba, Austrian Robert Bachner on euphonium, and the same great rhythm section from the first half. Performing tasty arrangements of funk-laced tunes by Mazura, Bachner, guitarist Frank Schwinn, and Jaco Pastorius, the band grooved its way into the hearts of the audience, which demanded an encore.

Following this Tuesday evening concert, many from the audience retired to the bar/restaurant area of the Brucknerhaus to enjoy the brotherhood of low brass, their beverage of choice, and the unparalleled virtuosity of Sérgio Carolino. Collaborating with drummer Christian Salfellner (who had played the entire evening concert), the Portuguese tubist played with his trademark fluidity, pursuing ideas in a flash and gliding through layers of atmosphere with ease. His selections ranged from standards like Ellington’s “Rockin’ in Rhythm” to seemingly spontaneous, complete improvisations. From my own perspective as a jazz tubist, performing in the absence of a bass player and any chordal instrument puts a frighteningly huge responsibility on one’s shoulders, but Carolino fearlessly and creatively took charge of this musical challenge.


Hernan Ricaldoni’s live painting from Heavy Tuba’s Mussorgsky performance

János Mazura’s involvement continued beyond Heavy Tuba into an afternoon recital on Friday. Highlights included several solo tunes with the rhythm section, a duet with Marty Erickson, and original arrangements for several tubas with rhythm section. (For these he was joined by Marty Erickson, Andreas Hofmeir, and myself…doubling on boogie-woogie piano!) A duet on “Blue Bossa” with the terrific guitarist Frank Schwinn was particularly memorable.

Thursday night at the hotel bar was something of a variety show. After the conclusion of the Euro 2012 football match, it began with a couple of jazz hymn renditions by the Brass Quintet of the Central Band of the Royal Air Force (UK) and took a sharp left turn upon the entrance of the bagpiper! His solo number got everyone’s attention; then he joined forces with the quintet. When James Gourlay jumped up to do a jig (or perhaps a reel?) on the following tune, the whole conference may well have picked up and moved to the UK!


Janos Mazura (L) and Andreas Hofmeir (R) perform with Heavy Tuba

The “not your typical ITEC jazz night” theme continued as jazz trombone luminary Wycliffe Gordon walked in. Immediately a game-changer, he began playing standards with the rhythm section while many in the packed barroom gave their full attention, cheered enthusiastically, and sensed that this ITEC wouldn’t be the same. János Mazura sat in on several tunes, and I sat in as well. Someone asked for boogie-woogie during the break, so I took my cue at the piano. Soon Gordon came and joined in—on trombone, soprano trombone, euphonium, and tuba—along with the trumpeter from the Royal Air Force brass quintet. Others joined in as well, and we finished out the night in this casual, spontaneous way.

Wycliffe Gordon’s presence was felt the rest of the week. He played generously, sitting in here and there, and his performances were always thrilling. After the Mnozil Brass concert he performed at the Brucknerhaus bar and invited others to sit in. As I stood on stage between him and Mnozil Brass’s Thomas Gansch (an astounding jazz trumpeter), I felt as much like a fortunate fly on the wall as a performer myself. After one soprano trombone solo, Gordon came to the side of the stage where Gansch held out his trumpet and asked, “You want the real one…with valves?” Without hesitating, Gordon took it and proceeded to play several smokin’ solos on it! (Later he returned Gansch’s jab when he announced, “Thomas Gansch on the trumpet…on this here girly thing—whatever you call it—is that a trumpet?”)


Kent Eshelman sits in with the combo; Wycliffe Gordon looks on

In addition to his dynamite playing on five (!) brass instruments, Gordon’s singing was a joy to hear. He sings with the tastefulness and wit of his hero, Louis Armstrong, and can scat like the greats. His scatting duel with Gansch was a wild affair, snowballing into quotes of Eine kleine Nachtmusik and The Magic Flute! He sang the “St. Louis Blues” at the final evening concert, complete with background vocals from the euphonium section of the Brass Band of Upper Austria, and his growling, shouting, jabbing trombone solo on his tune “Me, We,” seemed evocative of the piece’s inspiration, Muhammad Ali.


