Several months ago, when Dr. Jonathan Gill contacted me about collaborating for the upcoming Big XII Trombone Conference at Texas Tech University, I jumped at the opportunity. Along with David Begnoche, trombone professor at TCU, we will be closing out the Faculty Showcase on Saturday afternoon at 5:00 PM with the Eight Miniatures by Frigyes Hidas. While this music is fun to play and listen to, but the real joy comes from playing with such great players.
Both Jon and Dave are thinking, feeling musicians who have strong opinions (in a good way) about how the music should sound. When the three of us come together to play, we try different things until a consensus is formed. The beautiful thing is that sometimes the consensus changes as we continue to work on phrases and refine our interpretation. I'm really proud of what we've been able to accomplish in a relatively short amount of time!
Regardless of the instrumentation, you will improve rapidly not only from performing music with others, but making decisions about phrasing, articulation, and dynamics will make you a thinking performer who considers everything on the page as well as the things that only come to life when the ink on the page is translated into sound.
If you're "stuck in a rut" and need a little motivation, grab some buddies and start playing together! I promise you'll love it. In fact, the more time you spend playing together, the better you will get. A great new book on practicing together is from my former chamber music coach and Rhythm & Brass trumpeter Wiff Rudd has tons of ideas on how to work together to improve. Check it out!
2014 is turning out to be a busy, busy year! The performance calendar begins with a solo engagement with the Symphonic Winds at SOSU in late January, followed by a lecture and performance at the Big 12 Trombone Conference, and a solo recital and masterclass at Ouachita Baptist University in February. With other recitals and masterclasses currently in planning stages, I am challenged to choose repertoire which will not only keep me engaged as a performer, but also repertoire which the audience will enjoy.
Shortly after accepting my teaching position at SOSU this summer, I saw a video of a trombone quartet written by Frank Gulino, a trombonist and composer based out of the Washington D.C. area. A friend request and several discussions later, we came to terms on a recital piece commission for trombone and piano. This vague idea materialized into Southeastern Rhapsody for Trombone and Piano, which will be published by Cimarron Music. I'm proud of this contribution to the repertoire, and look forward to performing it in the future.
One of the ways that working with Frank is so great is that while he deserves to be fairly compensated for his work, he is flexible, and compensation takes many forms. Without divulging details, it is just as important for Frank to know that his music is being played as it is to receive financial compensation. In essence, the more I program and perform Southeastern Rhapsody, he more affordable the commission becomes.
In my last year at Alabama, I approached Derek Holden, a composition student at UA, about writing a piece for unaccompanied trombone. Derek rolled up his sleeves, got to work, and cranked out three movements of music that took me out of my comfort zone in terms of technique and scope. The three Humid Aphorisms (Rain Slump, Cicada Kneel and Toward the Shoreline) were born after many hours of inspired, caffeine-fueled writing.
So, here it is. I feel like I'm 2 for 2 with commissions so far, and this excites me. I would like to propose a full-blown Trombone Commissioning Project. No cute or witty names...just straightforward, honest intentions. Here are the steps, the way I see them:
1. Call for Scores.
This is the easy part for me. Send me your music! If you have questions about ranges, technical limits, etc, email me at email@example.com.
2. Submission Review.
This is the hard part...studying and playing through the submitted music!
3. Discover avenues for performance.
The number of works submitted will determine if a recital of new music can be planned, or if particular submissions can be incorporated into a recital of more traditional repertoire. I can't guarantee a Carnegie Hall performance, but my performance opportunities will provide you with a chance to have your hard work showcased publicly.
I would love to hear from you! Drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org if you're interested.