Northwest Brass Festival

Don't miss the Northwest Brass Festival on March 7-8. Featured guests include Stephen Bulla, composer, conductor, and arranger--formerly staff arranger for the Presidents Own Marine Band--Charles Villarrubia, tubist with Rhythm and Brass and David Gordon, principal trumpet of the Seattle Smphony Orchestra. Highlights appear below.


Saturday, March 7

11:00 Exibits open
11:00 Masterclass: Charles Villarrubia
2:00-4:00 Youth Band
4:30 Youth band performance
7:00 Brass Band Concert


Sunday, March 8

1:30 exhibits open
2:00 Masterclass: Charles Villarrubia
3:30 Masterclass: David Gordon
5:00 Student Competition
7:30 Artist Concert

First Free Methodist Church 3301 3rd Ave W
Seattle, WA 98119
$25/day; $40/Festival
registration

The Northwest Brass Festival is hosted by Brass Band Northwest and Common Tone Arts.

Concert schedule - winter/spring, 2015

January 29 (Seattle) 7:00: Don Quixote with Pacific Northwest Ballet.
January 30 (Seattle) 7:30: Don Quixote with Pacific Northwest Ballet.
January 31 (Seattle)1:00 & 7:30: Don Quixote with Pacific Northwest Ballet.
February 20 (Seattle) 7:30: The Three Divas with Northwest Sinfonietta.
February 21 (Tacoma) 7:30: The Three Divas with Northwest Sinfonietta.
February 22 (Puyallup) 7:30: The Three Divas with Northwest Sinfonietta.
March 7 (Seattle) 7:00: Brass Band Northwest at the Northwest Brass Festival.
March 8 (Seattle) 7:00: Puget Sound Trumpet Ensemble at the Northwest Brass Festival.
March 15 (Bellevue) 2:30: American Landscapes with Brass Band Northwest at Bellevue Presbyterian Church.
March 22 (Tacoma) 2:30: Songs from the Emerald Isle with the Tacoma Symphony Orchestra.
April 2 (Bellevue) 7:30: Messiah with Lake Washington Symphony Orchestra and Westminster Chorale.
April 3 (Bellevue) 7:30: Messiah with Lake Washington Symphony Orchestra and Westminster Chorale.
April 14 (Tacoma) 10:00 & 11:30 AM: Simply Symphonic education concerts with the Tacoma Symphony Orchestra.
April 16 (Tacoma) 10:00 & 11:30 AM: Simply Symphonic education concerts with the Tacoma Symphony Orchestra.
May 2 (Bellevue) 7:30: Scheherazade with Brass Band Northwest at Bellevue Presbyterian Church
May 9 (Tacoma) 7:30: The Planets with Tacoma Symphony Orchestra.
May 15 (Seattle) 7:30: The Taiwanese Connection with Northwest Sinfonietta.
May 15 (Seattle) 7:30: The Taiwanese Connection with Northwest Sinfonietta.
May 15 (Seattle) 7:30: The Taiwanese Connection with Northwest Sinfonietta.

Performance comparison: "Intrada" by Arthur Honegger

Recently I was working with a student, Gavin Tranter, as he prepares for graduate school auditions; he is a junior, so the auditions are a little over a year away. He plans to audition for Charlie Geyer and Barbara Butler at Rice University, which means preparing Intrada by Arthur Honegger. The opening section of this work can be somewhat free in tempo and is, therefore, open to quite a variety of interpretations. I encouraged my student to listen to many recordings to open his mind to possibilities, so I opened up iTunes and we listened to a few 30 second previews.

The three trumpeters we chose were Thomas Hooten, Hakan Hardenberger and Wynton Marsalis all of whom are great musicians for whom I have the utmost respect. My comments are based on the thirty second snippet that is available as a free preview on iTunes. The differences were astounding, though not quite in the way I had planned. I encourage you to open iTunes, search "Honegger Intrada" and listen to these three performances--go ahead, I'll wait.

Intrada for Trumpet and Piano (feat. Rebecca Wilt): Thomas Hooten, trumpet from the album "Trumpet Call"
The opening repeatedly covers two and a half octaves quickly; Mr Hooten plays with an incredibly relaxed tone that belies the difficuty. I want to be Thomas Hooten.

Intrada: Hakan Hardenberger & Roland Pontinen from the album "Virtuoso Trumpet"
Mr Hardenberger is one of the most lyrical trumpeters on recording, yet here he shows more effort. Perhaps this is a choice, meaning, he wished to project greater brilliance, and yet I find the ease of Mr Hooten's performance more satisfying.

Intrada: Judith Lynn Stillman & Wynton Marsalis from the album "On the Twentieth Century"
The preview of Mr Marsalis' performance begins at the end of introduction. The lyric line begins on a low G and climbs two octaves in the space of a few measures. The top of the line is so abominably out of tune I had to listen a second time as I couldn't believe my ears; I couldn't believe that this was released! One must assume that a wrong take was chosen as Mr Marsalis is clearly capable of better.

