The International Trombone Festival is one of the premiere yearly events for trombone performers, teachers, and enthusiasts throughout the world. This four-day event features performances, lectures, master classes, competitions, and exhibits, and its presenters are among the world’s most accomplished practitioners of our craft. While the ITF is sometimes held overseas or in distant locations in the US, this year’s event will be held at Columbus State University in Columbus, Georgia, a relatively short drive for me. If you are a trombonist and live within driving distance, it isn’t too late for you to plan to attend!
Commenting here on every scheduled event is neither necessary nor prudent, though I would like to make note of events and opportunities to which I am particularly looking forward. First of all, the competitions, student trombone choir performances, and warm-up sessions are of great interest to me. Why? Because this is where I discover new repertoire to use with my students, as well as exercises to “tweak” my daily routines. While many of the exercises in my warm-up routines were used by my teachers, I learned a sizeable number of them in group warm-up sessions at conferences. This year I will also be presenting one of the group warm-up sessions, on the third morning of the event, in addition to conducting one of the trombone choirs open to all ITF participants.
Secondly, the exhibits. The ITF features the best and newest instruments, sheet music, recordings, and accessories for trombonists. Not only is it fun to observe and try new “stuff,” but the opportunity to do so without having to go through the hassle of cross-country (or even international) orders and possibly returns is invaluable. Speaking with the manufacturers, inventors, composers, and others present also provides useful insights.
Third, the concerts. Because I will once again be writing the “ITF Recap” article for the International Trombone Association Journal (as I did in 2010 and 2011), I will try to attend an inordinately large number of concerts compared to most ITF attendees, including “bits and pieces” of simultaneously-occurring programs. Some concerts and presentations that I’m particularly looking forward to include:
- Megumi Kanda (recital and lecture)
- Minor 4th Trombone Quartet
- Alex Iles
- James Markey, Charlie Vernon, and Paul Pollard
- Washington Trombone Ensemble
- Georgia Brass Band with soloists Charlie Vernon, Megumi Kanda, Colin Williams, and Michael Massong
- Atlanta Symphony Low Brass Section
This is just a “small slice” of what will be going on at the ITF, and if prior experience is any indication, I will find myself amazed by some performances and presentations by “unknown” individuals, as well as the “known quantities.”
Finally, “connections and camaraderie.” Conferences like this are great opportunities to make and renew friendships and relationships with colleagues, former teachers, and prospective students. Low brass players are a particularly friendly and jovial bunch, and fairly low on ego as musicians go. Being among trombonists for four days will make for a good time. If you’re a trombonist (or otherwise interested in going), make plans to attend if you can!