Wycliffe Gordon joins the jazz improv class for an afternoon performance

Just as Wycliffe Gordon’s playing illuminated the special ability of music to move and excite listeners, so too did Jon Sass’s performances with hornist/alphornist Arkady Shilkloper on the final day. Sass is a true groovemaster whose playing is funky yet subtle, melodic, and elegant. His tone quality is smooth and gorgeous, and it draws you in. As one who had never heard Shilkloper before, I became one of the many amazed audience members. He plays the horn and the alphorn as easily as a flugelhorn, and his level of creativity is a perfect match for the likes of Sass. Between the two of them, time was rock-solid, ideas were fluid and expressive, and the music was absolutely complete. While Sass came from nearby Vienna, Shilkloper traveled about 1,000 miles roundtrip by train that day. So when Gordon (from the United States) sat in with them for a couple tunes, the “international” aspect of this conference truly came to life!


Arkady Shilkloper and Jon Sass

While ITEC participants were enjoying the artistry of these accomplished jazz artists throughout the week, Marty Erickson was busy investing in the next generation. His concept was new to an ITEC: Hold a class every day for a small group of jazz beginners, who would learn enough to be able to perform a concert at the end of the week. This is exactly what he did, with great energy and passion, and the result was inspiring. By Saturday, eight participants (four on euphonium and four on tuba) were experienced enough in improvisation to be able to solo live, backed by a professional rhythm section and joined by none other than Wycliffe Gordon. I don’t know exactly what that must feel like—to trade fours with one of the world’s best after one week of practicing improvisation—but I think I know the word for it in any language: ITEC.

~Dr. Kent Eshelman


Late night jazz at the Arcotel

New Directions

Microtub

This year, attendees at ITEC were treated to a program that featured a wide variety of programs, presentations, and performances. There are some interesting new directions in which our instruments may be going.

I was involved in one of the first presentations at this year’s ITEC. On Monday afternoon, my colleagues Nick Hwang, J. Corey Knoll, Dr. Joseph Skillen, and I gave a presentation and performance entitled What is GUA? To summarize, GUA is a digital instrument that Nick and Corey have developed over the last few years. Coupled with live performance, this digital instrument has the capability to manipulate live sound as well as record and replay live sound. The live sound and/or the replayed samples can then be replayed, processed or unprocessed. The instrument allows the performers to blur the audience’s perception of whether the sound is happening from the live performer or is being replayed via the computer software. Our presentation covered the technical aspects of GUA, including hardware and software, as well as the inspiration, challenges, and desires in writing a piece for two tubas and two GUA stations. Following the presentation, the four of us performed the world premiere of Fishing for Jormungandr by J. Corey Knoll and Nick Hwang.


Drs. Steven Maxwell and Paul Hunt

On Tuesday, Dr. Steven Maxwell and Dr. Paul Hunt, both on faculty at Kansas State University, performed a recital that featured a composition by Dr. Hunt entitled Absurdities for Tuba and Digital Media. In this case, the digital media was a pre-recorded soundscape accompaniment. While there was no additional media presentation (visuals, live action, etc.) this piece did feature some creative ideas. Overall, it had a retro aesthetic, featuring a 1950’s style radio voice reading fictional news stories and advertisements. These, coupled with Dr. Maxwell’s playing, muted playing, and occasional talking or screaming, made for an enjoyable performance. In my conversations with Drs. Maxwell and Hunt, they both seemed to be big proponents of music with recorded accompaniment. The ease of use, relative foolproof-ness, and ability to be transported were big plusses and made for an easy trip to Austria for these performers.

