In preparing for my next recital, I took to YouTube to find recordings of some newer pieces that weren't available on Spotify. Specifically, I was looking for a recording of David Amram's Bassoon Concerto, which I fully intend on programming for my November recital at UNLV. I wasn't prepared for what I found.
The only recording of the concerto I found on YouTube is from Canadian bassoonist Eric Mohr. It was brilliant. And then I went stalking and found that all of his videos are AMAZING. Check it out here if you have some spare time. It's quite the treat. Bravo, Eric!
The trio I play with, Metalwood Trio, recently was contracted to play a wedding at a golf resort in Vegas. As the staff arranger (which is a fancy title for I arranged everything), I arranged several pieces for us. My favorite arrangement is Wedding Day at Troldhaugen, originally for piano by Edvard Grieg. I liked it so much, I thought I'd share it with all of you---for free!!!
Download the score and parts below:
Please enjoy! If you perform it, let me know!!
This week's #freshfindsfriday is a special one for me. This is the 3rd movement ("By the Sea") from Four Atmospheres of Edgar Allan Poe by English composer Jonathan Ellson. This piece is special for me because, in 2007 I commissioned it! This was the first commission I undertook and was so excited at the way it came out. I haven't actually ever performed it (for whatever reason), so I thought I'd share some of it here for you!
I was just having a conversation with someone earlier this week about why I don't make reeds at home. I try very hard to only process cane (gouge, shape, and/or profile) at home because I'm easily distracted. A lot of people do homework or clean or do other tasks with TV or music on in the background. I like to do that, too. However, doing it while I'm mindlessly shaping cane is different than when I'm doing fine tip work.
Recently, though, I have started listening to YouTube videos while I do tip work. I still don't do tip work at home very frequently (I like to use Janis McKay's office at UNLV or the UNLV reed room), but now I find listening to a specific kind of YouTube video isn't distracting. I've tried to listen to orchestral performances or watch TV (through Hulu or a similar service)...but this is the only thing I can listen to while I do tip work...
That's right....serial killer documentaries. Today's riveting documentary is "Harold Jones: The Welsh Child Killer". I'm not sure why this doesn't distract me. I think my affinity for murder-mystery anything (as evidenced by my obsession with the board game Clue) makes me focus a bit more.
Before you unfollow me because of that really weird tidbit, tell me what you listen to when you make reeds!
Boy, am I going to catch heat for this one...
Recently, a colleague of mine posted a picture of a marching band excerpt to Facebook asking for strategies to help her student learn the excerpt. This student is one of those kids in band programs across the country who is the best of his group but lacks fundamental training and a baseline of skills. We all know those kids. I was one of those kids when I started playing bassoon. I couldn't play my chromatic scale and didn't know what flick keys were--but I was principal in the San Bernardino County Honor Band in 2003!
In looking at my friend's post, it seemed odd to me that she had tagged me in it. "Hmmm," I thought. "I'm not a clarinetist...what help could I possibly be?" Then I saw the excerpt...
The opening to Le Sacre du Printemps...for marching band...
It suddenly made sense why I was tagged in the photo with about 10 other bassoonists.
This brought up a lively debate on the merits of this work and how to teach a student to play something they aren't ready for (not to mention play something that wasn't intended for their instrument). Until, of course, the band director of said high school chimed in. He came to the defense of his program, igniting a series of comments which spoke to exposing kids to this type of literature and how marching band is a fundamental tool in the aid of musical development...
...which got me thinking---is it? Is marching band a fundamental tool in the development of musicality, musicianship, collegiality, etc...? I was in marching band all four years in high school. I've seen marching bands do big shows (one year, an 875 piece band marched Pines of Rome). But just because we can do things like this...does it mean we should?
I think there is a place for marching band in the world. Especially in the West, it seems, marching band is a cult-like phenomenon which obviously can't just go away. But I think getting students to play things they can't/shouldn't (e.g., a high school clarinetist [or anyone for that matter] playing one of the most difficult bassoon excerpts ever on a football to the box) is a detriment. Have new music commissioned specifically for the marching band idiom. Do really awesome shows that are designed for the field to teach kids about blend, power chords, whatever---just leave concert hall music in the concert hall. I don't think we'd ever see "Jock Jams, presented by the New York Philharmonic"...so let's not watch as things like Rite of Spring are thrown on a football field.
I've been talking with my colleague Bronson Foster a lot lately about niche ideas in the music world. Podcasts, vlogging (like my friend and colleague Eryn Oft), blogging (á la yours truly), etc...
I thought my contribution would be this thing I'm calling Fresh Finds Friday (accompanied by a mighty slick hashtag). The idea behind Fresh Finds Friday is to record yourself playing something new (or new to you), something you enjoy, and/or something you want to share with the world. The point here isn't a polished performance--it isn't a recital. But just playing for fun and sharing that fun. Or whatever motives you---the debate on whether or not music is "for fun" isn't what I want to drum up here.
For my first #freshfindsfriday, I will share a video of my "performing" Jabberwocky Jam by John Falcone. I've liked this piece for a really long time. While I'll probably not recital it (at least not until I have a secure job somewhere and the freedom to do whatever I want), I do play through it. This was the first time I read the narration (sorry, Carroll fans!). Check it out below!
I hope you'll join me in #freshfindsfriday...or whatever day you want to upload stuff!
A few months ago, I started following Eryn Oft on Instagram (@erynoft). She is the Professor of Double Reeds at Jacksonville State University and is an all around great musician (but I'm not biased!). She and I recently became Facebook friends which lead to an interesting conversation about her cane trials taking place this summer. For more on that, check out this blog post.
Eryn is trying out Medir, Cote d'Azure, Charles, Glotin, Pisoni, Reiger, RDG, and Vandoren cane. Feeling inspired by this (and at a point of terminal FRUSTRATION with my current reed supply), I've decided to piggy-back on her great idea by also doing my own reed trials!
I'm trying out Danzi (in both a Fox 3 and a Christlieb shape), Medir (but with a goblet shape), Reiger, and Gonzalez (with the Bocal Majority shape). I will probably eventually order more, but we will see.
Why should you pay attention to both?!!?
Here's the most awesome thing about following both Eryn's trials and mine: we are going to get very different results which will benefit YOU in the long run! Eryn lives in the South; I live in the West. She has her own reed making method; I have mine.
But it should be fascinating to see what we come across. Check out her Medir review at the above linked blog post and follow us on social media below!
Eryn's Instagram (@erynoft) Kevin's Instagram (@kevinreberle)
Eryn's Blog (here) Kevin's Facebook (here)
Stay tuned for my trials reviews and subscribe to Eryn's blog to get hers!