Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Tuba-Euphonium Chorale Book

Before I begin, this is NOT a shameless plug-in for my own work! I recently completed a collection of fifteen chorales for tuba-euphonium ensemble. The chorales come from a Lutheran hymnal and Bach chorales. My goal was to create a book of four-part chorales that would help a tuba-euphonium ensemble with intonation, balance, and blend, to name a few. The melody is usually in the first euphonium part, just as most chorale melodies are in the soprano voice, but then the roles of the remaining three parts change. I revoiced chords and cadences to place the third of major and minor chords in different parts to ensure that each player got the chance to adjust intonation of those important chord members. At the time I began this project, I was unaware of any such book. If there are some out there, then this is just another contribution. Without studying ensemble blend and intonation, tuba-euphonium quartets and ensembles frequently begin rehearsals by tuning and then jumping into the literature. Spending a few minutes in each rehearsal on these chorales could really benefit the group's sound. The rich, sonorous timbre of the tuba-euphonium ensemble can really be explored through the careful attention to intonation, balance, and blend that the study of chorales so often gives to groups like wind bands and brass choirs. I think my collection will be available within the next few weeks from Brassworks4.

The University of Kentucky

The University of Kentucky tuba-euphonium studio is led by Dr. Skip Grey. They have a strong tuba-euphonium ensemble tradition at their school. Within the large ensemble, a group of eight students breaks away and forms the Conner Tuba-Euphonium Ensemble. This group performed at the United States Army Band Tuba-Euphonium Conference in Washington, DC. The live performed was recorded and is available on CD!

I really like Dr. Grey's information about the tuba-euphonium ensemble. It's very true! He says that many people think of a massive group of pachyderms. He aims to have new works written for tuba-euphonium ensemble as well as artistic transcriptions. Kudos to Kentucky!


The University of Northern Iowa tuba-euphonium studio is under the direction of Dr. Jeff Funderburk, affectionately called "Dr. Fun" by his students. At UNI, the studio regularly performs tuba-euphonium ensemble music in what they call UNITUBA. UNITUBA is among the oldest tuba and euphonium ensembles in the world. Comprised entirely of tuba and euphonium students at the University of Northern Iowa, the ensemble rehearses weekly and is a credit ensemble in the school of music. UNITUBA was formed in 1974 by former UNI faculty member Donald Little and is currently under the direction of Dr. Jeffrey Funderburk. Previous directors have included Fritz Kaenzig and Brian Book. UNITUBA performs regularly on campus at UNI as well as around the state. The ensemble has been featured in performances at the International Tuba and Euphonium Conference in Lexington, Kentucky, ITEC Regional Conferences at Illinois State University and Gustavus Adolfus College as well as on tour with the UNI Wind Symphony in Hungary and Italy. With a repertoire ranging from transcribed works of the Baroque and Classical era to original compositions, performances are an eclectic mix of musical styles.

Check it out!

Alabama Tuba-Euphonium Quartet Part 2

I warned that I would be coming back to the Alabama quartet. Let me begin by saying all the players in that group were FANTASTIC and their playing was very inspiring! The competition guidelines for the final round said something like the following: choose your own literature, totaling about fifteen minutes, and be entertaining. Quartets were encouraged to memorize music, perform skits, and even add choreography. My quartet chose a traditional program of standard transcriptions and original compositions for tuba-euphonium quartet. The Alabama Quartet did the Forbes Consequences, the theme from The Green Hornet, and a skit they called "It's a Small World." The members were of different ethnic backgrounds, labeled Mexican, Asian, German, and just American.

The Mexican aspect of their skit involved the use of sombreros and playing the Mexican Hat Dance. The Asian music involved a charming rendition of John Barnes Chance's Variations on a Korean Folk Song and "Kung Fu Fighting." They were headbands with red dots in the middle and performed karate chops. The German music required the first tuba to wear a blond wig with pig tails and a beer stein. I believe they played a polka. Finally, the American music was Michael Jackson's "Billy Jean," including a sequined glove and a wig.

While the group played extremely well, the whole idea of being cutesy was a little unsettling for some. It seemed to make tuba-euphonium quartet a lighthearted, background music type of genre. After all the leaps and bounds the tuba-euphonium ensemble has made since its inception, I can understand the concern. Just observations, people!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Alabama Tuba-Euphonium Quartet

It's now time to listen to a tuba-euphonium quartet! This YouTube video shows the 2008 ITEC Tuba-Euphonium Quartet Competition winners from the University of Alabama. It is their final round performance of the Forbes Consequences. I will discuss the other part of their final round performance in another blog. I have much to say. These people are great players!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Patrick Shulz Quartets

I wanted to take this opportunity to talk about a significant composer of tuba-euphonium quartet literature. I had the pleasure of playing Patrick Schulz's Tuba Quartet No. 1 as part of the semi-final competition literature for the 2008 ITEC. He has a real gift for composition, especially for tubas and euphoniums. As a euphonium player, Schulz knows the boundaries to explore and the true artistic capabilities of the instruments. I would encourage every serious quartet to consider buying it. Go to the Sotto Voce page to purchase some of his sheet music. In addition to this quartet, his piece called Refractions is also very good. My quartet worked on it for a while, but ultimately decided on other pieces for the competiton. I want to perform it some day, but the score and parts were lost in the flood of 2008!!!

