Glenn’s Trumpet Notes

News & Tips for Trumpet & Cornet Students

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Posts Tagged ‘ensembles’

More Bands with Brilliant Brass at 2019 Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo in Scotland

Posted by glennled on August 27, 2019

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Opening Fanfare, 2019 Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, Edinburgh Castle, Scotland

 

The theme of this year’s Royal Ediniburgh Military Tattoo in Scotland was “Kaleidoscope 2019—A Celebration of Glorious Symmetry.” This iconic tattoo is in its 69th season. More than 14 million people have attended the tattoo, and attendance has been a sell-out for 20 consecutive years. It’s spectacular. This year’s show was performed nightly from 2-24 August (~three weeks) on the esplanade of Edinburgh Castle, and my wife and I attended for the fourth time. We went on opening night. The planning, skill, fitness, discipline, obedience, alertness, teamwork, intelligence, and willpower on display in this show are indicative of what makes an effective, victorious military. And the music is terrific!

The current show features more bands with brass instruments than the other three that we have attended, so it’s one of my favorites. I shot about 400 photos, with close attention on trumpet players. Wouldn’t it be a thrill to perform in this world-famous tattoo, “the Granddaddy of Them All?” Here are a few photos.

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Pipe bands cross the Edinburgh Castle drawbridge onto the esplanade

Performers came from Scotland, England, Ireland, Canada, New Zealand, France, China, Nepal, Tasmania, Nigeria, Trinidad, and Tabago. I love the pipes and drums, but I also love conventional wind bands comprised of brass, woodwind, and percussion instruments. This year, there were more than the usual number of the latter (in order of appearance):

  • Guards Brigade Band, Silent Drill Platoon and Nigerian Cultural Ensemble
  • Heeresmusikkorps Kassel (Army Band Kassel, Germany)
  • Music De L’Artillerie (Artillery Band of the French Army)
  • Beijing Marching Wind Band and Cultural Display (China)
  • New Zealand Army Band
  • Band of the Scots Guards
  • Band of the Irish Guards
  • Band of the Royal Regiment of Scotland
  • Tattoo Stage Band

For me, the abundance of these bands made this year’s tattoo one of the top two which I’ve attended. And I’m always thrilled with anticipation when the herald trumpets sound the fanfare to open the show. This year two trumpet ensembles played “Pure Light” and “The Prism.”

The kaleidoscope was invented in 1816 by the Scotsman, Sir David Brewster. The instrument displays infinite combinations of patterns and colors. One hundred and twelve years earlier, in 1704, Sir Isaac Newton named seven hues of color in the visible spectrum of light: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet (ROYGBIV). Various mixtures of these hues form all colors, including white. Each group in the show was assigned one of Newton’s hues to use in its performance, thus creating a kaleidoscopic effect, representing the “fabulous and constantly changing human mosaic.”

More than 800 musicians created a human kaleidoscope image when they assembled together as the massed military bands and massed pipes and drums . Watching the many intricate, technically precise formations, maneuvers, and movements of the marchers and dancers, dressed in multi-colored uniforms and clothes, was like watching the ever-changing images inside a kaleidoscope.

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Side-stepping by The French Artillery Band Lyon

If you can’t get to Edinburgh for the next tattoo, perhaps you could attend one of these:

Anne, Her Royal Highness, The Princess Royal, is Patron of The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo. She writes in the tattoo program, “…the glorious symmetries of marching men and women, their disciplined approach—whatever the weather!—the music, the lighting, the projections [onto the castle wall], fireworks, special effects, the storyline and the appreciation of the audience are the very essence of ‘Tattoo.'”

The tattoo is a not-for-profit charity and has raised more than 11 million pounds for many good armed services beneficiaries and arts organizations over the years.

For my accounts of two of the past three tattoos we have attended, please see my blog posts of 6 September 2018 and 18 September 2014, using the Archives in the left column. Please click on any photo to enlarge it.

