What's new at yeodoug.com in 2015?
This page contains a listing of most significant updates to yeodoug.com in 2014. I also use this page to comment on a recent activity or observation I think might of interest to readers.
Click on a year below to read about what was new at yeodoug.com at that time...
May 4, 2015 - COMMENTARY
When I lived in Boston I had a long and very fruitful relationship with the Museum of Fine Arts. I did a great deal of research in their collection of Musical Instruments and gave many demonstrations on trombones, serpent, ophicleide and buccin. I also made recordings on several of the Museum's musical instruments for their gallery audio guide and the ebook version of the book about the collection, "Musical Instruments" by Darcy Kuronen.
Since moving to Arizona I have not had time to work much at the Phoenix Musical Instrument Museum but I always enjoy getting there when I have a chance to visit the collection or do a little work and research. My wife and I went to the MIM today and took the time to visit the European instruments gallery where I saw something familar: a serpent player.
Well, the player turned out to be me because the MIM has recently added a short clip from my DVD, Approaching the Serpent: An Historical and Pedagogical Overview, to their video guide. While many museums have audio guides - and for a musical instrument gallery, an audio guide adds measurably to the experience of visitors - the MIM has taken the audio guide a step further, by having a video guide. Visitors are given a headset and control box and as they walk through the galleries, whenever they get in close proximity to a video screen - and nearly every exhibit in the museum has one - one hears what is showing on the video screen. These videos are short - about 30 seconds - samples of the playing of various instruments in each instillation.
The "England" installation has an English military serpent and the MIM decided to use a segment from my DVD where I played "Oh, No! We Never Mention Her" from an early 19th century English serpent method book. It was a treat to see how the video integrated so nicely into the exhibit, and to find myself on the screen right after a video clip of the great cellist, Jacqueline du Pre, playing a bit of the Elgar "Cello Concerto."
And speaking of the MIM, I might as well mention a recital I will be giving there on February 24, 2016 with my ASU horn professor colleague, John Ericson. John and I are planning a program we have titled, "Stuck in the Nineteenth Century." We will be playing nineteenth century music on nineteenth century instruments including natural and early valve horn, serpent, ophicleide, buccin and six-valve trombone. The MIM asked us for a photo to publicize the concert and one of my ASU graduate teaching assistants, Tim Hutchens, took the photo above (right). We hope our recital will be interesting and thought-provoking as we travel back in time to bring back to life instruments that are mostly known as parts of the evolutionary chain that brought us our modern brass instruments. There is unique beauty to these old instruments and I'd love to see you at our recital, or at very least, paying a visit to the Phoenix MIM. There is a lot there to enjoy.
March 9, 2015 - COMMENTARY
Along with my long career as a trombonist I have enjoyed a parallel musical life as a performer on early brass instruments; these include serpent, sackbut, buccin (dragon belled trombone) and ophicleide. The story of my involvement with these instruments - that has led to many performances, recordings, videos, museum audio guides and articles - is told elsewhere on my website. But suffice to say my forays into the world of early music have brought me great pleasure as an artist, bringing me into contact with new music, players and conductors, and a style of playing that is very different that that which I use when I play in a modern symphony orchestra.
For many years I have been a member of Boston's Handel and Haydn Society, an early music group with which I have played serpent and sackbut on several occasions. Last year I received a call from the Society's personnel manager, Jesse Levine (who also plays natural trumpet in the group), asking if I could come to Boston and play ophicleide in performances of Mendelssohn's oratoria, "Elijah" in Symphony Hall. Yes.
I had not been back to Boston since my last concert there as a member of the Boston Symphony in May 2012. Those concerts were of Beethoven's Symphony 9 conducted by Bernard Haitink; it was there I took my final bow in the Hall (see photos and commentary about that important event of my life by looking at the entry for May 5, 2012 in my What's New at yeodoug.com in 2012). The opportunity to go back to Boston - not as a member of the Boston Symphony but with my other hat as early music artist on my head - was irrestible and I had the great joy of working with Handel and Haydn colleagues in performances of one of the greatest pieces of music ever written, Felix Mendelssohn's "Elijah."
While not an opera, Mendelssohn's treatment of the Biblical story of "Elijah" is highly dramatic. Scenes such as the episode with the priests of Baal are among the most riviting in all of music. The conductor of the performances was Grant Llewellyn (photo, right), former music director of the Handel and Haydn Society from 2001-2006 (it was Grant who hired me into the orchestra many years ago); he had also been an assistant conductor with the Boston Symphony when I was a member of the BSO. It was especially nice to see and work with him again.