Barbara York

I recently attended the 2009 Great Plains Regional Tuba-Euphonium Conference in Manhattan, Kansas at Kansas State University. I had the pleasure of meeting pianist and composer named Barbara York. Some of you may already know her, but let me take this chance to elaborate!

Barbara is a self-proclaimed "hip, old lady who likes to use colorful words." Her approach to composition is from the heart. Her music has a real sense of melody, emotion, and direction. In any setting, either solo, chamber, full band, or orchestra, Barbara pays close attention to melody and how it interacts with other voices. She told me her first works were not well received because it was during a time of crisis in composition. You must remember figures like Boulez, Stockhausen, Nono, to name a few, who were iconic composers from the mid-twentieth century. They were steeped in the idea of serial composition, a process in which dynamics, pitch, articulation, and rhythm were all predetermined by some master plan. Music from Barbara York did not fit into this academic vein and was therefore cast aside for a long time. Thankfully, her works for wind instruments have garnered her the recognition and respect she deserves. GO BUY HER MUSIC! She's written so much for tuba, euphonium, quartet, and other types of mixed ensembles. Barbara's music is published through Cimarron Press.

Brassworks4 Publishing

One of my trombone friends suggested I look at Brassworks4 for brass sheet music. They have SO much to offer! When you go to their website, you will see music for all brass instruments, chamber ensembles, as well as pieces from other publishers like Euphonium.com, Cimarron Press, and BVD Press. The catalog includes works for tuba-euphonium duets, trios, quartets, and then some!

Brassworks4 is led by Connie Schulz. She is quick to respond to emails and phone calls. Her goal for the company is to create new and exciting works for brass players of all ages. The literature is available to middle school, high school, and college players. The other nice thing Connie does is she sends some of her pieces for peer review through the ITEA Journal. I have published with her and I highly recommend contacting Connie if you have any questions!

Tuba-Euphonium Press

This blog post is about sources for tuba-euphonium ensemble literature. Who am I kidding? I'm about to go off on a tangent about Tuba-Euphonium Press. I really do appreciate the fact that the International Tuba-Euphonium Association has its own publishing division, but my previous experiences have been slightly negative. First of all, some of the prices are too high. I can go to a place like Hickey's and find the same item for equal or lesser cost! Second, the former director of TE Press NEVER responded to my emails! I had some arrangements I wanted to have considered for publication, not to mention a large band arrangement I had completed as part of my senior honors thesis as an undergraduate student. Oy...

At the 2008 ITEC, it was announced that TE Press would be moving to Baltimore, Maryland and would be going through a change in leadership. This was fine and some minor glitches were to be expected with such a shift. Well, the major problem I had was that the automatic shipping cost was $10. I tried to purchase the Forbes arrangement of Achieved is the Glorious Work, priced at $8, and would have spent more in SHIPPING. This struck me as odd.

In spite of these rantings, there is something good that has come from the change in leadership with TE Press. They have created a grading system that grades each piece they publish based on range, technical difficulties, endurance, rhythmic complexity, etc. This is a great idea! Kudos.

Cimarron Press

Tuba-euphonium ensembles often face the dilemma of having to pick literature for recitals. What piece should we play? How many? Arrangements? Transcriptions? Original compositions? These questions often plague groups in the early stages of music selection. Fear not, tuba-euphonium ensembles! Go to Cimarron Press for your sheet music needs! The company is operated by Brian Doughty. This man is always prompt with emails and phone calls. He takes the time to make sure your needs are met and really provides quality literature for instruments of all kinds, not just tubas and euphoniums.

There are two really great things about the site. The first is that you can get PDF samples of the music before you decide to buy it! That is such a great idea! The other great thing is that Cimarron takes part in commissioning projects of various types, the most recent and notable one being the 2008 ITEC Tuba Quartet commission. It would behoove any college ensemble to peruse their website. There is a ton of good stuff out there!

Gail Robertson

Gail Robertson is a key figure in the tuba-euphonium community. Her efforts have expanded the repertoire for the tuba-euphonium ensemble and other low brass ensembles. Below is a brief biography:

Originally from Pompano Beach, Florida, Gail Robertson began her music studies at the University of Central Florida. After graduating, she was awarded a full-scholarship as graduate assistant to Harvey G. Phillips at Indiana University and received her Master's Degree in Euphonium and a Performer's Certificate in 1989. Ms. Robertson then began her Doctoral studies at the University of Maryland and studied with Dr. Brian L. Bowman. Two months later, she was relocated back to Orlando to become one of the founding members of Walt Disney World's "Tubafours." She later became the leader and chief arranger of the group and produced a CD called "Tubas Under the Boardwalk."

