Saturday, March 29, 2014

Thoughts about a masterclass...

Yesterday, Professor Gusztav Hona from the "Liszt Ferenc" Music Academy in Budapest, Hungary and the Corpus Trombone Quartet were the guests of The University of Iowa Trombone Studio. In the afternoon preceding the guest recital, selected members from the trombone studio had an opportunity to perform for Prof. Hona. Excerpts form Mozart to Mahler were heard, as well as solos.
It is quite interesting to hear the slightly different style, or approach if you will (the so called "European" style) to some technical and stylistic aspects of trombone playing. Even if certain concepts might be more or less different at times, the elements of basic musicianship are always the biggest problem when students perform. It is always the small details which constitute the problem. Intonation and rhythm deficiencies are the most common issue !!!
Great musicians  are always very sensitive to those elements regardless of where they trained and which "trombone playing school" they belong to.
It's always a well invested and extraordinary important time to check on tuning, rhythm accuracy and variety of articulations when we practice...just to name a few important basics.
Quality over quantity !

Thursday, March 27, 2014

CSO Brass Concerts

In my first post I mentioned briefly the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Brass. I would like to expand this topic a little bit...
Known for the unique, brilliant and powerful sound they produce, the brass players of the CSO have gained worldwide admiration for their performances with the orchestra, and for their chamber music adventures as well.
The CSO Brass started giving occasional concerts independently in the 1970's. Today the group performs in Orchestra Hall, usually during the month of December.
Besides the priceless benefits of their highly inspirational concerts, the group has been performing many original pieces and arrangements, therefore enriching the brass ensemble repertoire.
Members of the brass section are horn players Daniel Gingrich, James Smelser, David Griffin, Oto Carrillo and Susanna Drake; trumpets Christopher Martin, Mark Ridenour, John Hagstrom and Tage Larsen; trombones Jay Friedman, Michael Mulcahy and Charles Vernon; and tuba Gene Pokorny.

Hidas, a great composer of brass music

Hidas Frigyes was born in Budapest, Hungary in 1928. After finishing his studies in composition at the "Ferenc Liszt" Music Academy, he became the Music Director of the National Theatre (1951 - 1966) and between 1974 and 1979 he held the same position at the Budapest Municipal Operetta Theatre.
Hidas was a highly prolific composer, especially known around the world for
his woodwind and brass chamber music and for his works for wind-orchestra instruments and chamber music. His compositions reflect his belief in tunes and harmonies in a traditional sense of those terms. The music is challenging, yet accessible.  Throughout his career, Hidas received numerous commissions by Ballet Companies, the Hungarian State Opera House, Radio stations, Universities and various musical societies.

Slokar Trombone Quartet

One of the most successful trombone quartets in the world for the last 35 years was founded in Europe by the great trombone soloist and teacher, Branimir Slokar. 
Born in Maribor, Slovenia, Slokar decided to dedicate his life to music when he won the first prize as a trombonist at the 7th Yugoslav music contest in Zagreb.
In 1969 he finished his sudies with excellent results at the Music Academy in Ljubjana and then he went to Paris to continue his studies at the Conservatoire National Superieur de Musique. He won several prizes, among others he won the prestigious International ARD Music Competition in Munich.

The Slokar Quartet has toured all over the world and since they started performing together the group has released eleven recordings including a very broad repertoire which ranges from arrangements of early baroque music to first performances of contemporary works.
Many important contemporary composers have been inspired to collaborate intensively with the Slokar Quartet, which has led to a significant expansion of present-day trombone literature.


Monday, March 24, 2014

Eliot Carter - Brass Quintet

Composed in 1974 for the American Brass Quintet, the Eliot Carter Brass Quintet is truly a unique challenge for the performers and the audience alike. For the performers, it is an incredible task to overcome mainly the technical and rhythmical challenges. For the audience the sound-world created by Carter could be something completely new, unusual rather, especially coming from the instruments of a brass quintet.
The composition leaves very little room for the listener to anchor his/her ears on harmonic or melodic segments. The complex rhythms are the real driving force here, thus creating an interesting sonic world.
The work was premiered by the ABQ in London at the Charles Ives Festival and about a month later received its US debut. It is recorded on the ABQ album titled "Classic American Brass."

