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The Trombone ForumCreation and PerformancePerformance(Moderator: BGuttman) Recital themes and repertoire
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sdjazz
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« on: Oct 06, 2017, 11:35PM »

I'm majoring in music education and trombone performance, and I am currently planning my senior recital in the spring. I need an hour's worth of music.
As of now, the only piece set in stone is the Creston Fantasy. It'll be my biggest challenge, and in an academic sense will probably be the centerpiece of my program.

Things that I'm considering:

1. Although tenor is my main, I actively double on bass trombone and euphonium, and I would like to include one or more of these on the program if at all possible. Of course, I'm keeping in mind that mixing any bass bone rep with the Creston could be risky...

2. An overarching theme that ties everything together. A rough idea that I had was "Journeys". This could be a journey through musical development (the Creston), a literal journey (for instance, the euphonium piece "A Walk in the Woods"), or maybe an emotional journey/journey through life (for me, the Ewazen sonata comes to mind).
...Mostly, I need a theme that the Creston fits into.  Don't know

3. A blend of "academic" vs stuff that I just want to play. As a trombone major, most euph rep kinda fits into the latter category. I am also open to playing transcriptions for either tenor/bass/euph.

Any thoughts or suggestions are welcome!
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« Reply #1 on: Oct 09, 2017, 06:21AM »

For a Journeys theme you could incorporate Mahler's Songs of a Wayfarer, which is not technically challenging, but is musically satisfying.

I've thought of a Diabolus in Musica theme that might include Fetter's Situation Update, Bernofsky's Devil's Dermish and Verhelst's The Devil's Waltz. Could also expand to goblins, demons, and other supernatural horrors, and include Schubert's Der Erlkonig (if you have a pianist that wouldn't hate you for it). I'm not as familiar with these, but for euphonium there's Devil's Duel by Peter Meechan and Devil's Tongue by Hugo Schmidt.

Also, anything that emphasizes the tritone could work in this theme, such as Debussy's Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune or Stojowski's Fantasy.
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Matt Hodgson
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« Reply #2 on: Oct 09, 2017, 07:38AM »

Is this a half hour recital or hour?

On mixing instrumentation imo it's pretty safe to mix trombone and euph but I wouldn't throw bass trombone into the mix, that's pretty risky.
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« Reply #3 on: Oct 09, 2017, 09:35AM »

Ideally, even for a "legit" recital, your theme should be "entertainment". This means structuring your recital in such a way so that it has high points and peaks as well as slower, more emotional moments. For a legit recital, this becomes increasingly difficult to do as the individual length of pieces increases. Sure, no one expects your recital to play out like a U2 concert. But theming your recital to be "Neo-Romantic trombone music of the mid 20th century" and only choosing pieces from that genre will produce a pretty flatline experience for the audience.

Some examples:

Any of the recital albums produced by Alessi clearly have had a HUGE amount of thought put into music choice and music order. Especially the "Return to Sorento" album. Contrast this to the BIS album "Solitary Trombone", which would be a very difficult program to sit through unless you specifically got to see Lindberg.

The album "Virtuoso Trombone" would have been an outstanding recital to see, however. From the first moment he gets you with something completely unexpected, takes you through some solid core rep pieces, and only after this point shows you something very outside the box with the Berio piece.

So, if you aren't Lindberg or Alessi, what do you do? You have a couple pieces you're great at, but where do you put them in your recital? What do you say, if anything, between pieces? How do you acknowledge the audience?

First of all, repertoire choice: Your opening piece must be your introduction to the audience and needs to grab their attention! Listen to the first track on "Criminal Trombone 1 1/2" or "The Virtuoso Trombone" or "The Burlesque Trombone". If you're at that recital, he's already got you. Don't start you recital by talking "Ah yes, in the, ah, early 20th century, blah blah blah." Honestly, even music professors don't care about that. It's not your job as a musician to educate the audience either. Start your recital with a short, exciting piece -- "this is who I am"

Then, after you acknowledge the audience and let them clap, that's when you talk. Again, not to educate anyone. Introduce yourself, introduce your pianist, tell the audience how excited you are for them to be hearing your music. Don't tell them the name of the next piece or who wrote it. Once you thanked them for showing up, just play it.

