Tuba-Euphonium workshop spotlights brass
January 27, 2012
Hear those melodious fat notes dangling in the air as you circumnavigate Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall? Yes? Well The U.S. Army Band's Tuba-Euphonium Workshop is in session again.
The annual gathering of professional musicians, international performers, educators and student musicians began Jan. 25 and continues through Jan. 28 at Brucker Hall, home of TUSAB. Euphonium player Sgt. Maj. Donald Palmire, the organizer and chairman of this year's workshop, said the 2012 program includes Hungarian composer and tuba player Roland Szentpali as one of several guest artists and puts a spotlight on military musicians from the other uniformed services, including TUSAB alumni who have gone on to teach the tuba and euphonium at the college level.
One of the events at this year's workshop that highlights the conference's educational role is a mock band audition on Saturday, Palmire said. A preliminary round that is closed to the public will first be held at JBM-HH's Town Hall, followed by a final round spectators can attend from 4:30-6:30 p.m. in Brucker's Minor Studio. Palmire said the mock audition would give up-and-coming musicians the opportunity to see what it takes to become a member of the Army Band.
The workshop kicked off Jan. 25 with a "Brass Ensemble Night" concert in the Loboda Studio that featured the Army Brass Quintet, the Army Brass Ensemble, the Marine Band Brass Quintet and the King's Brass in a program that included, among others, the music of Dimitri Shostakovich, Paul Dukas, Duke Ellington and George Frederick Handel. The King's Brass proved to be real crowd pleasers, entering the auditorium through the lobby and snaking down the aisles to the stage playing "Down by the Riverside" to a New Orleans second line beat.
Tuxedoed group members told jokes, kicked in a simulated chorus line, provided devotionals and indulged in some physical comedy, as when one overindulgent soloist received a shove from the boot of a fellow musician during the ensemble's "unofficial version" of "Stars and Stripes Forever." Symbiosisduo, comprised of Stacy Baker (tuba) and Gail Robertson (euphonium), took the stage of Loboda Jan. 26 with their own arrangements of the work of Jules Massenet, Gabriel Fauré and Giusseppe Verdi, not to mention a tribute to Johann Sebastian entitled "I Got Your Bach." "French Tuba Music From the Paris Conservatory," featuring tuba-euphonium player Christopher Vivio accompanied by pianist Caryl Conger, will take place in Brucker's Minor Studio at noon Friday, followed by a recital of the winners of the Leonard Falcone International Euphonium and Tuba Festival at 1:30 p.m. in the same studio. The Interservice Euphonium Choir will perform at 10 a.m. Jan. 28 in Loboda, followed by Szentpali in the same performance space at 2:30 p.m. with Conger accompanying.
The workshop concludes with a 7:30 p.m. "Grand Concert" by the Army Concert Band, featuring the soloists Staff Sgt. Dean Miller of TUSAB and Master Gunnery Sgt. Phil Franke of The U.S. Marine Band on euphonium and Szentpali and Craig Knox on tuba. As part of the concert, Miller will solo on a debut performance of the piece "The Guardian of the Flame," by composer Stephen Bulla. This is the 29th year of the workshop, which began when three members of The Army Band, "Pershings Own," wanted to develop a forum for aficionados of the instruments.
According to retired Sgt. Maj. Jack Tilbury, one of the founders, the timing of the workshop's formation was fortuitous. When the group brought the idea to TUSAB's commander, he had just received a request from higher up the chain of command to develop better forums for community outreach, Tilbury recalled. As a result, the initiative got strong support from the command and above. "It's great to see it continue," Tilbury said, saying he planned to attend this year. "I always enjoy the evening concerts. It's a great place to come and rub shoulders with other players. It's a chance for college kids to get to meet professional musicians. The tuba isn't like any other instrument," he said. "If you stretched it out it would be 18 feet long. It's a formidable instrument and can do just about anything."
Stephen Rudometkin, who lives in Oregon and has played with the 181st Army Band, the 104th Army Reserve Band and the Oregon National Guard Band, was in the audience at Wednesday night's concert. Starting on the clarinet in fifth grade, he switched to the tuba on a dare from his best friend in sixth grade and the challenge stuck. He said he came to the workshop because he enjoyed communing with other tuba players.
Norm Nelson, a regular at Army Band performances, both at Brucker and Kenmore Middle School in Arlington, brought a date to the Wednesday night concert. He said he was trying to introduce her to free concert venues in the Washington, D.C., area. "It's good music and a real bargain," he said.
Those unable to attend this year's workshop can listen to live audio and video feeds of the remaining concerts by connecting to the U.S. Army Band website at www.usarmyband.com.