Brass Area Seminar – April 17, 2014

This week’s Brass Area Seminar featured by five chamber groups, including the Old Capitol Brass Quintet, a Trombone Quartet, a Horn Quartet, a Tuba/Euphonium Quartet and a Trumpet Quintet. I was very impressed with all of the performances and quite proud to heard such great music making from everyone. Due to the full program, we will be posting our comments here and invite all students to post theirs as well.

Here are my comments and observations:

1. Old Capitol Brass Quintet (Hidas) – The group blend and expression was excellent. The tone of the very opening was so bright it sounded angry, but warmed up quite nicely. Remember, when projecting in the forte range to think of it more as “full” than  “loud” to maintain a nice tone. The balance in this room (Music West Atrium) was excellent and the group blended well. The tuba/trombone triplets weren’t quite together on the triplets before the horn solo. Megan, nice job on the solo. Be sure to let the longer notes and ending notes “sing” a bit more. The pitch and tone matching while muted still needs work. Nice group phrasing in slow, homo-rhythmic section. During some individual solos, even the short ones, the clarity and response needs improvement. Great ending and overall an excellent performance.

2. Trombone Quartet (Agrell – Gospel Time) Collegium Tubum has performed this work several times and it’s great to have a resident composer in the brass area [who gave you a well-deserved standing ovation!] Nice group blend, but be sure to maintain a consistent pulse to maintain that great momentum you created. Great solos by everyone. Be sure to work on pitch and tone at the top of your ranges. In the last fast section, watch the intonation on the octaves. Great job guys!

3. Horn Quartet (Verne Reynolds) Nice job and beautiful selection. Be sure to work on starting cleanly and make sure everyone is ready. I would suggest making better eye contact and breathing together in time. Low horns should strive to be more solid on pitch, as the upper horns are relying on you for a foundation to tune to. Nice work!

 

4. Tuba/Euphonium Quartet (Brink) Nice shirts! Very nice performance overall. A few things: Jayna, remember to stand to announce and speak loudly and clearly. Sometimes the rhythm/time is a bit inconsistent. Remember that when playing minimalistic music (that repeats a lot of material) you must be consistent with both playing and breathing. Occasionally the transition from triplets to duple rhythm rushed. Great variety of dynamics and overall affect.

5. Trumpet Quartet  (City Scapes by Eric Morales) Very nice group sound. Lower trumpets should strive for a warmer tone in the low range. Great energy and group momentum. Try adding a decrescendo to vamps; this strongly sets the groove then gets the background out of the way to introduce the melody. In the second and third movements, make sure that the melody and harmony balances – sometimes the harmony overpowered the melody. I loved the mouthpiece tapping effect, especially when the valves were activated to change the pitch – I have never heard that extended technique. Great job everyone!

Thank you again to all of the performers, and remember to start planning YOUR chamber music group for next semester!

 

3 Comments

  1. Old Capitol Brass Quinet – Hidas
    • Good improvement from earlier in the year.
    • Keep working to match articulation style.
    • Listen to your colleagues in the ensemble as themes are passed around. Try to match the style in every way.
    • Look!! The chorale passages are not together. You need to communicate.
    • There is a lot of dissonance in this piece. Don’t be tempted to avoid tuning dissonances. Dissonances should “slot” just like consonances.
    • Unisons and octaves need better intonation.
    • Who is “in charge,” if anyone? Who is the leader? I see very little communication during the performance. You need to communicate, especially when you enter new segments of the music.
    • Re-articulations after breaths are rarely together. Breath together; play together.
    • Get your eyes out of the music!
    • There are a lot of good things going on. Individuals are playing their parts well, but the ensemble could be better at playing together. Get out of the music and work together to make a good ensemble.

    34 Trombone Quartet – Agrell
    • Take the time to tune and get set up, especially if you are just coming from a class.
    • Make more of an emphasis of the back beat (2 & 4).
    • Individual solos are being performed well. Try to make them sound improvised, rather than written. Try memorizing them.
    • Nice job!

    Four Play Horn Quartet – Reynolds
    • Tune. You sat for more than twenty minutes while other groups performed. Take the time to prepare and get set to play.
    • You need to communicate more as a group. There were a few times when members of the ensemble were trying to communicate, but you could be doing more.

    Tuba/Euphonium Quartet – Kramer
    • Great piece!
    • The group accelerando was fantastic.
    • Solid intonation throughout.
    • Very well prepared. Great ensemble performance!

