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.