Glenn’s Trumpet Notes

News & Tips for Trumpet & Cornet Students

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Archive for December, 2009

Christmas Eve Concert–Cornet and Piano Duet

Posted by glennled on December 30, 2009

"O Holy Night"

The Christmas Eve tradition in our family, hosted in our home, goes like this. All family members who are in town come over for dinner. (We have two grown sons, a daughter and three grandkids in southern California, Las Vegas, and New Zealand.) This year we were 10 locals (including four grandchildren) around our dining room table. After dinner, we sing Christmas carols. My wife is a piano instructor. While she plays, everyone sings the lyrics from the songbook she created a few years ago, especially for this annual occasion. Once, one of our local grandsons played the clarinet for us. This year it was my turn to solo at the family concert. I played “O Holy Night,” accompanied by my wife. Our daughter videoed our duet. I encouraged all my students to play something for their families during their own holiday festivities.

After Bible readings from Luke and Isaiah about Jesus Christ, the Messiah, and prayer, we do what the kids have been patiently waiting for: open presents! Finally, there is an evening snack, and they all go home, stomachs full, arms and hands laden with prize gifts, faces beaming, and eyes sparkling. Santa Claus is coming tonight!

My cornet is a “Super Olds” model with the nickel-silver rimmed bell, made by F.E. Olds & Son in Los Angeles. Miles Davis, Freddie Hubbard, Lee Morgan, Louis Prima, and Raphael Mendez are among those who played various Olds instruments. Olds started making trombones in about 1910, and later added other brass instruments, introducing the Super Olds line in 1932. My cornet ranked in the mid-range of the various Olds models of its time. Today, the equivalent horn probably costs about $1,700. Mine cost my parents $250, and I was so proud! Why did I choose a cornet? Simple: our high school band director specified that we all play cornets, not trumpets. He preferred the cornet’s more mellow tone and wanted a cornet section, not a trumpet section, in his band.

My Super Olds has been around. I played it all through high school and college. It took me to All-State Band in Texas and on music scholarship to Abilene Christian College and the University of Washington. It went to the Rose Bowl when we marched in the Rose Bowl Parade and gave a half-time performance during the football game: UW Huskies beat U of Minnesota Gophers, 17-7. Now I play it in the Husky Alumni Band.

I’ve played my Super Olds in concert, jazz, dance, and pep bands, in orchestras for operas and musicals, and in a U.S. Navy bugle corps. It’s traveled from Texas to Washington to Rhode Island. And now I’ve played it in a duet with my lovely wife in our own warm living room for our own special family. Yes, my horn looks a little worn, but it plays as well as ever. I like that.

Posted in Musical Events at Home | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Holiday Pops with Cirque De La Symphonie, Seattle Symphony

Posted by glennled on December 14, 2009

Yesterday, my wife and I returned to Benaroya Hall in Seattle with two close relatives to attend the annual Holiday Pops concert. This year the Seattle Symphony was accompanied by the Cirque De La Symphonie. Their seven artists performed incredible “circus” acts while the symphony played music by Leroy Anderson, Ralph Vaugh Williams, Tchaikovsky, Saint-Saens, Bizet, Schubert and others. Our unanimous favorite act was that by Alexander Streltsov, aerial artist, to “Ave Maria” by Franz Schubert, arranged by Carmen Dragon. It was a spectacular sight and lovely sound. The combination of Schubert’s music and Streltsov’s movements, poses, and soarings was a magnificient interpretation of what it must have meant to be Mary, mother of Jesus, Son of God. Our second favorite artist was Christine Van Loo, also an aerial artist, who performed twice. Her first act was accompanied by “Walking in the Air” from “The Snowman Suite,” by Howard Blake, arranged by Tony Osborne. Her second was performed to “Waltz of the Flowers” from “The Nutcracker” by Tchaikovsky. Both were superb.

For this performance, the brass section was composed of four trumpets, four French horns, three trombones, and one tuba–I counted. Boy, can they take over, with solid, powerful punch and depth, whenever the conductor wants them to!

I believe the classical orchestra is a signal achievement of western civilization and culture. Can you think of any other culture that has produced any comparable organization for the performance of its music? The variety of orchestral instruments is amazing in itself. And the variety and complexity of music which they can collectively produce as a group is unique–the range of expression of the western orchestra cannot be found anywhere else in the world. And the composers who write music for the orchestra–these are the highest artists on the musical totem pole, in my opinion.  The composers are the creators. They are the best of the best, and their best works last for centuries.

Yes, the orchestra is limited. Like anything else created by humans, it cannot do everything, cannot fulfill every need and desire. And all other cultures have produced unique, expressive music, some of it utterly fantastic. However, their groups, their musical organizations, their genres, also are limited–and I contend they are much more limited than the western orchestra in their variety of sounds and expression of human experience. Orchestral music demands the highest level of mastery from all its pieces and parts, from the composer to the conductor to the musicians to the instruments to the concert halls. As you know, I love bands–marching, concert, pep, dance, jazz, any kind of band. But to me, the western classical orchestra is king–I tip my hat in salute to the orchestra.

Posted in Professional Concerts | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

 
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