Thursday, January 27, 2011

A Quick Update and a video TREAT!

Hey everyone,

As the preparations for my week at the University of Tennessee intensify, I'm not taking too much time out to blog. It's only a week until I fly out! But here's a quick update on what I've been working on:

- I really want to memorize the two concertos I'm doing. I've been working pretty hard on that the past couple of days, but it's been more difficult than I expected. I've historically been pretty good at memorizing things, even intricate or complex things, which makes me wonder why it's not going faster. I guess it's the sheer amount of stuff I have going on besides the Gr√łndahl and the Ewazen that makes it all run together in my mind

- A big part of my practice routine is strengthening my chops so I can make it through full days of heavy playing, including rehearsal during the day and performances at night. I've been toying with the order of my recital repertoire to see what works the best. Right now it seems to be working well to open up with something moderately strenuous (Bozza
Ballade followed by Ropartz), then cool it a bit, then bring the level back up after intermission.

- I'm also excited about getting back into some jazz playing and some quartet playing. On Tuesday evening, the 8th, I'll be performing some quartet stuff with the Tennessee Trombone Project, who are great players (and all UT students & alumni) and also great guys! The TTP will also join me on my recital on the 11th.

- I'm scheduled to give 4 masterclasses/lectures, and I've been feverishly trying to organize my ideas for those. I've got a Word document on my USB drive that I carry around with me at all times, so when I think of another idea I can open it up and jot it down. I'm interested to see which ideas land and which ones bomb... but that's how you learn, right?

As a treat this week, I'll share with you all the following video which was shot from my new iPhone. It's a 'behind-the-scenes' view of the Richard Strauss
Wiener Philharmoniker Fanfare that we play every year to open the Wiener Philharmoniker Ball. You can read about my first experience at the ball here, and I'm sure Kristi will post about this year's experience soon over at The Vienna Wilsons.

Anyway, enjoy the video, and watch all the way through to see some photos! It was a great time, and I always get chill bumps when we play this thing:

PS: I'll be posting this and all subsequent videos on my new VIDEOS page. Check it out!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Back in VOL Country!

During our recent trip to the US, I took a day to travel back to my old 'college town'. Knoxville is just a couple hours from Warren County, so I drove up one morning late in December to do something I hadn't done in several years... play some PEP TUNES! That's right, I had the opportunity to join the UT Pride of Southland Alumni Band, which performs at many UT basketball games during the winter break.

The Alumni Band especially needed people to come for the Lady Vols game versus Rutgers because the 'regular' Pride of the Southland was in Nashville with the football team for the Music City Bowl.
Megan Christian leads the band in some pregame tunes
The opening tip-off
It was amazing how quickly my playing and musical mentality changed during the game. I hadn't played any of that stuff for years, but within 5 minutes of the first rendition of 'Rocky Top' I felt like a sophomore in college again, wailing and glissing my way through all the old favorites. It was really alot of fun, even if only for nostalgic reasons. The biggest challenge I faced was that I had forgotten almost all of the hand signals used to call up the various fight songs and cheers.

Megan shows us which tune is up next
Probably my favorite part was getting the chance to hang out and catch up with several college friends. Plus, it was fun to see the Lady Vols shellac Rutgers! I hadn't been to a UT sporting event in a really long time, so it was nice to be amongst so much orange again.
And we got to wear awesome pullovers!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

UT Trombone Symposium Schedule

After several requests for this info, I've decided to post it here. Below is a schedule of my upcoming events at the University of Tennessee. This whole thing (nicknamed UTTS) has been more than a year in planning, and it looks like it's going to be an absolute blast! I'm having so much fun preparing for the many different events that are happening. There's concerti, a solo recital, masterclasses, high school events, and even some quartet playing! Check this website for venue information and other assistance. Hope to see you there!!


Tuesday Feb. 8
12:40-1:55PM Session 1: Differences between American and European Orchestral Style (Lecture/Demonstration), Choir Room, Melrose D58

6:00-7:00PM Registration, Pre-Concert (TN Trombone Project), AMB 32

7:15-10:00PM Session 2: Life as a Philharmoniker (Lecture followed by Masterclass), AMB 32

Thursday February 10th
12:40-1:55PM Masterclass with UT Trombone Studio (all others welcome), location TBA

8:00PM Concert with UT Wind Ensemble (Eric Ewazen's Concerto for Trombone & Wind Band and Michael Daugherty's Rosa Parks Boulevard), AMB Cox Auditorium

Friday February 11th
8:00PM Solo Recital with Judith Bible, piano. AMB 32 (works TBA... it's a surprise!)