Robertson is currently the Professor of Low Brass at Bethune-Cookman College, Adjunct Instructor of Euphonium and Tuba at the University of Florida, and the University of Central Florida. Additionally, Gail is a judge for the Leonard Falcone Tuba and Euphonium Competition, the I.T.E.C. Euphonium Competition, and the Florida Bandmasters Association. She also tours the U.S. and Japan with Keith Brion's "New Sousa Band," is euphoniumist in the Orlando Brass Ensemble, the Central Florida Brass Band, and has toured with the Battle Creek Brass Band. She has been a soloist and clinician at the U.S. Army Band Tuba and Euphonium Conferences, several past I.T.E.C.'s and I.W.B.C's. She is also a member of "Symphonia" and will be a part of the summer workshop held at Interlochen this summer. Gail was most recently invited to serve on the judges committee for I.W.B.C., voted to be the "Euphonium Coordinator" of I.T.E.A., and was soloist with the Buchholz High School Band at the Atlanta C.B.D.N.A. Conference this past February.

Several of Gail's arrangements are published by the Tuba-Euphonium Press. The University of Florida Gator Band performed an entire "Rock and Roll" half-time show arranged by Gail this past season. She is also the founder and coordinator of the Orlando TUBAMANIA, the co-coordinator of the Orlando TUBACHRISTMAS, the University of Florida TUBAFEST, and is a York performing artist.

I had the chance to work with her at the 2008 International Euphonium Institute. She was a blast! Gail is very knowledgeable of the repertoire, the arranging/transcription process, and publishing. She is in demand as a teacher and clinician, and after having one lesson with her, it's not very hard to see why. If tuba-euphonium ensembles need ideas for literature, there is a whole Gail Robertson section on the Tuba-Euphonium Press website. Check it out! Her publications vary from arrangements, transcriptions, and original compositions.


The University of Iowa Tuba-Euphonium Studio recently attended the Great Plains Regional Tuba-Euphonium Conference, affectionately called GrapeTec or GeeperTec. The conference was filled with recitals of various tuba/euphonium artists and university tuba-euphonium ensembles. Attending these marathon concerts was a bit taxing for my attention span, but I managed to take notes on several pieces I heard. Here are some of my thoughts:

1) Check out the piece Carrickfergus! You won't be disappointed.
2) Try adding percussion or some other kind of instrument to the tuba-euphonium ensemble. The difference is really refreshing for both the performers and the audience.
3) Do not play an arrangement of Holst's Second Suite in F. Trust me, just don't do it!
4) I really liked the idea of switching parts and rotating players. Some ensembles did not have all studio members playing every piece. It was a chop break and it gave the director a chance to give verbal program notes. Also, the rotation gets more people playing a variety of parts.

I noticed that many of the university ensembles had about 12-16 players. Some of the pieces performed may have had more than four parts. I think anything beyond four or five can get really muddy. The way to avoid the mud factor is to have the separate voices doing "their own thing," employing contrapuntal devices and making each voice unique. If you don't do this, the result is just a cacophony of sound!

Transcription vs. Arrangement?

There is a distinction between transcriptions and arrangements. Why is this important to know? Many of the pieces performed by tuba-euphonium ensembles are called arrangements, but upon closer inspection, one might label some of them transcriptions. In my opinion, the two are different and are summarized below!


These are new configurations of a pre-existing work. It is placed in the context of a new ensemble setting (i. e. from choir to wind ensemble). There is usually something unique about the arrangement. The arranger can make his or her own introduction, transition materials, or a new ending. Also, the pre-existing work can be worked into a new context. For example, one of my final projects in my undergraduate band arranging course was to arrange a Christmas tune for full band. I arranged In dolce jubilo. The arrangement began with a full band, chorale-style rendition of the tune. I then inserted my own modulation to get from the home key of B-flat major to E-flat major. After this modulation, I reworked the tune into a bright, lively march! Yes, complete with oom-pa accompaniment. Within the march, I added a modulation to A-flat major and wrote a colorful woodwind line above the brass section. The closing section was an augmentation of the march melody, closely resembling the opening of the piece, and closed with a stinger. My undergraduate professor said that arrangments have to bear the mark of the arranger. The person makes it his or her own by making the piece different. What that difference is varies from piece to piece.


These works also stem from pre-existing materials. This happens a lot in band literature. Many pieces are from the orchestral repertoire. In the case of a tuba-euphonium ensemble, many four-part choir works transcribe well for the tubas and euphoniums. The soprano, alto, tenor, and bass parts translate to euphonium 1, euphonium 2, tuba 1, and tuba 2 very well. There are few, if any, changes in structure to the original work. Transcriptions are essentially the previous work in the guise of another ensemble. Take the Forbes version of Achieved is the Glorious Work. This piece is a chorus from Handel's The Creation. There is a four-part trombone version of this piece, which Forbes then reworked for tubas and euphoniums. This reworking likely deserves the term transcription and not arrangement.

I know it may seem like we're losing words and getting hung up on little differences, but the fact remains that we have these two different terms with two different meanings. The transcription police will not be called if you call it an arrangement! Many publishers market items as arrangements, so bless it be and call it a day!

