I love the idea of blogs! That said, I’m really amazed that so many colleagues can find the time to keep up with these on a regular basis.
Following the Christmas break, the usual frantic pace of the Spring semester began. It’s been a great semester, but packed almost so full that there is no time to reflect upon what we are doing. I’m not the first to bemoan this fact, but it is troubling in a very deep spiritual way. We are involved with many wonderful projects – both educational and artistic – but there really isn’t time alloted to relish the effects and take stock of the outcomes. Somehow, this makes much of what should be a deeply enriching experience seem reduced to busywork.
Well, enough of that for now. So what’s been happening for the last 3 months you ask……
The first weeks of this semester saw the studio in a bit of chaos as we relocated from Russell Hall to the Gallagher-Bluedorn Performing Arts Center (GBPAC). The long awaited renovation of Russell Hall has begun. I am scheduled to move back into the newly refurbished tuba studio in August, but the bulk of Russell Hall will close in May and remain closed until the summer of 2008. Next fall it is anticipated that only the new practice rooms in Russell Hall and the offices on the ‘back hallway’ including all the brass faculty will be open. If this semester is any indication, it should be a very interesting year ahead!
UNITUBA and Studio
It’s a really great group of folks this year, both from a performance standard and from a the standpoint of personalities. We performed a 20 minute concert for the Northern Festival of Bands participants in early February and then prepared a program for a Waterloo West HS fundraising event to help raise money to buy a tuba. Unfortunately, the actual performance for the Fundraiser was cancelled due to a snow/ice storm. A couple of weeks later, UNITUBA was very involved in the Hawkeye Regional Tuba and Euphonium Conference held at the University of Iowa. We performed a concert on Saturday evening of the Conference. On April 9, the group will join with the UNI Trumpet Ensemble to play for a series of High Schools in the Cedar Rapids area. The main recital of the spring will occur on April 19th in Davis Hall on the UNI Campus.
The program this spring features a 3 movement original work for tuba/euphonium ensemble composed by one of our tubists, Marc Wigim. We also are performing 2 arrangements done by our euphoniumist, Joe Kopacz. One arrangement is a Faure work featuring 2 solo euphoniums with tuba ensemble accompaniment and the other is a 6 part arrangement of Albinoni’s Adagio in g minor. All 3 of these are completely new works and have been very well received.
There have been 4 students (Keya John, Jeff Waldschmitt, Nate Miller, Jacob Guelff) involved in recital presentations so far this semester and 1 more (Joe Kopacz) will do a recital next week. Additionally, the Tuba Quartet performed a half recital in February and also premiered a new tuba/euphonium quartet composed by a graduate composition major. Euphoniumist Joe Kopacz advanced to the final round of the UNI Performance Competition playing the ‘Fantasia di Concerto’ by Eduardo Boccalari.
Spring is audition season!
There have been 9 tuba and euphonium students auditioning for admission to the studio this year. Students from Iowa, Illinois and Minnesota have come for visitations, lessons and auditions. There have been some really fine players and I anticipate that we will likely have 1 new graduate tubist and about 4–5 new undergraduate tuba/euphonium students in the fall. Additionally, we will be welcoming back a former member who will be transferring back from another institution. There should be some good ‘new blood’ for the studio in the Fall.
Northern Brass Quintet reborn
For 30 years, the Northern Brass Quintet had been a resident faculty ensemble in the School of Music. For various reasons, the ensemble has not been functioning for most of the past 10 years. Beginning in January, we reconstituted the ensemble and had it’s initial performance for the participants at the Northern Festival of Bands. On February 20, NBQ performed Victor Ewald’s Quintet No. 1 on a Faculty Chamber Music Recital presented in the GBPAC Great Hall. Additionally, we took part in a ‘Birth of the Cool’ ensemble featuring works made famous on an early Miles Davis recording. The NBQ will present a full recital on April 10 in Davis Hall of the GBPAC. Works included on the program will be the Ewald Quintet as well as ‘Armenian Scenes’ by Arutunian, Centone No. XI – a Verne Reynolds arrangement of works by William Boyce, JS Bach ‘Contrapunctus I’ arranged by Sauer and an Ingo Luis arrangement of ‘Round Midnight’.
Cedar Rapids Symphony
The spring has featured sporadic work for tuba at the symphony. We performed Mahler’s Sym. No.l on February 17 and then there have been a series of concerts which have not used tuba. On April 28 there will be a CR Symphony Chamber Music concert which will feature the Symphony Brass Quintet. We will be premiering a new work for Brass Quintet and percussion written by Michael Kimber, ‘Myriad’ for Brass Quintet and Percussion. Also on the program will be Leonard Bernstein’s final work, ‘Dance Suite’.
Iowa Composers Forum
On April 7, UNI will host a meeting of the Iowa Composers Forum. I will be performing a work for solo tuba by composer Warren Gooch entitled ‘Prayer of David’. It’s a work of approximately 5 minute duration that is essentially an extended monologue for solo tuba. These events are always very important for generating new music for our instruments and demonstrating the musical possibilities that are offered by the tuba nd euphonium.
Memphis Regional Tuba Conference
On April 20 I will fly to Memphis Tennessee to take part in a regional tuba/euphonium conference hosted there by John Mueller. I will be chairing the Mock Orchestral Competition and also presenting a clinic on instrument maintenance and repair.
For the past few years I have been fairly heavily involved in the faculty union here at UNI. I am currently the Vice President and also was a member of this year’s negotiating committee which worked with representatives of the Iowa Board of Regents to arrive at a new 2 year contract for the UNI Faculty. It was a very interesting and time consuming process, but one which was very educational in many ways!
So, there’s a snapshot of what has been and continues to happen these days. Each week brings more great performances and interesting possibilities for those that don’t mind falling behind on sleep!! Hopefully the nicer weather that we have enjoyed in Cedar Falls this past week will continue through the remaining weeks of the semester!!