The 22nd Leonard Falcone Festival
by Deanna Swoboda
The 22nd annual Leonard Falcone Euphonium and Tuba Festival was held at the Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp August 11–13, 2007. As always there were many talented tuba and euphonium players competing for cash prizes. Congratulations to the festival winners and thank you to all of the contestants for your preparation and participation!
Final Artist Euphonium
1st Philip Eberly, student of Brian Bowman at University of North Texas
2nd Christopher Buckley, student of Brian Bowman at University of North Texas
3rd Jessica Powell, student of Brian Bowman at University of North Texas
Final Artist Tuba
1st Beth McDonald, student of Skip Gray at University of Kentucky
2nd Beth Weise, student of Marty Erickson at Lawrence University
3rd David McLemore, student of Jim Self at University of Southern California
Final Student Euphonium
1st Cassie Black, student of Brian Bowman at University of North Texas
2nd Kevin E. Phillips II, student of James Ferden at Clawson High School, Michigan
3rd Daniel Zimmicky, student of Lois Alexander at University of Michigan – Flint
Final Student Tuba
1st Ibanda Ruhumbika, student of Heather Noyes-Richter, Cedar Shoals Hight School, Georgia
2nd Lyndsey Hoh, student of Jason Wallace, Sachse High School, Texas
3rd Travis Sanders, student of Donald Little at University of North Texas
The Festival began featuring the President’s Own United States Marine Band Tuba Quartet. Quartet members John Cradler, Mark Thiele, Mark Jenkins, and Ryan McGeorge performed several world premieres for tuba-euphonium quartet by composers such as Brian Balmages, Stephen Bulla, Daniel McCarthy, Craig Thomas Naylor, and Mark Thiele. The members of the quartet would like to share their impressions and experiences of the festival. Here is what they had to say.
Adjudicators for the 2007 Falcone Festival (L-R) Mark Jenkins, Mark Theile, Ryan McGeorge, Matt Tropman, Deanna Swoboda, Marty Erickson, Mark Cox, John Cradler, Tom Broka, and Phil Sinder.
John Cradler, tuba:
When Marty Erickson invited the U.S. Marine Band Tuba-Euphonium Quartet to be the guest artists at the 2007 Falcone Festival we were thrilled and honored. The Falcone Competition is the premier annual competition for our instruments, and it is a shining example of how one should be presented. During our stay at Blue Lake, I was constantly impressed by the high level of organization and professionalism demonstrated by everyone involved.
Philip Ebberly, 1st Place Euphonium Artist
As we listened to the preliminary and final rounds, I found myself thinking about how far performance has come on our instruments in the last few decades. Works that were the realm of professionals and graduate students 20 years ago were now being played, (well, I might add) by undergraduate students. I believe this speaks to the constantly increasing quality of pedagogy being developed for our instruments. As the tuba and euphonium mature, the repertoire grows along with the skill level of the players. And, as the skills of the musicians are challenged by events like the Falcone Festival, pedagogy develops further. Tuba and euphonium players of today are riding the crest of a “wave of development” similar to that of the stringed instruments which happened centuries ago. How fortunate we are to be playing these instruments now. It truly is an exciting time for us.
The Falcone Festival brings together musicians who are both seasoned and developing in a very supportive atmosphere. The result is a new “crop” of young players who will continue to push the envelope of performance on our instruments. They will be the leaders in our profession in the decades to come, as is evidenced by the photo galleries from Falcone Festivals of yesteryear. Our thanks to everyone at the Falcone Festival, and keep up the great work!
Tuba Student 1st place winner Ibanda Ruhumbika with Beryl Falcone
Mark Jenkins, euphonium:
Coming back to the Leonard Falcone Tuba and Euphonium Festival this summer was an exciting experience. Its been seven years since I last participated in the festival, so being back and catching up with Beryl Falcone, Sue Topping, and “the elves” felt somewhat like a family reunion. A large portion of the success of this festival and its continual growth and improvement over the years is due to the dedicated and caring staff of volunteers who do so much for guest artists and competitors alike.
The Marine Band Tuba Quartet felt privileged to be asked by the Falcone Board to be guest artists at this year’s conference. We were also very fortunate to have four prominent and well-known composers, Brian Balmages, Steven Bulla, Daniel McCarthy, and Craig Naylor, write original works for the group to be premiered at the festival. In addition to them, our own Mark Thiele and Ryan McGeorge also contributed a few of their own compositions and arrangements to the program. These new pieces turned out to be somewhat of a departure from any tuba quartet music our group had ever performed before. They managed to span almost the entire spectrum of musical styles, from the aleatoric Morning Rain by Craig Naylor to the quasi-jazz style of Daniel McCarthy’s Knock Yourself Out. Many of the pieces called for one or more percussion and combo players to augment the quartet as well as requiring us to pick up percussion instruments and play along. All of these new pieces were absolutely wonderful to work up and perform with the quartet and, hopefully, should soon be available to the public through each composer’s publisher.