Monday, March 9, 2009


David Greenhoe, the trumpet professor at The University of Iowa, will be retiring at the end of this semester. The School of Music has recently conducted a national search for someone to take his place. When I was an undergraduate student at Eastern Illinois University, I never got the chance to witness an applied faculty audition because all the events happened during ensemble rehearsals or my non-music classes, classes for which most of the teachers would not excuse an absence to attend the auditions. I took the chance to see the four finalists for the trumpet job and I have since made some observations!

When it comes to the recital part of a job audition, it's implied that you're a good player. You wouldn't have a DMA and be crappy. I think it is wise to pick music that you enjoy playing as well as music that is very standard for the instrument. In fact, I think there's nothing wrong with doing a piece on a recital simply because it's one of your favorites. The people attending the recital are simply getting an understanding of your tonal concept and your overall playing style, not trying to see if you can play an hour recital of nothing but grade 6+ literature.

In terms of interaction, I really liked it when people gave brief verbal program notes about the pieces they were playing. I am familiar with some of the standard trumpet works because of my trumpet pedagogy and literature class, but it was nice to encounter some new pieces, too. This interaction with the audience makes the player seem more human and not like a trumpet robot.

My major professor asked me what was the one thing I took away from seeing all these auditions. I thought about it for a long time and it boiled down to one idea: do people like you? Like I said before, at this point you are likely a great player and can teach the instrument, but do people WANT to be around you? Does the music faculty want to work with you? Above all else, do the students in your potential studio want to work with you? If the answer is no to these questions, then perhaps you're not the best fit for the job. I'm wondering if that is a gross generalization to make, but it was just an impression I got. As I get closer to the job audition process myself, I'm sure new ideas will present themselves.

I know this post was not tuba-euphonium ensemble related, but it was related to class discussions and I could not resist talking about it.

Morehead State University Tuba-Euphonium Studio

The Morehead State University Tuba-Euphonium Studio is under the direction of Dr. Stacy Baker. I had the privilege of working with Dr. Baker at the 2008 International Euphonium Institute where she was a guest artist and clinician. We chatted several times during the week and I was able to get some information about her studio.

Morehead State is in a small community in Kentucky. Dr. Baker said that the music and public communities knew tuba and euphonium was present at the school, but she decided to take it one step further. Before her arrival, the tuba-euphonium ensemble had performed one concert per semester. Now the group is performing two or three times per semester and at various locations. She said, "Yes, we're everywhere. Morehead can't get enough tuba and euphonium!" The group plays on recitals at the university, on student degree recitals, as well as public outreach functions like Octubafest. It is clear that Dr. Baker's studio is hard at work. I heard them perform this past summer at the 2008 International Tuba-Euphonium Conference in Cincinnati, Ohio. They were terrific. Their program included original works for tuba-euphonium ensemble, unique instrument combinations (the ensemble with guitar, percussion, timpani, etc.), as well as some student compositions and arrangements. Kudos to Dr. Baker and the Morehead State University Tuba-Euphonium Ensemble!

Giovanni Gabrieli

One of the assignments for my brass literature class was to write a paper on some historical aspect of brass ensembles. I had always heard the name Gabrieli, but at this point in my career, I figured I should know more! With that, I became a gumshoe and befriended the Rita Benton Music Library. Below are excerpts from my paper that show my findings! Enjoy.

The original focal point of the Venetian instrumental ensembles had always been brass instruments. This is true because Venice had relied on the use of herald trumpets and trombones for ceremonies and festivals. Local governments frequently employed brass musicians in groups called piffari. These piffari bands consisted of trumpets, trombones, cornettos, shawms, bagpipes, recorders, drums, viols, and perhaps some flutes. This abundance of brass musicians allowed Gabrieli to easily incorporate them into his new compositions for St. Mark’s. Brass instruments could increase the sound of vocal music when performed in the basilica, but the brasses also had another realistic application. Intonation improved when singers were paired with an instrument. The singers could retain their tonal center and the brasses could help with balance in a cappella works.

Gabrieli composed a large-scale work called Sacrae Symphoniae, a piece he likely would have called a sonata. The sonata at that time was a piece of music written for instruments. The collection contains sixteen pieces, including canzonas, another popular and common instrumental genre. It is in this composition that the Venetian school showcased its style of writing known as the cori spezzati, literally “split choirs.” Another term for this is polychoral. These canzonas are the first to include dynamic markings. For example, one choir is indicated at a piano while the opposing choir is marked mezzo forte.

Gabrieli mastered the timbres and blends possible with the dynamic contrasts brass instruments could achieve. Given that the brass choirs were split, he accounted for the distance between the groups, the time it would take for the sound to travel in the room, and of course, the overall effect of which brasses should be at which dynamic. Gabrieli’s canzonas also demonstrate his skills with counterpoint. Music with complex counterpoint with brass instruments, some similar in range and timbre, could disturb the clarity of the lines. In St. Mark’s, Gabrieli utilized the whole ensemble but interspersed complex counterpoint with long, florid lines supported by longer tones in the other voices.

