Tuba Argentine: Patricio Cosentino
by Jennifer Jester
One of the newest geographical locations experiencing an influx of tuba and euphonium activity is South America, and, specifically, Argentina. With many musicians traveling abroad to undertake studies on our instruments, many are returning to their countries to serve as noted professionals and ambassadors of our instruments. Recently, some of this activity was documented by American euphoniumist Jason Ham is his summary of the Argentinean tuba/euphonium festival, Encounter of Tuba and Euphoniums, published in the Volume 35:3 Spring Issue. It is only appropriate to further highlight one of the most active professionals in South America and host of this festival, Patricio Cosentino, in an effort to better inform our international community of this growing activity.
: Patricio Cosentino
How did you start playing the tuba?
Well that is a long story. My father was a salesman for Volkswagen, and he had to taken a German Language Technical course at the German school in Temperley (Argentina). He took this language course and liked how they taught, and he decided that his children would attend this school. Well, we went to the school. At this school we had, like at most Argentinean schools, music lessons. My first music teacher here was Nelly Semeria. When I was in the fourth grade, we began to learn the recorder. My year was the first to learn the recorder. That is funny because my mother bought my recorder and music books, and I kept going every week to the music lessons, but I never learned to read music because I always looked at my friends and copied their fingers. This worked for the next three years!
When I was in the 7th Grade, at the beginning of this school year, came a really, really big man, 2 metres tall, and his name was Martin Huss. He stood in front of the class and asked us if we wanted to learn to play brass instruments. He brought and played a trumpet and a trombone. He was the conductor of the Posaunenchor Temperley. That is a traditional group from the German Lutheran Church. He took all of our details and called our parents to attend the church on the next Saturday. When we arrived we did wind exercises and then had a meeting with our fathers, where he explained how it would work. Well, on the third Saturday, we received our mouthpieces, and the following weekend the conductor made an exhibition of brass instruments where we could see learn further about the brass instruments.
On this Saturday, I wasn’t there because I had a game. On the next Saturday the conductor gave us our instruments. Of course the other children knew the names of the instruments and chose their instruments. The conductor came to me and asked me what I wanted to play. At this time I only knew the piston valve trumpet, and, for me, the rotary valve trumpet seemed weird! And, I told him that I wanted to play the weird trumpet! So he gave me a really old and oxidized German baritone!
Tuba students from the 2nd Argentinean Tuba and Euphonium Worshop (2005)
I took the thing and went home. At the first rehearsal, I was playing the bass of all the baritones. One year later I received a four-valve baritone, and I was still playing the low parts. Two years later I heard the full Posaunenchor, where there was a tuba player, who was Pedro Pulzovan, the current tubist in the Opera Orchestra from Teatro Colon. When I saw this thing, I wanted to play it because it was big and powerful! I began with the baritone at age 11, and, when I was 15, I got my first tuba! It was an old b-flat tuba that I had to clean before I could even play it!
Where did this take you?
I played with the Posaunenchor until I was 18. We began in the Posaunenchor in March and played our first concert in December. Our group was made of 40 children. After the first year, we began many activities with this group. We rehearsed every Saturday from 9 am to 9 pm, and we also made two or three weeklong workshops per year. The teachers were from Argentina and Germany. We performed many community concerts for senior audiences, church functions, and also our own concerts away from the church. When I was 17, I was still playing tuba, and I won the position in the Youth Orchestra at the Teatro Colon. Playing in the Teatro Colon gave me the possibility to make contact with professional orchestras like the Chicago Symphony, New York Philharmonic, St. Petersburg Philharmonic, Kirov Ballet Orchestra, Berlin Philharmonic, Gürzenich Köln, and many others. Because I was in the Youth Orchestra, I met the tubists from these great orchestras and asked them for lessons. I had great luck, and took lessons with most them.