Piece two should be a core repertoire piece. Something that everyone would expect. It's not the time to bust out Sequenza V, or to play the random jazz tune you thought you'd throw into your recital. No, this is your slot to play Creston, or Sulek, or some other piece that tells a complete musical story. Again, acknowledge the applause at the end.

The goal is to build from your second piece towards a high point -- your most difficult piece -- either leading towards intermission or the middle of your program. Put the most exciting piece there, especially if there is an intermission. If possible, this piece should have a trashcan type ending that the audience undeniably understands as  Sing it! "THE END!!!". You will get lots of applause after a piece with a trashcan ending. Think Blue Bells of Scotland, Great Gate of Kiev, the final movement of Tbone Concerto, etc. That kind of ending. Sure, it's cliche. Definitely is. However, the non trombone playing members of your audience who don't care about trombone music like you do are dumb, even if they have a PhD. They like exciting pieces with trashcan endings. They will (predictably) eat up any and all attempts to throw entrainment at them.

Now, if there is intermission, this is great. Accept the applause graciously, and then walk off the stage. Let the hall manager announce intermission. If you did your job the audience will be like "oh man, how is he going to follow that up?" or "oh man, where did he go? I want to keep clapping at that trashcan ending!"

If it's the middle of the recital with no intermission, accept your applause graciously. This is now your chance to talk to the audience. Tell them how happy you are that they are there. Tell them where you came from. Tell them about how music brings everyone together. Tell them something funny about how your recital almost failed in the rehearsal stages. Whatever you do, do not say "erhmm, up next we have a piece by Johann Sebastian Bach. Bach was-, blah blah, etc". Resist the urge. In this case, with no intermission, after you have spoken briefly and earnestly with the audience, you have a chance to play something for yourself. Everything you played so far has been to entertain them (or so you tried to make it appear), now it's time to play something for yourself. This is where that cool jazz tune you worked up, or lyrical melodic euph solo (song for lotta?) goes. The audience will buy into it now.

If there was intermission, when you come back you need to build the energy back up, so you need another short intro piece, like what you started the show with. No talking. When you get your big applause you can continue the recital as shown above.

You can keep the energy level low at this point. Put your melodic and contrasting pieces here. Create a "moment". If you were Bobby McFerrin, your audience participation would happen here, but that is super risky. Play it cool. Then ramp it up for the finale. Your final piece should also have a trashcan ending. Accept your final applause graciously for a bit longer than you did in between pieces, and then confidently walk off stage.

Phew.

So, it's not so much about what pieces, as much as it's about managing energy levels in your show. And it takes almost no effort to incorporate the most basic techniques from live music shows into your legit style recital and make it 1000% better than that other recital that might have been played flawlessly but was still super awkward and boring.
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« Reply #4 on: Oct 09, 2017, 10:14AM »

Great Post! Good! Good!

This doesn't only apply to recitals, but can be easily adapted to quintet/quartet concerts, and even concert band concerts.

Thanks for sharing that.
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« Reply #5 on: Oct 09, 2017, 12:45PM »

Ditto on the thumbs-up for Harrison's response.

I'd just add that another way of adding interest to your recital is to make sure that you cover some repertoire from different eras and representing different national styles. A baroque piece, and something classical or from the early romantic period add variety to the sound for the audience. Also, rep. from different regions adds contrast - the Hindemith and the Martin are from about the same year or so, but the difference of the musical language of German Hindemith and the Swiss/French Martin provides a change in the sound/color palate. So much of the trombone solo literature is from the mid-20th century till now - change things up a bit, partly with the change of musical eras that I've suggested, but also with intensity. The fast. flashy stuff can get boring if it's in every piece you program. Look for things that are simple in their harmonic language to contrast with things that are more dissonant and adventurous.