In 1608, music critic Thomas Coryat described a performance of Venetian style music in his publication Crudities. Coryat states:

Sometimes there sung sixteene or twenty men together, having their master or moderator to keepe them in order; and when they sung, the instrumental musicitans played also. Sometimes sixteene played together on their instruments, ten Sagbuts, foure Cornets; sometimes two, a Cornet and a treble viol. Of those treble viols I heard several there, whereof each was so good, especially one that I observed above the rest, that I never heard the like before. Those that played upon the treble viols, sung and played together, and sometimes two singular fellows played together upon Theorboes, to which they sung also, who yielded admirable sweet musicke, but so still they could scarce be heard but by those that were never near them…At every time that every several musicke played, the Organs, wherof there are seven faire paire in that room, standing all in a row together, played with them…

Gabrieli’s efforts and those of his Venetian colleagues left a lasting mark on the development of brass literature. The concept of split choirs has become widely accepted as an effective compositional tool, including pieces all the way into the twenty-first century. Pieces like Resphigi’s La Pina di Roma or Ticheli’s American Elegy, though written long after Gabrieli, reflect back on what the Venetian school accomplished. Brass ensembles are indebted to these early composers for the fact that the many capabilities of brass instruments were exploited and used effectively. No longer were brasses just for ceremonies and festivals. Due in part to Gabrieli, the brass ensemble is on a more equal footing with other instrumental families.


Tubalate is a professional tuba-euphonium quartet based out of England. Their efforts in low brass chamber music have taken them to places like Russia, the United States, Latvia, and many other locales. The group was awarded the prestigious Professional Performance Diploma from the Royal Northern College of Music. Since then, these guys have been constantly pushing the envelope in developing repertoire.

Tubalate encourage educational projects, working in collaboration with organisations such as The Society for the Promotion of New Music (SPNM). The quartet also offers a range of educational concerts and workshops. They have given masterclasses at major music conservatoires including the Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM), Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts (LIPA), the Welsh College of Music and Drama and the St. Petersburg (Russia), and Riga (Latvia) Conservatoires.

Tubalate has completed four recording projects: Light Metal, Episodes, Move, and a CD of contemporary works called Earth and Moon. They are also affiliated with Besson.

Though this group is not a college group, I thought it was important to show trends in tuba-euphonium quartet in a country other than the United States and to demonstrate yet another group's commitment to advancing tuba-euphonium literature. Check out the following list of pieces that Tubalate has either commissioned or written:

After the Long Trick Hywel Davies
Ale and Arty Colin Bayliss
Almost a Fugue Georg Pelecis
Basics, The Roy Newsome
Blue the Blue Hour Michael Spakowski
Cheap Labour Peter Reynolds
Chorus of Inner Voices (2), A Paul Mitchell-Davidson
Conversation with a room Owen Bourne
Dancing Music Michael Spakowski
Earth & Moon Hugh Collins-Rice
Efflorescent Torstein Aagard-Nilsen
Episodes John Reeman
Et Tu Bop Geoff Keating
Exit Pursued by a Bear Paul Mitchell-Davidson
Fellscape Stuart Scott
Gowbarrow Gavotte Andrew Seivewright
Hamish Geoff Keating
Heights of Halifax, The Ian McQueen
I Saw a Snake Frederick Naftel
Invocation Alan Langford
Jubilate for Tubalat¨¦ Roy Newsome
La Valse David Solomons
Le'Go John Reeman
Loch Ness (A lonely Vigil) Philip Henderson
Lyke Wake Dirge, The Colin Bayliss
Male Voice for Brass Raymond Parfrey
March - FROT Simon Kerwin
March of the Hare Peter Crump
Means of Production Roddy Skeaping
Memory Trace Peter McGarr
Move Matt Davidson
Octave Variations David Stoll
Pascal's Victim Frederick Naftel
Pastorale and Ostinato Julian Dale
Pieces of Eight David Solomons
Prayer before the Close of Day David Solomons
Quartet Michael Regan
Rest and Recreation Howard Skempton
Shall We Dance? Geoff Keating
String of Tones, A Anthony Roper
Sweet Sorrow Geoff Keating
Tants David Solomons
Tears Donald Bousted
There Be Giants Ian McQueen
Three Piece Suite Timothy Moore
Tributes to Tunesmiths Raymond Parfrey
Tubafication Paul Mitchell-Davidson
Tubafusion Derek Wood
Tubalat¨¦ Tanze Judith Bailey
U Phone Ye Mum Kristofer Wahlander
Uraborus Paul Newland
Variations on a Yiddish Folksong Michael Spakowski
Visages Guto Puw

The Sotto Voce T uba Quartet

The Sotto Voce Tuba-Euphonium Quartet is the premiere tuba-euphonium quartet of its kind. The original group formed at the University of Wisconsin-Madison under the guidance of John Stevens. The quartet performs at conferences, festivals, and master classes throughout the country. They are dedicated to performing quality literature consisting of arrangements, transcriptions, and original compositions for tuba-euphonium quartet.