    Undergraduate Trumpet Quintet – Morales
    • 16th notes that are being passed around are not even. They are usually compressed on the front side of the beat. Work for evenness at all times.
    • I know the 5th trumpet part is very low, but it needs to be as crisp and as resonant at the other trumpet parts.
    • Move together. Things are not always coordinated. Some individual passages enter at a different tempo than what the ensemble was doing previously. Always listen.
    • I feel like the dynamic contrast throughout the three movements was very minimal. I could use a LOT more contrast.
    • Most of the piece sounds very well rehearsed ands stage-ready.
    • The ensemble/backing voices should stay under the solo lines. Sometimes it was difficult to hear the soloists.

  2. Old Capitol Brass Quinet – Hidas

    • Good improvement from earlier in the year.
    • Keep working to match articulation style.
    • Listen to your colleagues in the ensemble as themes are passed around. Try to match the style in every way.
    • Look!! The chorale passages are not together. You need to communicate.
    • There is a lot of dissonance in this piece. Don’t be tempted to avoid tuning dissonances. Dissonances should “slot” just like consonances.
    • Unisons and octaves need better intonation.
    • Who is “in charge,” if anyone? Who is the leader? I see very little communication during the performance. You need to communicate, especially when you enter new segments of the music.
    • Re-articulations after breaths are rarely together. Breath together; play together.
    • Get your eyes out of the music!
    • There are a lot of good things going on. Individuals are playing their parts well, but the ensemble could be better at playing together. Get out of the music and work together to make a good ensemble.

    34 Trombone Quartet – Agrell

    • Take the time to tune and get set up, especially if you are just coming from a class.
    • Make more of an emphasis of the back beat (2 & 4).
    • Individual solos are being performed well. Try to make them sound improvised, rather than written. Try memorizing them.
    • Nice job!

    Four Play Horn Quartet – Reynolds

    • Tune. You sat for more than twenty minutes while other groups performed. Take the time to prepare and get set to play.
    • You need to communicate more as a group. There were a few times when members of the ensemble were trying to communicate, but you could be doing more.

    Tuba/Euphonium Quartet – Kramer

    • Great piece!
    • The group accelerando was fantastic.
    • Solid intonation throughout.
    • Very well prepared. Great ensemble performance!

    Undergraduate Trumpet Quintet – Morales

    • 16th notes that are being passed around are not even. They are usually compressed on the front side of the beat. Work for evenness at all times.
    • I know the 5th trumpet part is very low, but it needs to be as crisp and as resonant at the other trumpet parts.
    • Move together. Things are not always coordinated. Some individual passages enter at a different tempo than what the ensemble was doing previously. Always listen.
    • I feel like the dynamic contrast throughout the three movements was very minimal. I could use a LOT more contrast.
    • Most of the piece sounds very well rehearsed ands stage-ready.
    • The ensemble/backing voices should stay under the solo lines. Sometimes it was difficult to hear the soloists.

  3. amyschendel01

    4/17/14 Brass Seminar Comments
    Amy Schendel

    It was really exciting to hear 5 chamber groups perform yesterday at the combined seminar! Congratulations to everyone who played! The experience of chamber playing can be truly joyful. Continue to seek out new collaborations and opportunities. Be proactive and ask others from outside your own studio to form a chamber group!

    Overall, I thought all the performances yesterday were strong and a lot of fun to listen to. Here are a few brief comments:

    1. Old Capitol Brass Quintet: I really enjoyed the Hidas! There seemed to be some intonation inaccuracies, mainly in the slower sections of the piece. The softer group entrances were not entirely locked. This happened several times. I think the overall sound of the group is good, and I enjoyed the colors of the quintet that came out of Hidas’ writing. I do think that there could be even stronger homogeneity as a group with sound, pitch, and entrances/phrase endings.

    2. Trombone Quartet: Great piece and fun to listen to! Nice sound as a group and great musical ideas. The trading off of solos could have been a more seamless. Work on more acute communication between players. I also thought you could have taken even more musical chances. Take what you’re already doing and elevate it.

    3. Horn Quartet: I really enjoyed the performance and felt the group blended well together. You could improve on eye contact and general communication around the group (maybe arc the group a bit more). Be sure phrasing ideas and shaping are clear with everyone.

    4. Tuba/Euphonium Quartet: Really effective performance! Well prepared and musically effective! The group had nice variation with dynamics and great technical work. Sometimes the repetitive material felt a bit inconsistent. Well done!

    5. Trumpet Quintet: Great work! I know the hard work that went into preparing this piece and it certainly shows. The 3rd movement tempo began to get a bit unstable in certain sections. You need to be listening carefully and remain stable with time as individuals while, at the same time, being fully aware of the group’s time and fitting into that. There was a particular lack of dynamics in the performance as well. Seemed to be all one sound and dynamic the whole 3rd movement and, even the slow 2nd movement lacked real dynamic variation. Style and musicality need to be much stronger from every player! Communication from each player also needs to be much stronger (more eye contact). Seemed like everyone was stuck in their own stand.