With my University students, I always encourage them to vary their programs this way, both for the sake of their audience, and also for the sake of the panel that will be grading them. It's an important skill for a University student to show that they can adjust their approach to produce a convincing sound for different styles of music. The recital is an exam that in addition to grading the student's skills as a player are also grading his/her musicianship.

Adapting the sound of the accompaniment for a tune or two by using harpsichord or organ, or a brass ensemble of some sort is also a nice change of pace, and it's good to show some chamber music skills.

Have fun with the recital!

Jim Scott
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« Reply #6 on: Oct 09, 2017, 12:56PM »

one teacher I had said a recital can include:

an early piece like Bach or Telemann
a "meat and potatoes" like Creston or Ewazen
lyrical piece(s) like Rachmaninoff songs can be gorgeous
fun piece like Trombone Institute of Technology

maybe I'm missing one of the categories  :/

naturally, this isn't set in stone
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« Reply #7 on: Oct 12, 2017, 05:39PM »

These comments are great, thank you!

So I've now got a fairly solid program lined up. I still need an "exciting" introductory piece, for either tenor or bass:

First piece TBA - must be exciting and short in length, probably <5 minutes (tenor or bass)
A Walk in The Woods - Jiro Censhu (euphonium)
Fantasy - Paul Creston (tenor)
INTERMISSION
Ewazen Sonata - I can do either the bass or tenor sonata/concerto, on the opposite instrument of the recital opener
Czardas - Monti (euphonium)

Any thoughts?
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« Reply #8 on: Oct 13, 2017, 04:10AM »

I'd suggest something pretty easy.  A Fillmore Trombone Smear might be good.  I'm kinda partial to Shoutin' Liza Trombone (it's the piece that sounds a little like the Hallelujah Chorus in the opening, and got Fillmore the epithet "Hallelujah Trombone").  They are short, lively, and could set a nice tone (as long as you ignore the non-PC subtitles to the pieces).
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« Reply #9 on: Oct 13, 2017, 12:32PM »

For a Journeys theme you could incorporate Mahler's Songs of a Wayfarer, which is not technically challenging, but is musically satisfying.

Yes, this! Great piece to have on a recital and good opportunity to work on how you can emulate text with articulations. Much more musically interesting than a lot of the standard trombone rep that gets put on every single recital.

I have made a reduced orchestration of the 3rd and 4th songs to be able to do it with a chamber orchestra of 5 to 10 strings, 5 woodwinds, 4 brass, harp or piano and 1 percussionist. I'd be happy to share it with you if you want.



Suggestions of short piece that could be good openers and also contrasting to the rest of the program you have.

-Elizabeth Raum, concerto for bass trombone and strings, 3rd movement
-La Hieronyma, the earliest surviving original piece specifically for trombone.
-A Frescobaldi canzona for basso solo (in particular La Tromboncina and La Superba), they work fairly well on modern tenor or bass
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« Reply #10 on: Oct 13, 2017, 12:54PM »

I think Harrisons post is excellent and learning. I dont do much recitals but I bookmark that post for later. Even in a concert with other friends or musicians there is lot of points to have in mind when planning the concert.  Good!

Leif
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« Reply #11 on: Oct 13, 2017, 04:31PM »

And great post by Harrison - totally agree, although I'll add this : I don't think the problem in talking about the music is the talking itself; the problem is when the talking doesn't relate to what you play and why that piece is in your program. I.e. "Composer X was born in year Y and composed the piece in year Z blah blah blah" is boring as hell. But good public speakers don't give information, they give context and meaning.

Drawing the line that connects your pieces and pointing out how your baroque piece somehow relates to your contemporary piece for example, and highlighting the concept of the program... Then you are not reciting facts and mind-numbing information, you are instead creating a narrative, and that can really grab your audience's attention if done well.
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