Glenn’s Trumpet Notes

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Archive for December 30th, 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.

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