Argentinean Tuba Quartet
In Argentina it was really difficult to study tuba, because there are no official tuba teachers to learn from at the conservatories. That is why it was fantastic to take at least one lesson from these great players! Two years later at age 19, I won my first professional position in the Orquesta Estable del Teatro Argentino de La Plata. It was an opera orchestra 50 kilometers away from the city centre of Buenos Aries.
During this time, I had the financial possibility to travel and attend many workshops and lessons. For example, I spent two months at the University of Georgia and studied with David Zerkel. In October 2001, I attended the German Brass Academy in Krefeld and the Sauerrland Herbst 2001 with Jon Sass. I worked in this orchestra until December 2001, when the Argentinian Economy collapsed. The orchestra made many musicians redundant, and unfortunately I was one of them. On 6th March 2002, I won the Tuba position at the Orquesta Sinfonica de Salta. It is about 1600 Km Northwest of Buenos Aries. Since I was 15, I knew that I wanted to be a professional tuba player. With the small possibilities to study tuba in Argentina, I had thought about studying outside from Argentina. That was a really nice idea, but finances were a problem.
After my travels and workshops in 2001, I decided to go to Germany and study with Walter Hilgers. I spoke with him at the German Brass Academy and asked him about the possibility of studying with him. He invited me to come to Germany to undertake studies. My plan was to save money from my work in La Plata and go to Germany. When the economy collapsed, and I lost my job, my future was not so clear. I took the position in Salta, and worked the 2002 season and saved money. In August 2002, German Brass came to Argentina. I took lessons again with Walter Hilgers, and he wrote a letter for my scholarship applications. I bought my plane ticket to do my audition for the University Franz Liszt in Weimar. I passed my audition in February 2003, and began studying in April with Walter Hilgers. Six months later I began my first project with the Jungen Deutschenn Blechbläsersolisten (jdbs), under the direction of Walter Hilgers. Whilst I was studying at the university I made the audition for the Orchestral Traineeship at the Dortmunder Philharmoniker, and won this position for the season 2004–2005. I was very lucky to play many concerts with the orchestra.
During this tenure, I took two holiday semesters from the university. I returned to the university for only one semester because in December 2005 I won the position at the Orquesta Sinfonica Nacional Argentina. I finished the semester in Germany and took two more holiday semesters to return to Argentina and work for the 2006 season. My orchestra gave me the possibility to take two years off and return to Germany to finish my university studies with Walter Hilgers. I am currently still in Germany studying and will be finished in February 2009, when I will return home and resume my position with the Orquesta Sinfonica Nacional Argentina.
Argentinean Tuba Quartet
What types of music did you play as a young musician in your home country?
Because I began playing in the Posaunenchor, I played a lot of German church music, lots of double choirs (Gabrieli, Mendelssohn, Hans Leo Hassler), and a lot of brass ensemble literature (Philip Jones, German Brass, Canadian Brass, Empire Brass, etc.) and with the Youth Orchestra a lot of orchestral works—mostly classical music.
Currently, what types of music interest you the most?
Of course classical music, but I have a large interest in tango, especially with the tuba, bandoneón, and piano. But, I am a pure classical musician because I think, and this is only my opinion, that it is not possible to control the classical styles and the million different styles of popular music at the same time. I really enjoy playing tango and other directions of popular music, but I do that only for my pleasure!
I have also worked with a free improvisation style group when I was in Argentina. This group was conducted by a popular percussionist named Santiago Vazquez, and he conducted this through special signals that he had created.
Concert with the brass ensemble Jungen Deutschenn Blechbläsersolisten in the Stephanis Church
Who are some prominent composers of tuba-euphonium music?
Well, some of the most prominent South American composers of tuba euphonium music are Jorge Tagliapietra, Roberto Pintos, Fernando Morais, Ariel Calvis, and Adriana Figueroa Mañas. Of course there are many others, but I have had contact with and worked with the previous composers. They have written many new tuba works that will be available in August 2008 (visit www.blechpress.de).
I washed it and now it is smaller!