Saturday February 12th
10:15-12:30PM Session 3: My Story (Lecture followed by Masterclass), AMB 32

8:00PM Concert with UT Symphony Orchestra (Launy Gr√łndahl's Concerto for Trombone), AMB Cox Auditorium

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

And.. we're back!

Today I'm in Hamburg on a short little Philharmonic tour, and it's the first time I've had in weeks to actually sit down and blog. When I started the blog, I was afraid that there would be times where I would get ultra-busy and go a couple weeks without blogging, but I never imagined more than a month! But lo and behold, my last post was on December 15th. But... I've dealt with my blogger guilt, and I guess blog goes on, as they say.

The main reason for my dry spell was the three wonderful weeks we spent in America during Christmas and New Year's. I must admit the last thing on my mind during all that fun, food, and fellowship was blogging. We had a truly memorable trip, which Kristi has done a great job of chronicling over at The Vienna Wilsons. There were a couple fun music-related things that happened during our visit, which I'll share in later posts. But I will note that I was very proud of myself for one very important reason: this was the first extended trip home since we've been in Vienna where I regularly practiced my trombone!

Normally my practice time just goes by the wayside, which ends up putting me in survival mode when we get back to Austria and I have to start being a professional again. Naturally, I don't like doing it that way, so I was determined to keep some sort of practice regimen going. I didn't get the amount of time each day I normally get, and I didn't play absolutely every day, but I nevertheless kept my chops in working order, and didn't have a ton of catching up to do when we returned. It feels nice, both literally and figuratively, to have accomplished that feat, especially given the limited amount of time we always have with our family and friends (and favorite foods).

Now we've been back in Austria for almost two weeks, and it's been quite busy at work. My colleague Mark played all during December and into January while I was away, so he now gets some much-deserved free time while I play every night in the opera. I've also been playing a Philharmonic block with Mariss Jansons (chief conductor of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra) since last week. We're performing Mahler's Songs of a Wayfarer, Shostakovich's Symphony No. 6, and Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique.

It's been a great experience, especially getting to know such a landmark work as the Berlioz. I've had some quite surreal moments when I remember studying the piece in my music history classes just a few years ago. It really is a 'fantastic' work, even though it's another of those pieces where the trombones sit with nothing to play for the majority of the work. I prefer to think Berlioz was reserving the trombones for just the right moment, which happens to be the "March to the Scaffold". My only reservation about the piece is the third movement, which depicts a "Scene in the Country". It's very slow, very long, and very pretty. Let me introduce you to a tried and true orchestral equation, where A = (slow, long, and pretty), B = (haven't played any notes since the intermission), and C= (warm concert hall).
A + B + C = Z³

Yes, I had trouble staying awake, even at 4 o'clock in the afternoon. It's the equation... there's no helping it!

Jansons puzzles me. He's one of the most famous and in-demand conductors in the world, and yet I can't put my finger on exactly what sets him apart from the rest. He has impeccable conducting technique, but so do several others. Musically, he has (in my opinion) some great ideas and some not so great ideas, but that's every conductor. And yet, he received an ovation this past weekend from our subscription audience the likes of which I've never seen (this was echoed by Ian, who has been a principal trombonist for 25 years).

I think it has to do with his understanding of the music and understanding how an audience hears the music. Or maybe it's more correct to say he understands how an audience ought to hear the music. I watched him closely over the weekend (I had lots of rests, remember) and I noticed that he may be the best I've ever seen at showing an audience what to listen to. With his gestures he shows the listener not only what to hear, but HOW to hear it. It's astonishing to watch! To see what I'm talking about, you almost just have to look for a video of him somewhere. If you do, see if you agree with me that he shows you with his body how you should interpret the music he's conducting.

In short, he is a great salesman! Someone in the orchestra commented that the Shostakovich 6th Symphony has all but been banned in most major orchestras because it's perceived as unbelievably miserable and boring. Yet Jansons made it a great success, both for the orchestra members and the public. I think it's because you just have to watch him conduct, and you immediately begin to understand the complicated turmoil of Shostakovich.

Well, that's enough for today. We've got one final Mahler/Berlioz concert tonight in Hamburg (which is a BEAUTIFUL city, by the way) and we head back to Vienna in the morning. Since this is my first post of 2011, hope you all have a wonderful year. Prosit Neujahr!! It's good to be back on BRP!