On Thursday, Microtub performed a recital featuring the Hayward Microtonal System on two of the instruments in the trio. Micrtub comprises Robin Hayward, Kristoffer Lo, and Martin Taxt. Microtub performed two pieces that explored micro-tonality and the intricacies of the fully microtonal system that Robin Hayward developed with the assistance of B & S Instruments. Both pieces lasted in excess of ten minutes and received enthusiastic response from the audience. In my conversations with Microtub following their performance, all three performers stressed that they were making a living performing on the tuba, and that theirs is not the traditional performance living. Kristoffer, Robin, and Martin do not hold positions in orchestras nor in a teaching capacity. Their performances tend to be at jazz festivals, in conjunction with multimedia art installations, or in art galleries. Kristoffer Lo says, “we simply play tuba all the time.” Robin Hayward had an interesting point in our conversation when he said he has two criteria when choosing repertoire. Firstly, he says he wants to choose music that is implicit to the tuba, in other words, can’t be performed on another medium. Second, he wants to choose music that is not only interesting to tuba players, but also interesting to non-tuba players.

Tuba Polaris is a new tuba quartet made up of Norwegian performers Geir Davidsen and Tor Kristian Ennbjoer, euphonium, with Jan Viggo, Thuve Oewre, and Mats Kjelling, tuba. Their program featured original music and arrangements by Norwegian composers. Their musical selections were enjoyable and varied. Of particular note was a world premiere of a new piece by Torstein Aagaard-Nilsen entitled Block. This single movement work demands rhythmic precision and extreme attention to the handing of musical line from one player to the next. Tuba Polaris is devoted to grant writing and fundraising in order to commission new works for the tuba euphonium quartet medium.

~Andy Larson

Instruments

As a preface to the reviews, I thought it might be helpful to explain how I describe sound characteristics. There is obviously an infinite amount of color present in the sounds of the different horns. However, for the purpose of these reviews, I decided to think about a continuum of sound qualities based on the projection versus resonance of the instrument. At one end of the spectrum are tubas with very direct, projecting sounds, whereas the other end of the spectrum contains tubas with dark, resonant sounds. Using this continuum as a guide, I defined each horn’s sound in terms of projection and resonance, making note of any striking colors beyond these general qualities.

For those who are interested, I used a Schilke 51D mouthpiece to test euphoniums, a Yamaha Roger Bobo Solo mouthpiece for bass tubas, and a Giddings and Webster Alan Baer Original CC tuba mouthpiece for contrabass tubas.

B&S

B&S offers a wide range of tubas, “each designed for a specific purpose,” according to the company’s brochure. I tested four of their F tubas, two CC tubas, and one BB-flat tuba. Three of the F tubas – the 3100 WGJ “JBL Classics,” 5100/W, and 3099/2/W (PT-10) – seemed to possess a nice balance of free-blowing and resistant qualities, making them very easy to play. I especially enjoyed the sound of the 5100/W, which I found to be a nice combination of resonant and projecting characteristics. The fourth F tuba I played, the MRP-F “Dan Perantoni,” had a lot more resistance but was still relatively easy to play. The 4097 (PT-20) and 3098 (PT-6) CC tubas I found to be very flexible and easy to play. I struggled with the intonation in the C3 to G3 range but enjoyed the dark, resonant sound of both horns. The 4097 seemed to have a more vibrant core to the sound than the 3098. I also tried their GR51 BB-flat tuba.

Besson

The Besson company has worked to achieve their self-described “real Besson sound.” I felt they are successful as I tested two euphoniums, an E-flat tuba, a CC tuba, and a BB-flat tuba. The current version of the BE2052 Prestige euphonium features some improvements over the previous model. This very responsive horn now has a third valve slide which is much closer to the main outer tube, thereby making the horn considerably more comfortable to hold in the left hand. This horn has a colorful and vibrant core to the sound and can take a lot of air without the sound becoming harsh. The BE967 Sovereign euphonium is very similar to the Prestige but feels a little smaller, despite the dimensions being generally the same. According to Besson’s website, both the BE967 and BE968 models are now available with a main tuning slide trigger. When I played the tubas, I noticed they had a certain feel that was very similar to the euphoniums. The brand new BE984 Sovereign E-flat tuba is Besson’s attempt to achieve an F tuba sound on an E-flat horn. I could still hear the “Besson sound,” but it was very different in that it was more compact and direct than the sounds of the other horns I played. The horn is an interesting addition to the Besson lineup. I enjoyed the BE995 Sovereign CC tuba, which is very easy to play and comfortable to hold. For being only a 4/4 tuba, it can produce a big sound and is easily maneuverable. Finally, the BE994 Sovereign BB-flat tuba has good intonation, is easy to play, and maintains the “Besson sound.”