 

Posted in Ceremonies & Celebrations, Festivals & Competitions, Professional Concerts | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

North Creek High School’s First Music Concert, Bothell

Posted by glennled on December 17, 2017

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First music concert at the new North Creek High School, Bothell, 7 December 2017

Pearl Harbor Day—that’s what I first think of when I hear the date, 7 Dec. But that was 1941, and on that date in 2017, people with kids in the band, orchestra, and choir at the new North Creek High School (NCHS) in Bothell will also remember it as the date when NCHS held its very first music concert. And I shall remember the concert for yet another reason—9 of my former students played their instruments that night in the Jazz Band, Symphonic Band, and Wind Ensemble.

IMG_4471 - Trumpeter & Guitarist
Trumpeter and guitari

Of the six trumpet players in Symphonic Band, I taught five of them at Skyview Jr. High School and gave three of them private lessons. Of the two trumpeters in Jazz Band, I gave one of them private lessons. Of the five trumpet players in Wind Ensemble, I taught one of them both in private lessons and classes at Skyview. He now plays guitar in Jazz Band and trumpet in Wind Ensemble. In fact, he played a solo during “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy” by the Jazz Band.

Since then, three of my ex-students have switched to other instruments: one to oboe, one to French horn, and one to tuba.

IMG_4517 (2) - Dr. Debbie Montague, Director of Instrumental Music

Dr. Debbie Montague, NCHS Director of Instrumental Music

Listening to the excellent instrumental music, conducted by Debbie Montague, Ph.D., Director of Instrumental Music, I was very proud of my ex-students’ progress. They have much more to anticipate under her tutelage. Dr. Montague came to NCHS from Kenmore Jr. High School, where she had developed an outstanding program. Her Symphonic Bands at KJHS performed throughout the USA, including the National Conference for Music Educators (2002) and at multiple Festivals of Gold, which are high school festivals by invitation. I’ve blogged about this twice—please see my posts of 16 March 2012 and 13 November 2010. Dr. Montague is a member of the Washington Music Educators’ Hall of Fame (www.wmea.org).

She believes in education of the whole child and advocates “hands-on, activity-based music curriculum for all children.” Also, she has considerable accomplishments in African ensemble music.

But this concert was not all about trumpets and other wind instruments, bands, and IMG_4458 (2) - Teresa Sullivan, Director of Choral Music & Nick Tagabensembles. The orchestra and several choirs performed excellently, too. Terresa (Terry) Sullivan, Director of Choral Music, conducted five choirs, singing eight pieces. Ms. Sullivan came to NCHS from Inglemoor High School in Kenmore, where she was both Choir Director and Music Department Chair (see my post of 29 April 2015). The Combined Choir closed with “Carol of the Bells.” The orchestra, conducted by Dr. Montague, played two pieces led by the concertmaster, who is a member of the All-State Orchestra.

The final group to perform was the Wind Ensemble. “A Christmas Flourish” was their first piece, and they concluded the concert with “African Holy Night.”

Please click on any photo to enlarge it.

NCHS Jazz Band

 

NCHS Symphonic Band

NCHS Wind Ensemble

 

NCHS Orchestra

NCHS Choirs

Posted in School Concerts | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Does Rossini’s “Cinderella” Opera from 1817 Play Well in 2013?

Posted by glennled on January 22, 2013

On Sunday, 13 January, it was time for my wife and me (opera novices) to be re-introduced to Gioachino Antonio Rossini, the blog_poster_cinderella, 1-13-13composer whose nickname was “The Italian Mozart.” We were both familiar with The Barber of Seville, but it was so long ago, we can hardly be sure of when, where and what. So off we drove to McCaw Hall not knowing what to expect to see and hear at the Seattle Opera’s matinee performance of Cinderella (La Cenerentola)—almost 200 years after it premiered at Teatro Valle, Rome, 25 January 1817.

The prince wins Cinderella in Seattle Opera’s La Cenerentola, with sets and costumes designed by Joan Guillén - Photo © Elise Bakketun

Prince Ramiro wins Cinderella in Seattle Opera’s “La Cenerentola,” with sets and costumes designed by Joan Guillén – Photo © Elise Bakketun

It turns out that Rossini’s Cinderella is a romantic comedy of the bel canto (“Beautiful Singing”) kind. The story was altered by librettist Jacopo Ferretti both in characters and in plot, but yes, in the end, the prince does get the lovely, virtuous Cinderella as his bride. This takes two acts stretched over three hours (including a half-hour intermission). During the pursuit, there are lots of laughs and some extraordinary singing.