Saturday, March 22, 2014

ITA Interviews

Last year I got involved with a project initiated by the International Trombone Association to conduct video interviews with important trombone players and teachers around. I became the "midwest representative" for this project, and soon after a first interview took place with Pete Ellefson, trombone soloist and professor at Indiana University. The plan is to continue this project with players from the Chicago area and continuing with as many interviews as possible. Having no previous experience at all in this kind of endeavours, I wasn't sure what to expect. The interview turned out to be a fantastic experience and a great opportunity to have an in depth and multifaceted conversation about trombone playing, teaching and life as a trombonist in general.
Please check out the members section on the ITA website for the interview with Pete and other ones as well. Enjoy !

Corpus Trombone Quartet

 In 2001 four graduates of the "Liszt Ferenc" Music Academy in Budapest, Hungary decided to form a trombone quartet. The CTQ was born shortly after and the group quickly emerged as one of the leading trombone quartets in Hungary by winning the special prize of the jury at the 7th International Brass Chamber Competition in Passau, Germany, only three months into their existence as a quartet. This initial success was followed by many international distinctions such as: 2001. International Brass Competition, Passau, Germany, Special Prize; 2003. ITA Trombone Quartet Competition, Helsinki, Finnland, 1. Prize; 2003. Philip Jones Brass Competition, Guebwiller, France, 1. Prize; 2004. International Brass Competititon, Passau, Germany, 4. Prize; 2004. Jan Koetsier Trombone Quartet Competition, Munich, Germany, 1. Prize; 2006. Special Prize of The Best Chamber Group in Hungary Special Prize of Hungarian Stars; 2008. Artisjus Prize; 2010. 11th International Brass Competition Passau, Germany 1st Prize; 2011. Artisjus Prize.
All these successes propelled the group to an international recognition. CTQ has travelled all over the world playing recitals and giving masterclasses. 
Corpus is sponsored by Michael Rath Trombones. Please check out their website for tour dates and other info.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Gaudete Brass Quintet

Recently I had a chance to sit down and have a long discussion followed by lunch with Scott Tegge the tuba player from the Chicago based Gaudete Brass Quintet. This young and energetic group is quickly emerging as one of the great brass ensembles in the Chicago area and they are on the fast track to become one of the most respected brass quintets around.
Having commissioned roughly about 40 new pieces for brass quintet, the goal of the GBQ is to "present serious brass chamber music through compelling concerts, to commission new works and release adventurous recordings."
Please check out their recordings ( three so far ) and support them as they are actively contributing to the ever needed brass quintet repertoire.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Les Sacqueboutiers

Les Sacqueboutiers is an ensemble from the city of  Toulouse in the southwestern part of France. Formed more than 30 years ago, the group performs exclusively on early brass instruments and they are regarded today as one of the finest ensembles of this kind in the world. Led by artistic directors and Toulouse Music Conservatory professors Jean-Pierre Canihac on cornett and Daniel Lasalle on sackbut, Les Sacqueboutiers are considered a leading authority in the interpretation of the 17th century instrumental music. The ensemble can be heard on over 20 award winning recordings as well as live performances at major music festivals around the world.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Giovanni Gabrieli - Sacrae Symphoniae

The great Italian composer and organist Giovanni Gabrieli composed his sacred concerto titled "Sacrae Symphoniae" in 1597. In Venice, where Gabrielli worked as organist of the St. Mark Cathedral, it was in practice in the late 16th century to combine instrumental groups, mainly winds, with voices.
 In the recording below, we can hear a great rendition of Gabrielli's sound world, especially because the piece is performed on period instruments. "Les Saqboutieres", an ensemble based in Toulouse, France performs exclusively on period brass instruments. (more about them in a future post). Enjoy !