Gronitz

I had a chance to play only two of Gronitz’s F tubas – the FZ 126 and PF 125. The FZ has rotary valves and a very resonant low range. I felt a fair amount of resistance but not so much that the horn was difficult to play. The PF has piston valves, with the fourth valve noticeably curved around, which produces a very comfortable position for the hand. The fifth valve on this horn is noteworthy because it lowers the pitch by a tritone, giving some interesting fingering options not available on other horns. Both horns had resonant sounds, with the PF having a nice color I might describe as a touch of sweetness.

Meinl-Weston

Meinl-Weston brought a dizzying array of tubas and euphoniums to ITEC, and I had to spend a significant amount of time in this booth to get a fair sampling of their instruments. The 751 “Phoenix” is Meinl-Weston’s top euphonium, and it features a very dark sound with a touch of color in the core of the sound. The 551 euphonium is similar to the 751 with its dark sound. I had some trouble holding this horn comfortably because the distance between the third valve slide and the main outer tube was quite a stretch for my average sized left hand. As for the F tubas, I found a collection of instruments that had powerful, direct sounds. The 2250 is a 6/4 tuba with a full sound in the low register. The 2250TL “French Touch” has a similar sound to the regular 2250, solid intonation, and a trigger in the left hand that moves the main tuning slide. The 4450 is also a 6/4 tuba, but it felt smaller and easier to play in the high range than the 2250 models. The 2260RA has rotary valves and a nice combination of direct and resonant sound qualities. Finally, the 6460 “Kodiak” is a very powerful 6/4 tuba with five valves in the right hand and two in the left hand, one of which is a trigger for a tuning slide. I tried two CC tubas beginning with the 5450 “Thor,” which is a big 5/4 tuba with a very strong sound. The 6450/2 “Baer” handmade model is a huge tuba especially made for situations where the player needs to support a large ensemble.

Miraphone

Miraphone brought an impressive lineup of horns to ITEC. For euphoniums, I first tried the Ambassador M5050 “Edition,” which is a very large euphonium with a dark, warm sound. This instrument may be difficult for a smaller person to handle due to its large physical size. This model has a main tuning slide trigger. The 1258A euphonium is similar to the M5000. It has a very open wrap like the M5050 but feels lighter and smaller than the M5050, and the resulting sound is brighter. I really enjoyed Miraphone’s lineup of F tubas, which includes horns that cover the full spectrum of resonant versus projecting sounds. The 281 “Firebird Edition” has a powerful, direct sound, is very comfortable to play and hold, and has solid intonation. The 1281 “Petruschka” covers the opposite end of the sound spectrum, capable of producing dark, resonant sounds. This horn is also comfortable to hold and easy to play. Miraphone’s new F tubas, the 181B/181C Belcanto and 381C Belcanto Solo, have a great combination of projecting and resonant sound. The Belcanto Solo has some slight differences, including the use of different materials and leadpipe soldering, and I especially enjoyed its easy response. For E-flat tubas, I played the 383B “Starlight” and 283A “Norwegian Star.” The Starlight was the smaller of the two horns and had a fair amount of resistance. The Norwegian Star has a bigger sound than the Starlight and, I thought, better intonation. In the contrabass tuba department, the 291 “Bruckner” CC tuba takes some effort to play, but the effort is rewarded with a resonant sound that also has a vibrant core. The 1292 “New Yorker” CC tuba also takes significant effort to play but is capable of producing a dark, resonant sound and has solid intonation. Finally, the BB-flat 98B “Siegfried” tuba is extremely easy to play and has a nice resonant sound with a vibrant core.