As one of the guest judges of the competition, I enjoyed all of the great performances that I heard in both the semi-final and final rounds. In my opinion, the repertoire this year was very musically demanding for the soloists. This being said, however, I felt that they really came through with great expressiveness and intensity in their playing throughout the competition. Also, I was impressed at how professionally the student and artist level participants carried themselves both during performances and afterwards among their fellow competitors. It was very impressive! “Bravo!” to all of this year’s Falcone Festival contestants.
Euphonium Student, Cassie Black, winner with Beryl Falcone
Ryan McGeorge, euphonium:
Since I have been a member of the Marine Band I have been fortunate enough to participate in many amazing events and performances. So far being able to participate in this years Falcone Festival has been without a doubt the most memorable event in which I have been associated through the band. I am just amazed by the level of dedication and integrity that is so obviously put on by all of the Falcone staff. This festival has become an extremely important landmark for any aspiring euphonium or tuba soloist. I want to thank everyone on the Falcone Board, staff, or otherwise that make this festival possible. The work you are doing is truly remarkable.
I was very honored to fill the role of one of the adjudicators this year. It was a responsibility I did not take lightly as I know the many hours of work each competitor has put in preparing for the competition. I have never judged at this high of a level before, and it was truly a treat to hear everyone perform. I was also very impressed with how many of the competitors were hungry for comments and criticisms, which to me is the whole point. I was glad to see so much passion for learning in all of the competitors, and I wish them all my best. I very much hope to be able to come back to the festival and participate in any capacity for many years down the road.
Tuba Artist, Beth McDonald, winner with Beryl Falcone
Mark Thiele, tuba:
Before we arrived at the 22nd Falcone Festival, I was expecting an intense atmosphere of competition and rivalry between some of the top young soloists in our little world of tuba and euphonium. I couldn’t have been more wrong! Now, I did hear some fantastic and inspiring playing over three days of competition, but I also experienced the incredible people who make this festival a fun and supportive event for many young musicians. Not only was our quartet welcomed with open arms, but also was every competitor who walked through the door. So I would like to start by thanking the “elves” who love the tuba and euphonium, and who make this a first rate event. They are Sue Topping, Jane and Doug Goodrich, Pete Marvin, John Waun, and, of course, the incomparable Beryl Falcone. Thank you all for treating us like we were your own children, and for helping young players feel special even if they don’t win. Thank you also to our fellow judges Phil Sinder, Tom Broka, Deanna Swoboda, Mark Cox, Matt Tropman, and Marty Erickson. Michigan and Wisconsin are fortunate to have all of you there. Thanks for having us, we had a great time.
The Falcone festival, for the USMB Tuba Quartet, was a whirlwind of performances, rehearsals, master classes, and judging. It’s hard to pinpoint all of the highlights, but I will do my best to fill you in on some of them.
The concert to open the festival featured five world premieres written for us in the past six months. Stephen Bulla, Brian Balmages, Daniel McCarthy, and Craig Naylor agreed to write brand new music just because we asked! I would like to encourage all tuba quartets out there to pick up this new music, as they are all great additions to the repertoire. We also featured three arrangements by Ryan McGeorge, former Falcone winner and current Marine Band euphoniumist.
On Saturday I judged the Artist Tuba Competition with John Cradler and Marty Erickson. I want congratulate all ten of the soloists that we heard during the two semi-final days. Keep up the good work! Another great experience was playing with the Blue Lake Festival Band at the expansive Stewart Shell. Mark Jenkins and Ryan McGeorge had 800 Blue Lake campers enthralled during their spectacular performance of The Carnival of Venice, and I played “The Carioca” with the band. John Cradler joined us for Vallflickans Dans, arranged by our own Mark Jenkins.
The week ended with the final competition on Monday afternoon where Cassie Black and Ibanda Ruhumbika took first place in the student levels. Monday night saw six great performances in the Artist level competition. I’ve never had so much trouble judging anything in my life! In the end it was Beth McDonald and Philip Eberly taking first place. Add a twelve-hour drive back to D.C. with four low brass players crammed in a mini-van, and you’ve got the perfect end to a great week!
If you take a look at the list of past Falcone winners, you will see a Who’s Who of current professional euphonium and tuba players. It will really amaze you! This festival is the real deal. We spent time with some special students, dedicated educators, and enthusiastic supporters of the tuba and euphonium. All of this in the beautiful woods of western Michigan! Congratulations to all who participated. You are the future of our profession.
A special thank you must also go to Beryl Falcone for her continued dedication and support and for carrying on the traditions of a world-class competition and festival. It is competitions such as this one that continue to raise the level of musicianship and quality of performer in the euphonium-tuba world. Thank you!
Please visit the Falcone Festival website, www.falconefestival.org, for information about next year’s competition.