The basic premise of the opera, writes Spreight Jenkins, General Director of the Seattle Opera, is that the prince wants to marry someone who loves him for himself, not his position, power or wealth.  That romantic ideal still plays well in 2013 in Western society, does it not? Cinderella, called Angelina in this opera, is a forward-looking person who also will marry only for love but wants respect, too. She is not a male-dominated person, and she is not ambitious to become a princess. She stands up for herself, knows what she wants, and wins it fair and square on her terms—her man must be willing to make an effort to win her. This idea of feminity is still modern and plays well in 2013 in America and elsewhere, does it not? Jenkins writes in Encore, “There’s a lot of humor, but we see in Angelina a far more recognizable and believable young woman than many created in the nineteenth century. She is generous when she wins, and altogether she is a really charming person who might fit very well into the twenty-first century.”

Here’s what the bel canto style meant when it was dominant from the 18th century until about 1840, according to the experts at Wikipedia:

  • an impeccable legato production throughout the singer’s (seamless) range
  • the use of a light tone in the higher registers
  • an agile, flexible technique capable of dispatching ornate embellishments
  • the ability to execute fast, accurate divisions
  • the avoidance of aspirates and eschewing a loose vibrato
  • a pleasing, well-focused timbre
  • a clean attack
  • limpid diction
  • graceful phrasing rooted in a complete mastery of breath control

    Alidoro (Arthur Woodleyj), tutor to Prince Ramiro, has other plans for Cinderella - Photo by Alan Alabastro.

    Alidoro (Arthur Woodleyj), tutor to Prince Ramiro, has other plans for Cinderella – Photo by Alan Alabastro.

The music was written to show off the exceptional quality of the singers’ voices. I especially enjoyed the various ensembles. The precision of the attacks, phrasing, and breath control were remarkable and often, as intended, funny! I imagine it would be quite challenging and possibly exhausting to sing for so long in that style. Among the voices I enjoyed the most were those of Angelina (Cinderella), mezzo-soprano; Alidoro, bass; Dandini, baritone; and Don Magnifico, bass.

Courtesy of Seattle Symphony & Opera Players' Organization

Courtesy of Seattle Symphony & Opera Players’ Organization

I enjoyed listening to the orchestra, too, hearing and watching how the music from the pit matched the action on stage. It’s great fun to play trumpet in the orchestra of a musical or an opera. I did both long ago on the college level—but now I’m just a happy spectator. I wonder if any of my trumpet students will ever have that wonderful experience. I hope so. That would please me, as did this .  😉  Please click on any photo to enlarge it:

Posted in Professional Concerts | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

9th Grader’s Jazz Solo–“He Nailed It!”

Posted by glennled on November 21, 2009

Today I went to the Northshore Performing Arts Center (NPAC) in Bothell to hear my 9th grade trumpet student play with his school group in the “Northshore Jazz Festival.” I sat next to his Dad at the end of the row of seats occupied by their family, including his Mom, siblings, and one set of grandparents.

There were 25 jazz ensembles and bands on the program, some traveling from far away places such as Wenatchee, Langley (on Whidbey Island), Bremerton, Arlington, Monroe, and Snoqualmie. They played from 8 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Each group played three pieces. During lunch, the jazz ensemble from Central Washington University, Ellensburg, WA, played a concert. The festival was not a contest. It was a show. Each group got to show how well they’re playing at this stage of the school year, and a group of professional musicians, instructors and conductors critiqued each band. They made written notes and recorded audio comments, as feedback for the band directors and members to consider later.

I started snapping photos with my Blackberry phone camera when my student’s group appeared on stage. They sounded good and were well-rehearsed. Several key players seem to form the core of the group. My student is lead trumpeter. In the middle of the second piece, he improvised a solo! Afterwards, his Dad proudly said to me, “He nailed it!” I gave him thumbs up and a broad smile. Those lessons are paying off. Way to go, man!

Posted in Festivals & Competitions | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

 
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