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!