Happy New Year! After my usual winter break from blogging I am glad to be back with you again and have a full slate of planned topics to cover here this spring. To begin, though, I’d like to share with you some of the major concerts and events in store for the coming weeks. As I sat down to write this evening I was thinking of this semester as being somewhat lighter in its obligations than the past two or three, but aside from the absence of any planned long-distance travel there is plenty going on with me and with the low brass studio at the University of Mississippi.
Thursday, January 25: UM Faculty Recital Series: “A Hindemith-ey Sort of Evening”
For some reason, I thought that planning a solo recital for the first week of classes would be a good idea, and that it would be fun to build that recital around the trombone and tuba sonatas by Paul Hindemith (1895-1963). It has been fun, but also a lot of work! I performed both of those sonatas at the National Association of College Wind and Percussion Instructors National Conference back in October, and for this program have added an additional work by Hindemith as well as works by his students Samuel Adler (b. 1928) and Bernhard Heiden (1910-2000). Joining me for this program will be pianist Stacy Rodgers and clarinetist Michael Rowlett, both UM faculty members. This program has me performing on alto, tenor, and bass trombones, euphonium, and tuba—I might just be crazy!
Tuesday, January 30, and Tuesday, February 13: National Anthem at Ole Miss Men’s Basketball Games
One easy and fun means of gaining publicity for low brass instruments generally and for our activities at Ole Miss specifically is to perform the National Anthem at sporting events and other public occasions. I’m happy that the trombone ensemble has been invited to perform at the UM vs. Auburn game on January 30, and the UM vs. Arkansas game on February 13. We have also performed at Ole Miss Baseball games in the past and hope to be invited to do so again.
Friday, February 2: Master Class with SPC David Jackson, US Army Materiel Command Band
I became acquainted with SPC Jackson at the American Trombone Workshop last spring, and quickly discovered that our approaches to a number of important aspects of low brass playing—particularly the importance of doubling on multiple instruments—were very similar. In addition to speaking on this and other subjects pertinent to brass playing, SPC Jackson will be talking to our students about military music careers and holding mock auditions for any interested students. Recent cuts to military music programs notwithstanding, service bands remain a viable career option for brass players, providing a stable income and benefits to musicians who perform important support and outreach functions for our Armed Services.
Monday, April 23: UM Faculty Recital Series: Mississippi Brass Quintet
The Faculty Recital Series for this year will conclude with a performance by the Mississippi Brass Quintet. Notable planned works include Three American Portraits by Bruce Broughton (b. 1945) and Shadowcatcher by Eric Ewazen (b. 1954). Our usual practice is to schedule outreach events to public schools in the region in the weeks leading up to the concert, and I hope this will be the case again.
Monday, April 30: UM Low Brass Ensembles
The first rehearsals with the UM Trombone Ensemble and UM Tuba-Euphonium Ensemble for the spring semester are less than two days away, and I am eager to begin working on this semester’s concert program as well as continuing group work on individual and ensemble playing fundamentals. While the programs will almost certainly “evolve” somewhat over the course of the semester, planned highlights include Brian Lynn’s transcription for trombone ensemble of Carnival of the Animals by Camille Saint-Saëns (1835-1921), Pinnacle for tuba-euphonium ensemble by Greg Danner (b. 1958), and a fun setting of Queen’s Another One Bites the Dust for tubas, euphoniums, and rhythm section.
TBA: Master Class with Euphoniumist Martin Cochran
We have not yet nailed down a date, but I am looking forward to having Adams Euphonium Artist Martin Cochran on campus to work with our students. A previous winner of both the Leonard Falcone International Euphonium Competition and the International Tuba-Euphonium Conference solo competition, Dr. Cochran has taught at Kennesaw State University, Columbus State University, the University of Alabama at Birmingham, the University of Montevallo, and the University of West Georgia.
Multiple Dates: Performances with North Mississippi Symphony Orchestra
I am now in my fifth season as principal trombonist with the North Mississippi Symphony Orchestra, a post which has found me at different times playing all of my instruments with the exception of the tuba. This spring’s engagements include classical concerts, educational programs through the Carnegie Foundation’s Link Up program (the best educational program for symphony orchestras I have ever seen!), and even ballet.
Add to all of this the usual smattering of performing at church services and the like, a whole lot of teaching, reprising my shared Sunday School class at Christ Presbyterian Church on the Letter to the Colossians, working with the Gideons, and trying to be a decent husband and father, and this “light” semester is suddenly filled with plenty of activity. Life as a music professor is not always perfect, but it is good, and I am thankful.