This weekend, I was honored to be a part of Slippery Rock University's biennial Tuba-Euphonium Day at The Rock. Dr. Brian Meixner, who teachers low-brass and conducts the wind ensemble and brass ensemble at SRU, hosts this wonderful, free event. Patrick Sheridan was there as tuba guest artist and ensemble clinician, and I was honored to be representing the US Army Field Band as the euphonium guest artist.
Slippery Rock University is about an hour north of Pittsburgh. I flew in on Thursday from our last stop of tour, in North Carolina. That evening, I had a rehearsal with the pianist I would be collaborating with for my recital.
On Friday, I worked with five of Brian's fantastic euphonium students. They were a joy to teach. During brass ensemble rehearsal, I caught them cracking smiles at one of Pat's more successful jokes. :)
Both the SRU wind ensemble and brass ensemble were treated to their own clinic by Mr. Patrick Sheridan. It was a pleasure for me to watch him work with the students. I am always so motivated when I observe great teachers. Below, he's either catching flies, or demonstrating breathing techniques to the SRU Brass Band. :)
I can't say enough about Dr. Brian Meixner. The work he is doing with these young musicians is outstanding. When you meet and hear his students, it is evident that they are being motivated, inspired, and instructed by one of the best.
The main event kicked off on Saturday with a mass-reading session for all participants. These good-natured gatherings are always interesting because you've got a wide range of levels, from middle-school beginners to professionals. The sound is generally quite glorious. Even if a sour note escapes the texture from time to time, at least it's a pretty darn impressive sight, eh?
This guy wanted to be sure he was hitting all the right notes.
The first reading session covered a wide variety of tunes. Of these, Brian, Pat and I each selected one piece to conduct for the final concert. Mainly because I love a good stereotype, I ended up going with an arrangement of The Washington Post.
After a quick break, the day continued with a masterclass and clinic by Patrick and myself. Major kudos to the students who performed in the masterclass. It's always tough to get up there and have yourself picked apart in front of a large group of people. These four students were very prepared and a pleasure to work with. The clinics went by quickly. During my session, there were lots of great questions about military bands, which I always enjoy talking about. Below, you can see me imparting some nugget of questionable wisdom.
The large ensemble gathered together one last time to briefly rehearse our tunes for the final concert.
These guys look like they are having fun. I love that so many nearby students were able to make it out to Tuba-Euphonium Day. I would have loved something like this when I was their age.
Here's a shot of Dr. Meixner working with the large ensemble.
The grand finale of Tuba-Euphonium Day at The Rock was the evening concert. The SRU Tuba-Euphonium Ensemble opened up the show, followed by my recital portion. Here is a list of what I performed:
Napoli- Bellstedt; "Flower Duet" from Lakmé- Delibes; Blue-Green Day- Murchison; Holy Well- Graham; Harlequin- Sparke.
I was honored to collaborate with Dr. Meixner for the "Flower Song." We are euphonium kindred spirits. After I finished, Pat Sheridan came out and absolutely rocked. Watching him perform blew me away. What an artist.
Could there be any better way to bring a great day to a close than a giant tuba-euphonium ensemble? Here I am laying down the beats for a little John Philip Sousa action.
The whole weekend was fabulous. It was an honor for me to perform and teach, and I learned so much being around world-class musicians Patrick Sheridan and Brian Meixner. I can't thank Brian and his wife Audrey enough for their hospitality. I definitely need to give a shout-out to the North Country Brewing Company. This gem of Slippery Rock, PA provided many tasty beverages and good eats after the concert. If you are ever in the area, you MUST go.
Western Pennsylvania is gorgeous, and I loved spending time and making music with great friends. I wasn't too sad to leave, however, as I would be going home for the first time in 39 days!