Can you describe your teaching and the learning environment where you teach?
At the moment I don’t have a full teaching position. I have five private students in Argentina, who I teach when I am there. I have a small contract with the University Franz Liszt in Weimar to teach tuba students who are studying tuba as a secondary instrument in conjunction with their education degree. I also have many invitations to teach when I return to Argentina.
Performing Landscape for tuba and string orchestra in the auditorium of the School of Music Franz Liszt in Weimar (Kiril Stankow, conductor).
Can you summarize your tuba-euphonium festival you host annually?
Well, the festival that I am involved with, I actually created. It is funny because I have suffered for many years without a regular tuba teacher, and I always had the idea to do something where people could come to learn. At the end of 2004, Araceli Rodriguez, she has the tuba position at the Orquesta Sinfonica de Rosario, pushed me to organize a workshop for tuba and euphonium. I told her that it is a really big job, and I don’t know how much interest there would be in such an event. I began to build a database of euphonium and tuba players from South America, and in two weeks I found 120 players. One of the big motivations to do this was that Araceli had found a really big venue with free accommodations for the workshop. This was really helpful. For this first conference, the teachers were Hugo Migliore (solo euphonium at the Buenos Aries Symphonic Wind Band) and myself on tuba.
We based the workshop in the province of Santa Fe, 400 kilometers north of Buenos Aries. My idea was always that if I began to do something like this it must be regular, and it must aim to build a platform for students to learn. And, that they have the opportunities to have what I didn’t. It is funny because Araceli never came to one of the workshops! Since the first workshop in 2005, we have held one every year. The second year involved one more teacher (Eudardo Lopez, also tuba in the Buenos Aries Symphonic Wind Band). With the third, the festival has grown a lot.
For the 2007, we had six teachers for tuba and euphonium, one for music medicine, and one for music theory. The teachers for the third year were euphoniums Hugo Migliore, Jason Ham, and Ignacio del Campo and tubas Eduardo Lopez, Vasile Babuseacm and myself. For music medicine was Nuria Alvarez and theory, the Argentinean composer Aitana Kasulin.
For the 2008 workshop I had the idea to invite two international musicians—one for tuba and one for euphonium. My idea was to invite Steven Mead and Øystein Baadsvik. When I contacted both, they were really excited to take their first trip to South America, and they have helped us a lot. For this year we have some new and exciting ideas. For example we began last year with a group of two children (9 years old), and this year we are waiting to confirm a group of 10–15 children (between 8 and 11 years old), and for them we have special activities with Alejandra Coiro, who is Professor of Musical Arts, licensed psychologist and teacher of Dalcroze Rhythmic. She is also a practitioner of Fedora Aberasturi, who invented the conscient system of bodily movement. Of course, the workshop also focuses on many points, but the main one is to learn from each other and make music together. That is why we the have the workshop—chamber music, massed euphonium and tuba ensemble, orchestral and wind band training, individual lessons, musical theory, medicine for musicians, recitals and concerts with different ensembles, and of course recitals from our fantastic international artists.
Teachers from the 1st workshop for Trombone, Euphonium and Tuba y Lima, Peru: Iain Hunter, Carlos Quiroz, Cosentino, and Javier Colomer
Although I am the founder and organizer of the Encuentro Argentino de Tubas y Eufonios (Editor’s note: Please see Jason Ham’s article spring issue summarizing this year’s festival), I am also involved in many other workshops throughout South America, such as Peru Low Brass and Trombonanza.
To an American, often we think about Argentina as the home of the tango, and many are unaware that there is a rich classical music tradition in Argentina. What would you say Argentina is like for a tubist?
Trying mouthpieces in Werner Schmidt shop with Prof. Walter Hilgers, Markneukirchen, Germany
(L-R) Stefan Kaundinya, Prof. Walter Hilgers, and Cosentino
Well, today for an educated tuba player, Argentina is a really good place to be, because there is a lot of work—such as teaching and solo playing—and it is necessary to have more educated tuba players than what we now have. There are opportunities to play in professional wind bands, orchestras, popular music, and all other ensembles where the tuba is required.
