Tubonium 5 in Review
Paul Budde, Chairperson
One week has now passed since Tubonium 5 (March 8–10, 2007, Gustavus Adolphus College, St. Peter, MN), but the events of last weekend remain alive and well in my mind’s eye! What a treat! Tubonium 5 featured Alan Baer on tuba, Benjamin Pierce on euphonium, and the St. Olaf Tuba and Euphonium Ensemble under the direction of Paul Niemisto. Attendees of all ages were able to take in great music and a wealth of new knowledge, not to mention a whole lot of inspiration from being around and getting to know our guest artists. It was truly an event to remember and one that will shape me as a teacher and performer for years to come. Although words never compare to experiencing this type of event firsthand, I will do my best to summarize the happenings of last weekend.
Gustavus Adolphus College Tuba-Euphonium Ensemble with Guest Artists
Solo Competition Winners Mark Carlson and Andrew Larson with competition sponsor Dick Carlson
Benjamin Pierce , euphonium and tuba instructor from the University of Arkansas served as our featured euphonium artist. In a word, wow! I think for any event, the music is what comes to mind first. Ben performed twice at Tubonium, once as a soloist with our High School All-Star Ensemble (a group made up of Minnesota’s finest young low brass players) and again in a solo recital. Ben’s performance of Flight of the Bumblebee definitely created a buzz —our high school ensemble members were entranced, as they heard not only their first live performance of this piece but a fantastic rendition as well. What a treat to put this together! Ben followed this feature piece with an outstanding solo recital . Ben displayed virtuosic technique in his performance of Cyberspace (Peter Graham) and Moto Perpetuo (Niccolo Paganini). I have some attendees that are still convinced that there was more than one person playing. I was struck most, however, by his big and round tone, something particularly showcased in a terrific performance of the “Prelude” from Suite No. I in G Major for solo cello (J.S. Bach). It was a wonderful recital!
Tuba Solo Competition Finalists (Mark McGinnis, Matthew Muszynski, and Andrew Larson) with Alan Baer
Ben also served as a clinician for Tubonium 5 . On Friday, he led a Mass Euphonium Master Class as he shared ideas of what he does in his own practice time. While he stressed the importance of having a routine to work on fundamentals, he also talked about making your routine anything but routine and instead promoted having flexibility in what you practice; your “routine” should be flexible to the extent that you are highlighting and polishing the challenges that you find in your current music (solos and otherwise) rather than being rigid and unchanging. Ben also led a clinic session on CD Recording for Tuba and Euphonium . In this session, Ben discussed the preparation process for recording, such as personal music preparation and budget concerns, gear issues for recording, and practical ideas for the recording session itself. The timeliness of this session was fun with Ben’s new release Wheels of Life —if you haven’t heard his euphonium or tuba playing, be sure to check this out!
Alan Baer’s Excerpts and Auditions Clinic Session
Alan Baer’s Mass Tuba Master Class
Alan Baer , principal tuba in the New York Philharmonic, served as our featured tuba artist. Again, I was blown away by the music. As the closing concert for Tubonium 5 , Alan’s solo recital was an exclamation point that tied our workshop together and was just a treat to hear—what a sound! I was particularly impressed with his performance of the Strauss Horn Concerto No. 1 and the Gregson Tuba Concerto, even after having heard several outstanding renditions of the first movement of the Gregson in the final round of the Tubonium Solo Competition earlier that day. As I waited in line to congratulate Alan after the recital was over, I overheard another person saying, “I have never heard such connection from note to note before, in slurring and in tonguing—he was amazing!” The polish that he played with only added to the wonderful phrasing and music making—it was a fantastic performance!
Alan also served as a clinician for Tubonium 5 . Like Ben, Alan led a Mass Tuba Master Class . In his session, Alan talked about his approach to practicing with a drum machine. As he worked with attendees on tuba-euphonium ensemble music, he utilized this tool and discussed how rhythm and breathing are intertwined, as well as the importance of finding the inner groove of the music that you’re playing. Alan also discussed some core ideas such as the importance of an embouchure “set” in order to create a great vibration and the importance of an air stream that is always in motion/never stopped.