Members are Demondrae Thurmon, Mark Carlson, Nat McIntosh, and Michael Forbes. Each member brings something unique to the quartet. Their engaging personalities and outstanding musicianship combine to create a professional product. The group is endorsed by the Miraphone corporation. Both Demondrae and Mark perform on the Miraphone 5050T, the instrument Demondrae helped create with the Miraphone company. It is also the instrument I personally play on, and let me say, it's BEAUTIFUL!

Sotto Voce has three CDs available under the Summit Records label: Consquences, Refractions, and Viva Voce: The Quartets of John Stevens. I highly recommend this group to anyone interested in low brass chamber music. They are a testament to what tubas and euphoniums can do! Go listen...NOW.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

University of Wisconsin-Madision Tuba-Euphonium Ensemble

This entry is a shout-out to my colleague, Blaine Cunningham. He completed a master's degree in tuba performance at UW-Madison and is now a DMA student with me at The University of Iowa. So, on to the ensemble, shall we?

The University of Wisconsin-Madison Tuba-Euphonium Ensemble
is a top notch group. Their conductor, Professor John Stevens, is a critically acclaimed teacher, performer, and composer. The ensemble is in constant demand for performances at conferences and other music festivals. Stevens has written several original compositions for tuba-euphonium ensemble, including Power and Viva Voce! to name a few. The tuba-euphonium quartet Sotto Voce was formed from members of Stevens's ensemble. Since that group was created, many of Stevens's compositions have been written for them. All of his quartets are on a Sotto Voco recording, too. The Wisconsin-Madison studio has also taken part in recording projects, incorporating some of Stevens's compositions and many other works for tuba-euphonium ensemble.

It is very comforting knowing that someone in the tuba-euphonium community is actively creating new, quality literature for the ensemble. Often times works for tuba-euphonium ensemble don't quite reach the sophistication and caliber of works from other genres, but John Stevens has made steps in the right direction for sure!

UMKC Tuba-Euphonium Ensemble

The UMKC Tuba-Euphonium Ensemble is conducted by Professor Thomas Stein. They usually have sixteen players of undergraduate and graduate students. The group has performed at prestigious events like the 2006 U.S. Army Band Tuba-Euphonium Conference in Washington, D.C. and the 2003, 2005, and 2007 Great Plains Regional Tuba-Euphonium Conference.

In addition to the large ensemble, the studio splits into several quartets. These quartets perform on campus throughout the semester and some even compete. I competed against two of their quartets at the 2008 International Tuba-Euphonium Conference in Cincinnati, Ohio this past June. Tuba-euphonium pedagogy is alive and well at this school!

Below is a list of repertoire that this ensemble has done. Note that they consistently do a balance of transcriptions, arrangements, and original compositions for tuba-euphonium ensemble.

Recent repertoire list for the UMKC Tuba and Euphonium Ensemble:

Anderson, L./Parish, M. Sleigh Ride. arr. Peter Rauch
Barber, Samuel. Adagio from String Quartet No. 1. arr. by Thomas Stein
Berlioz, Hector. Hungarian March. arr. by David Werden
Bruckner, A. Locus Iste. arr. D. Sabourin
Bulla, Stephan, Celectial Suite
Cheetham, J. Consortium for Euphoniums and Tubas
Corwell, Neal. The Furies.
Dempsey, Ray. Now Hear This !
Williams, C & Williams, S. Royal Garden Blues.arr. by Mike Forbes
Forbes, Mike (arranger). Just a closer Walk with Thee.
Forte, Aldo. Seguidillas.
George, Thom Ritter. Tubamobile
George, Thom Ritter. Tubasonatina
Greig, Edvard. Four Pieces. arr. Peter Rauch
Gretchaninov, Alexander. Lord, now lettest thou. arr. Thomas G. Stein
Holborne, Anthony. 10 Pieces. arr. John Stevens
Holst, Gustav T. I love my love. arr. by Thomas Stein
Holst, Gustav T. March from Military Suite in F. arr. D. Werden
Holst, Gustav T. Mars, the bringer of war. arr. by D. Butler
Haydn, Michael. Tenebrae facte sunt. arr. by Thomas Stein
Kalke, Ernst-Thilo. Requiem for a dead little cat
Lauridsen, Marten. Contre, Qui Rose. arr. Megan Evans
Mobberley, James. On Thin Ice.
Mussorgsky, Modest. The Old Castle. arr. E.Golas
Mussorgsky, Modest. Bydlo. arr. E. Golas
Pärt, A. Magnificat. arr. Thomas G. Stein
Puccini, G. Nessun dorma. arr. Thomas Stein
Rachmaninoff, Sergei. Ave Maria. arr. by Thomas Stein
Raum, E. A Little Monster Music
Rimsky-Korsakov, Nicolai. Procession of the Nobles. arr. by Mike Forbes
Rossini, Giacchino. Overture to The Barber of Seville. arr. Arthur Gottschalk
Stevens, John. Fanfare for a Friend
Stevens, John. Benediction
Shostakovich, Dimitri. Prelude, Op. 34, No. 14. arr. by Peter Rauch
Shostakovich, Dimitri. Prelude, Op. 34, No. 16. arr. by Peter Rauch
Taylor, Jeffrey. Fanfare No. 1.
Tchaikovsky, Peter. Finale from Symphony No. 4. arr. Thomas G. Stein
Traditional. Londonderry Air. arr. James Garrett
Tull, Fisher. Tubular Octad.
Vaughan Williams, R. English Folk Song Suite. arr. Thomas Stein
Williams, John. March from 1941
Wilson, Kenyon. Dance No. 1.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Tennessee Tech Tuba-Euphonium Ensemble

My trusty colleague "Braine" Cunningham gave a really good listening presentation in our brass ensemble literature class. He focused on the tuba-euphonium ensemble, so I thought it would be more than appropriate to "brog" about it.