For euphonium players?
For euphonium players it is maybe a little harder because we have large public wind bands, but these euphonium positions are already taken. There are many opportunities in military wind bands and teaching positions, popular music, and to play in different ensembles like tango, brass ensemble, and tuba quartet, etc. There are many opportunities. And, even more, there are opportunities if the players have great imaginations and to use the euphonium in ensembles where it has never been before.
Percussion and tuba players from the Jungen Deutschen Blechbläsersolisten
Just to get an idea, how many professional orchestras are functional in your country?
There are really many symphonies, all over the country. Of course Buenos Airies through the Teatro Colon gain the most publicity, but we have around 40 professional symphony orchestras across the country.
Are there organizations or groups in Argentina for tuba and euphonium?
Student Ericson Reyes and Brazilian Euphonium Professor Wilson Diaz at the 1st workshop for Trombone, Euphonium and Tuba y Lima, Peru
If you mean like ITEA, at the moment there are none. But I have had the idea since the first workshop in Argentina to create one for Argentinean euphonium and tuba players. However, this is a really big job, which I currently don’t have time for because of my studies in Germany. However, hopefully in the near future something will begin.
Are tubists and euphoniumists isolated from each other from country to country within South America, or do people more or less know each other?
When I began the workshop in Argentina, I was personally unaware of many tuba players in South America, and, in my opinion, one of the big problems for tuba and euphonium players in South America is that they have no contact with each other. The workshop in Argentina tries to make this distance less. And right now, thanks to the Internet, many tuba and euphonium players keep in touch from many different countries.
Jungen Deutschen Blechbläsersolisten
How can we learn more about Latin American musicians and the music they play? What resources?
It is really difficult because there are not many tuba and euphonium players that have their own websites. If I want to find someone, I have to ask 20 people before I actually find what I want on the Internet. Another problem is the language, because if you don’t speak Spanish, right now it is very difficult to find information about South American players. But, from the USA, the only way that I see is to look on the Internet or to travel.
However, currently, there are no such websites based on South America such as ITEAonline.org or TubaNews.com
With the students from the 3rd workshop for Trombone, Euphonium and Tuba y Lima, Peru
What would you like to see ITEA do to help bring more awareness to Spanish speaking countries?
Where do I begin….I think that ITEA needs the opinion of one South American tuba and euphonium player on the board because the problems that we have is different than the problems in North America, and through having a South American member, our ideas and problems can be explained to the board.
The first point that I think ITEA can help us with is to give us the possibility to pay our membership to ITEA at a price which is affordable to South Americans, and to translate all of the ITEA Journal into Spanish as well, like the Brass Bulletin did for a few years.
That will close the gap between our current lack of knowledge and to help us to be more aware of the international scene. Another major point that I see is that on the ITEA Executive Board, there is only one non-American, and, right now at this time, many things have happened in South America.
Many euphonium and tuba players who have studied outside of South America are now returning home and are trying to pass their knowledge to the people who are now students. It will be really important for us that ITEA helps us in every way that they can!
The tango orchestra Antigua Fray Pimento
For example Jason Ham has written an article, which will was published in the spring issue, to send us one or two noted teachers or representatives so that this person can give us advice and he can learn what would especially serve us. Also, invitations for South American professional tuba and euphonium players and ensembles to perform as ITEA’s International Tuba Euphonium Conference (ITEC), so that we can interact with each other and to have the possibility to show our music.
Another possibility would be to help us organize instrument exhibitions at workshops, so that we can become aware of the different brands of instruments available, as currently there is only a very small range available.
In the end, our best solution for the South American tuba-euphonium community is a manner in which we can voice our opinions via a South American member on the ITEA board.
For additional information, please visit patriciocosentino.com.