Ask the Experts Panel Members Roger Lewis, Paul Kile, and Ben Pierce
In addition to this general master class, Alan also led an Excerpts and Auditions Master Class . In this session, Alan discussed the mentality of going through an audition process, especially the importance of staying positive in a process that takes repetition and continued learning and growth. At the core of this session was the idea of taking control of your audition experience. He suggested making a list of all the things that you would like to accomplish, and then reviewing that list to see exactly what you have control of; in this regard, he talked about issues of equipment (tuba, mouthpiece, tuning and slide issues), diet, and the physical set up of your performance (chairs, tuba stands). He then worked with three outstanding volunteers on Wagner’s Ride , Prokofiev’s Symphony No. 5, and Mahler’s Symphony No. 1 and shared excerpt specific ideas and practice strategies. What a fantastic learning experience for all!
Ben Pierce in Recital
Euphonium Solo Competition Finalists with Ben Pierce (Tony Carlson, Donald Bruce, and Mark Carlson)
Alan’s appearance at Tubonium was made possible in part from the generous support of Meinl-Weston and Gerhard Meinl —thank you!!
We also welcomed the St. Olaf Tuba and Euphonium Ensemble, under the direction of Paul Niemisto , to Tubonium 5 . The group played with much polish and precision—a very fine performance! In addition to full ensemble pieces, there were two chamber features as well, one a tuba-euphonium duet, and the other a trio that added piano to the mix. It was a pleasure having them as a part of the workshop—bravo!
Paul Budde conducting the Mass Ensemble
Two other clinic sessions were presented at a part of Tubonium 5 . The first was an “Ask the Experts Panel Discussion” with panelists Roger Lewis, Ben Pierce, and Paul Kile . In this session, each panelist introduced himself and told about how he came to his current job. The floor was then opened up for questions. Items discussed included: doubling on tuba and euphonium, issues regarding performance vs. playing in a practice room, and ways to move toward the goal of teaching at the collegiate level. Our diverse panel presented many practical ideas—thanks for sharing your wisdom with us!
The final clinic session was on Stage Fright and was presented by Roger Lewis . Roger shared very helpful ideas about preparing for a performance to set oneself up for success. A central idea was “leaving nothing undone in the practice room.” Roger talked about the issues that can come up from a lack of preparation, and how this can lead to a performance on stage where things can spiral out of control. He then presented a number of practical ideas that can help (beyond arriving at the performance with complete readiness), such as taking a double breath before playing to help with air issues, remembering to play for yourself while “letting the audience be there,” and living in the present as you play rather than dwelling in the past. It was an excellent presentation on a topic that we don’t hear enough about.
Paul Budde, Alan Baer, and Ben Pierce.jpg
Paul Niemisto with the St. Olaf Tuba-Euphonium Ensemble
Rounding out Tubonium 5 were the Gustavus Adolphus College Tuba and Euphonium Ensemble in the opening concert, the 3 rd Annual Tubonium Solo Competition, the Tubonium Mass Ensemble Performance, and the High School All-Star Tuba and Euphonium Concert. I was very proud of the Gustavus Adolphus College Tuba-Euphonium Ensemble, a group that I now have the honor of conducting, as we performed for the first time together. Our concert featured full ensemble pieces as well as a student quartet performance. I look forward to more fun making music with them!
Paul Kile and I also had the chance to work with the Tubonium 5 High School All-Star Ensemble —this group is always a highlight of the workshop for me as I have the chance to interact with some talented and energetic young musicians. They were truly a joy to have on campus, and I thoroughly enjoyed making music with them.
I would like to congratulate our Tubonium 5 Solo Competition Finalists and Winners : euphoniums Donald Bruce , Anthony Carlson , and Mark Carlson (winner), and tubas Mark McGinnis , Matthew Muszynski , and Andrew Larson (winner). Thank you to all of our competitors for your hard work, and congratulations on your accomplishments!
Last but definitely not least, I would like to thank each of our Exhibitors for being an important part of our workshop: Balu Mutes , Jupiter , J.W. Pepper Music , the Music Mart , Tubadome , and Yamaha . It was a great pleasure having them at our workshop!
Roger Lewis’s Stage Fright Clinic Session
I leave another Tubonium workshop feeling inspired and refreshed. I will look forward to Tubonium 6 , scheduled for March 13–15, 2008. I hope that you can join us next year!
Paul J. Budde
Euphonium and Tuba Instructor
Gustavus Adolphus College
Tubonium 6 – March 13-15, 2008