The Tennessee Tech Tuba-Euphonium Ensemble is a pioneer in the genre. Led by Professor R. Winston Morris, the group has over 600 commissioned works and countless recital appearances, including multiple appearances at New York City's Carnegie Hall. Not bad for tubas and euphoniums, right?! The group does excellent work in terms of advocacy and education, not to mention their performance.

Go to the above link and look at all the recordings this group has done. They are the most recorded tuba-euphonium ensemble to date. Notice the variety in literature on these CDs. The recording "Braine" played was from "Unleash the Beast!" and it boasted original works for the ensemble, arrangements, transcriptions, and they even dabbled with what they called Bass Clef Jazz. These tunes incorporated drum set, guitar, and bass guitar.

Check out their website for more information. I just wanted to take the opportunity to extend a thank you and congratulations to Professor Morris and his students!

Monday, February 9, 2009

The University of Georgia Tuba-Euphonium Ensemble

David Zerkel presides over the tuba-euphonium studio at The University of Georgia. The studio is alive and well, including a strong undergraduate and graduate population. The studio has a tuba-euphonium ensemble, and after hearing them perform at the 2008 ITEC, I can safely say they are terrific!

The UGA Tuba-Euphonium Ensemble is a credit class that meets three times weekly. The group performs on campus at least once a semester and has recently performed at the 2008 International Tuba Euphonium Conference in Cincinnati, Ohio, the 2002 International Tuba Euphonium Conference in Greensboro, the 2002 Army Band Tuba Euphonium Conference in Washington, DC, and at the 2000 ITEC held in Regina, Sakatchewan.

Literature performed in this group includes serious original compositions for tuba ensemble, transcriptions of orchestral literature, and lighter transcriptions. Most of the music performed presents technical challenges that students may not encounter in their other performing organizations.

Below is a list of just some of the repertoire this group has performed:

UGA Tuba-Euphonium Ensemble Programs Since Fall 2000

Fall 2000
Paul Hindemith
Pavane, op. 50
Gabriel Faure
The Furies
Neal Corwell
Scarborough Fair
arr. Bill Reichenbach
Girolama Frescobaldi
Lazy Elephant Blues
Ingo Luis

Spring 2001
Procession of the Nobles
Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov
Variations on the "New World Symphony"
James Woodward
Overture to the Marriage of Figaro
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Introduction to Act III of Die Meistersinger
Richard Wagner
Mars, the Bringer of War (from The Planets)
Gustav Holst

Fall 2001
Now Hear This!
Ray Dempsey
Folk Song Suite
Ralph Vaughan Williams
Ave Maria
Franz Biebl
John Cheetham
Into the Magical Rainforest
Jesse Ayers
Wilke Renwick

Spring 2002
Poet and Peasant Overture
Franz von Suppe
Aldo Forte
Two Interplays
Thom Ritter George
Higashi Nishi
John Stevens

Fall 2002
Mike Forbes
Three Little Pigs
Todd Fiegel
Bavarian Stew
Rolf Wilhelm
Ave Maria
Victoria (arr. D. Castillo)

Spring 2003
Overture to the Impressario
W.A. Mozart (arr. Perry)
Burckner Etude
Enrique Crespo
Tubular Octad
Fisher Tull
Thom Ritter George
Jonathan Sass

As you can see, this studio performs a variety of transcriptions, arrangements, and original works for tubas and euphoniums. Kudos to the UGA Tuba-Euphonium Studio!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Tuba-Euphonium Quartet Listening Session

In today's Advanced Brass Ensemble Literature class, I led a listening session. To expose my class to tuba-euphonium quartet literature, the natural choice was the play selections from Sotto Voce's CD entitled Consequences. We listened to Mike Forbes's arrangement of Achieved is the Glorious Work from Haydn's The Creation. The arrangement works beautifully for a tuba quartet, but another arrangement is very popular for trombone quartet. The following excerpt is from the liner notes of the CD:

Haydn was inspired to compose his greatest oratorio, The Creation, while in London after hearing Handel's Messiah for the first time. He began writing this piece is 1796 and it received its first premiere two years later. The Creation is a musical portrayal of the world's first week as described in the Bible. Achieved is the Glorious Work (Chorus No. 28) is a microcosm of the entire work in that it praises God for creating all things magnificent and beautiful and states that "His praises shall be our song." This arrangement incorporates both the orchestral and vocal passages from this part of the oratorio.