Under this trumpet melody is a repeated G in the piano which sounds curiously muffled, as if Ms Stillman were intentionally muting the note to make it more percussive. I can't be sure whether this was an intentional detail or bad recording technique. If intentional, bravo to Ms Stillman for employing such imagination, however, it is hard to know for certain whether this is a bug or a feature.



Congratulations to Nicholas, Jacob and Ben

Nicholas Orndoff was accepted to the All Northwest Band and Jacob Shaffer was placed in the All State Orchestra. Congratulations on this recognition of your hard work! This past September, Ben Sahlin won the lead trumpet chair of the famous Roosevelt Jazz Band!

Last year Nicholas was placed in the All State Orchestra and Jacob into the All State Band, though I forgot to brag about them at that time.

Performance comparison: Winter

I was recently driving home, listening to the local classical station--yes, amazingly enough, Seattle still has classical music broadcast on the radio--when I was immediately taken by the music that was playing. The piece seemed familiar and yet I couldn't decide if it was from the Baroque era or if it was perhaps a modern, minimalist piece. Soon enough I realized that I was listening to one of the oldest of warhorses, "Winter" by Vivaldi. The musicians had so reinvented the work that it almost seemed like a new piece.

The performance linked below by Itzak Perlman, one of the greatest violinists of our time, is top drawer in every way. He sets a high bar for technical accomplishment and expressive performance:

Itzak Perlman performs "Winter" by Vivaldi

But it was Fabio Biondi, a violinist which whom I was entirely unfamiliar, that I found so startling during my commute. He has led his musicians to create a performance that is entirely alive and truly makes it seem that the music was written just recently.

Fabio Biondi performs "Winter" by Vivaldi.

Fabio Biondi and his ensemble Europa Galante are part of the early music movement, that is, playing music on the instruments or copies of the instruments, for which the composers wrote. I can't say that I truly believe this is the way that Vivladi heard these works and yet this reimagination is just what my modern ears need to hear these pieces for the gems that they are. This level of creativity is the challenge to every artist no matter their medium.

Greg Simon is off to Michigan

Puget Sound alum, Greg Simon, is off to the University of Michigan to pursue a doctorate in composition. Still an active jazz trumpeter, Greg is a great composer; check out his music: www.gregsimonmusic.com

Concert schedule - Fall 2014

September 28, 2:00: Jacobsen Recital Series performing the Concerto for Trumpet and Bassoon by Paul Hindemith.
October 10, 11, 12, 7:30, 7:30, 2:00:
Northwest Sinfonietta performing works by Vorisek, Dvorak, Bartok and Sarasate.
October 19, 2:30: Brass Band Northwest performs Heroes of England with music by Holst, Sparke, Vaughn-Williams and Vinter.
October 25, 7:30: Tacoma Symphony Orchestra performing with Evelyn Glennie including works by Respighi and Ravel.
October 26, 2:00: Jacobsen Recital Series performing the Concerto for Trumpet and Bassoon by Paul Hindemith.
November 2, 3:00: Lake Washington Symphony Orchestra, the Planets by Holst.
November 14, 15, 16, 7:30, 7:30, 2:00: Northwest Sinfonietta performing works by Gluck, Jones, Mozart and Youtz.
November 28, 29: Pacific Northwest Ballet, Nutcracker
Decemer 4: Edmonds Community College Choir, Rutter Gloria
December 7, 2:30: Tacoma Symphony performing Sounds of the Season.
December 9, 7:30: Brass Band Northwest performing All I Want for Christmas with guests PepperJill and Jack.
December 12, noon: Pacific Northwest Ballet, Nutcracker.
December 18, 19: Tacoma Symphony performs Messiah, Chapel Hill, Gig harbor then, St Chrels Borromeo
December 13, 14, 20, 21, 23, 3:00pm: Tacoma Symphony/Tacoma City Ballet, Nutcracker.
December 26: University Unitarian Messiah Sing-a-long

Philip Smith retires

philip smith 2
Philip Smith, principal trumpet of the New York Philharmonic, is retiring. He led that trumpet section for 36 years and produced a CD of excerpts that has become the de facto standard for orchestral trumpet playing. After the retirement of Bud Herseth, Phil Smith must be viewed as the leader of orchestral trumpet playing in America. He is notable enough that his departure was the subject of an article in The New Yorker:

Philip Smith, master trumpeter

The article and his comrades appropriately praise his career, but what I find telling is the one quote from Mr Smith, a master trumpeter who still, apparently, battles nerves:

A thirty-six-year career in the same orchestra means that expectations can remain high over a lifetime. “People keep showing up, and they want Mahler’s Fifth in 2013 to sound as good as it did in 1978,” he said. “And you’re going, ‘Shoot, man, I’m not sure if I can do that.’ So you have to watch the little voices and try to shove them out of the way. Try not to get focussed on mistakes. It’s like watching the Olympics—how many times you know these people are tops of their field, they get to the Olympics and the voices win. So it’s a constant battle to say, ‘Don’t let the voices win.’ Sing, sing, sing, sing, sing. When the voices start going, start singing.”