Willson

Unfortunately I was only able to play Willson’s euphoniums. Willson brought with them the 2960 TA “Celebration,” which is very easy to play and has a powerful low range. The 2950 TA-UK and 2950 TA are both very similar to the 2960 TA “Celebration” except that they have less core in the otherwise resonant sound. Finally, the 2960 TA-UK “Celebration” is also very similar to the 2960 TA “Celebration” but the sound is somehow different. Willson has created the “UK” euphoniums to fit in with the sound of British brass bands, which is what likely accounts for its slightly different tone color.

XO

XO is Jupiter’s line of professional instruments. I got to play only the euphonium offered by XO, the XO-1270. The sound of this horn reminds me of the light quality of Yamaha euphoniums, specifically the YEP-642. The right hand position is quite different ergonomically from what I am used to, but the horn is otherwise comfortable to hold.

Yamaha

Unfortunately, I got to play only the euphoniums at Yamaha’s exhibit, but I was intrigued by the horns I found there. The YEP-621 is billed as a “professional” horn with a 3+1 valve structure, but the horn lacks a compensating system. This euphonium has a light, pretty sound and good intonation and would be a great horn for high school students. The only downside of this horn is the odd placement of the fourth valve, which is positioned in between the third valve slide and the main outer tube. The usual placement of the fourth valve is behind the main outer tube. The YEP-642 “Neo” is a new version of the popular 642, and it has a light sound with a stronger core than the 621. This is a solid horn except for the effort I had to put into manipulating the intonation. Finally, the YEP-842S “Custom” has a relatively light sound with solid intonation.

~Gretchen Renshaw

ITEA Awards

2012 Harvey Phillips Awards for Excellence in Composition Finalists

Tuba or Euphonium Featured in Chamber Music:
*Fernando Deddos- Momentums
Nathan Tanyoue- Mile Marker 78
Stephen Barr- Ethereal Wave

Tuba Featured in a Solo Role:
*Dimitris Andrikopoulos- Anathema 1
Marco Puetz- Chapters of Life
Todd Goodman- Tuba Concerto

Euphonium Featured in a Solo Role:
*Vanja Lisjak- Concerto
Nickitas Demos- Tonoi IX
Ethan Wickman- Three Expeditions

Tuba-Euphonium Ensemble:
*Ethan Wickman- Summit
Marco Puetz- Five Open-Ended Pieces
Ryan McGeorge- Tubacus Galacticus

*Indicates winner in each category


ITEA Roger Bobo Awards for Excellence in Recording Finalists

Solo Classical Tuba:
Øystein Baadsvik – Ferry Tales (BIS)
Øystein Baadsvik – Snowflakes (BIS)
Velvet Brown – Simply Velvet (Potenza)
Sérgio Carolino/Portuguese Symphonic Wind Ensemble – A Portuguesa (AFINAUDIO)
*Les Neish – Shine (Doyen)

Solo Classical Euphonium:
*David Childs – Moto Perpetuo (Independent)
Demondrae Thurman – Songs of a Wayfarer (Summit)
Glenn Van Looy – Move Their Mind (Independent)

Jazz/Rock/Fusion/Commercial Tuba or Euphonium:
David Bandman – Can I Play Too (Independent)
*The Postcard Brass Band – Pop & Roll (Loft)
Roland Szentpáli – Parallels (Potenza)
TGB – Evil Things (Clean Feed)

Chamber Music/Large Ensemble
2tUBAS & friends – In Memoriam (Independent)
Eufonix Quartet – End Game (Potenza)
*Jay Hunsberger (tuba) and James Wilson (horn) – Ooompah Suites: Sweets for Horn & Tuba (Summit)
Melton Tuba Quartett – Grand Concerto 4 Tubas (Acousence)

ITEA Lifetime Achievement Awards:

Chuck Daellenbach
David Werden
Rolf Wilhelm


Rolf Wilhelm

ITEA Distinguished Service Award:

Klemens Pröpper