Up next in the listening session was an original composition for tuba quartet called Profiles for Tuba Quartet. It was written by the group's second euphonium and established composer, Patrick Schulz. It exists in four movements with each movement being a musical representation of each member of Sotto Voce. Below are the liner notes from the CD:

Patrick Schulz's second quartet, written for the Sotto Voce Tuba Quartet, presents a musical portrait of every individual within the ensemble. Each of the four movements attempts to capture the essence of a different quartet member's personality. While the outer movements showcase the playing of the "outer" members in the quartet (2nd tuba in the first movement and 1st euphonium in the last), the inner movements provide a glimpse into the minds of the "inner" players (1st tuba in the second movement and 2nd euphonium in the third).

The first movement, Abrasive, pits the 2nd tuba player, Mike, against the other three players in a battle of styles, tempos, and dynamics. Mutes help the three upper players separate themselves from the often harsh and aggressive playing that Mike must use to portray his own gritty persona.

Light and Playful depicts Nat, who has been known to enjoy the occasional comic book, the toys from various kid cereals (and the cereal), and assorted "gummy" foods. Mixed meter and jazz-like harmonies allude to his incredible improvisational abilities.

Reflective is a portrayal of how the composer imagined himself while writing the entire piece: reflecting on all the quartet's time together. The movement uses some of Patrick's favorite harmonies, key areas, tempos, and quotes from some of his earlier works.

Heroic is a 1st euphonium feature, written for Demondrae, which incorporates two solo cadenzas into an extremely challenging and busy texture. This movement, which begins with a tonal canon, quickly moves toa more dissonant and chromatic context, but maintains common motives throughout. Tight and unrelenting ensemble playing is consistently demanded, in addition to the challenging solos in the 1st euphonium part.

I really enjoy Sotto Voce! A future blog post will be dedicated to them and all the work they do. Stay tuned.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Kansas State Tuba-Euphonium Studio

In light of the upcoming Great Plains Regional Tuba-Euphonium Conference, how could I not feature the host and his studio? The conference is being hosted by Dr. Steven Maxwell at Kansas State University in Manhattan, KS. The tuba-euphonium studio is very active. Their ensemble is just one of many for tuba and euphonium students. The KSU Tuba Euphonium Ensemble has been featured at numerous conferences including the 2005 Rocky Mountain States Regional Tuba Euphonium Conference held at the University Northern Colorado, and the 2003 and 2007 Great Plains Regional Tuba Euphonium Conferences held at the University of Missouri Kansas City and Missouri Western respectively. They also performed at the 2007 Kansas Music Educators Association Convention held in Wichita, Kansas. The group usually performs two to four concerts each year. On a personal note, I am happy to hear that they too have a holiday tradition, very much like the University of Iowa's Holiday Tubas tradition!

One of the best things that Dr. Maxwell has done for his students is attract world reknown tuba and euphonium artists to his campus. Artists include Sotto Voce, Adam Frey, Pat Sheridan, Steven Mead, Jason Hamm, and the National Symphony Brass Quintet. As a student, experiencing the live interaction with these artists is truly unforgettable. The chance to participate in masterclass and hear solo recitals of these performers is both inspiring and highly educational. Kudos to Dr. Maxwell and his studio.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

The University of Iowa

How could I have this blog without dedicating an entry to my beloved school? The University of Iowa Tuba-Euphonium Studio is a very active with the University and community. Lead by Professor John Manning, the tuba-euphonium ensemble, affectionately named Collegium Tubum, performs at studio recitals, campus events, and holiday celebrations. Each October the group participates in "Oktubafest" by performing at a studio recital and at a local German colony, the Amanas. The crowd at the Amana Colonies really enjoys having the group play varied repertoire, including the crowd-pleasing polkas and marches.

Being a member of this ensemble, I can attest to the importance of performing in such a group. Young tuba and euphonium players do not often get challening parts in band, let alone the chance to collaborate in chamber music with like instruments. The skills acquired through the performance of chamber music are crucial to the development of the well-rounded musician. Intonation, balance, blend, and developing an ensemble sound are just some of the benefits of playing in this group.

A shameless plug-in, The University of Iowa Tuba-Euphonium Studio has been invited to perform at the 2009 Great Plains Regional Tuba-Euphonium Conference, something we have cleverly called GrapeTec. This experience will be great exposure for the Iowa School of Music. Having suffered the loss of the Voxman Music Building because of devasting floods from June 2008, this conference appearance is yet another way for this group to show that music is alive and well in Iowa!

The buzz with tuba-euphonium ensembles

I had never had the chance to play in a tuba-euphonium ensemble while I was an undergraduate student. In fact, I don't think I really knew the group even existed. When I got to graduate school at The University of Iowa, I was immediately introduced to it...now I'm hooked! There are so many things that this ensemble can do. Granted, not all music written in this genre is good, but the same can be said for band, choir, orchestra, and jazz. With this blog, I hope to discuss the importance of the tuba-euphonium ensemble, highlight some collegiate tuba-euphonium studios/ensembles, and examine professional level groups like Sotte Voce or Tubalate. In the end, I hope to show that this group is capable of doing more than polkas and drunken party songs.