The photo above, at left shows our brass section for the "Elijah" performances: (left to right) Jesse Levine, trumpet; Robert Couture, alto trombone; Hans Bohn, tenor trombone; Brian Kay, g bass trombone; Paul Perfetti, trumpet (kneeling); Gary DiPerna, timpani; Douglas Yeo, ophicleide; Eisabeth Axtell, horn 2; John Aubrey, horn 4; Todd Williams, horn 1; John Boden, horn 3. All are superb musicians, and it was a special joy to have both my wife, Pat, and several friends from Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Concord, Massachuetts (where we had attended worship for many years when we were in Boston) at the concerts last week. I also managed to be back in Boston during what turned out to be the winter with the highest snowfall in history. Never did I dream I would return to Boston in the snow. As things turned out, I was witness to an epic amount of snow, and was reminded once again of one of the reasons why we were very happy to move to Arizona. When people ask me why I moved to Arizona, I point them to this page on my website: CLICK HERE.
A picture tells a thousand words.
February 15, 2015 - COMMENTARY
My work as Professor of Trombone at Arizona State University brings with it opportunities to collaborate with both faculty and students. Last year I gave a joint recital at ASU with my horn professor colleague, Dr. John Ericson; we were also joined by my tuba professor colleague, Dr. Deanna Swoboda. I collaborate with my trombone students as conductor of the ASU Desert Bones Trombone Choir and we play duets together in every trombone lesson.
Earlier this week I was provided an opportunity for a unique collaboration in a recital that brought together both faculty and students at the ASU School of Music. Yesterday we held auditions at ASU for students applying for admission this fall. Our School of Music decided to put together a concert on Friday night before the auditions to showcase our faculty and students. I was interested in participating in this concert and found a unique way to do so.
To know the story requires going back to August 31, 2014 when our ASU Desert Bones Trombone Choir performed the National Anthem at an Arizona Diamondbacks/Colorado Rockies baseball game at Chase Field in Phoenix. We sold tickets to the game and many ASU students and faculty came to support us and enjoy the game. One of those in attendance was ASU voice faculty member Gordon Hawkins. I had known of Gordon before I came to ASU as I had seen him sing the role of Alberich in Richard Wagner's "Ring Cycle" when it was performed by San Francisco Opera in 2011. When Gordon came to the baseball game, I learned he had played baseball before he turned to a singing career (he scored the Diamondbacks game in his program - that has always been a mystery to me) and when the seventh inning stretch came, I heard this stentorian voice behind me singing "God Bless America." It was Gordon. I knew right there that we had to find a time to do something together.
That time came a few days ago when I organized a performance of Heinrich Schutz's motet, "Fili mi Absalon." Written for baritone solo with four trombones and organ, it is a crushingly beautiful piece that is, in my mind, one of the finest pieces ever composed for trombones. To accompany Gordon's singing I enlisted Dr. Kimberly Marshall, ASU's organ professor, and three of my students to play trombone along with me: Mike Giuliani and Tim Hutchens (alto trombone), and Emmy Rozanski (tenor trombone). This was a very good collaboration. A few days before the performance we gave a rehearsal in our weekly trombone studio class so all of my students could see us working together up close. The concert was a huge success and I was truly blessed by the performance. Gordon's singing is a tremendous model to both me and my students of superb breath control and presentation, and it was a reminder once again that music making can bring together people who are very different and are in different seasons of life to collaborate in memorable ways.
February 12, 2015 - COMMENTARY
I graduated with my Bachelor of Music degree in 1976 from Wheaton College Conservatory of Music in Wheaton, Illinois. Among my best and closest friends at that time was Tim Salzman, music education major who I sat next to in band and orchestra - he played tuba - and with whom I collaborated on my senior recital - he played piano and harpsichord. Tim and I became such close friends we would call each other, "My brother from another mother." There was just something about how Tim and I clicked when we talked about music, our Christian faith and life.
After graduation our paths took us in different directions. I went on to pursue my career as an orchestral trombonist via being a free lance player in New York City and a high school band director in New Jersey. Tim went on to be the conductor of the University of Washington Wind Ensemble via work as a high school band director and director of bands at Montana State University in Bozeman, Montana. But through the years of our working to achieve our goals we kept in touch, seeing each other as much as we could. Over the years I've been a guest artist at University of Washington, playing with Tim's wind ensemble on one occasion and giving a masterclass on some other visits. My wife and I have vacationed in Seattle and I've twice been part of the Northwest Brass Band Festival in Bellevue, Washington, as both guest conductor and guest soloist.
Last year Tim asked if I would be willing to be a clinician at the 27th Pacific Northwest Band Festival, hosted annually by University of Washington School of Music. The Festival features junior high and high school bands from the area who perform a short program and then work with one of several clinicians who also speak comments into a microphone while the bands are playing. I was very happy to agree to do this, especially since I would be working alongside some other terrific conductors: Frank Battisti (retired conductor of the New England Conservatory of Music Wind Ensemble), Rodney Dorsey (Unifersity of Oregon) and Colonel Timothy Holtan (U. S. Army Band, "Pershing's Own", Washington, D. C.). Tim asked if I would give two masterclasses at the Festival for the low brass players and I agreed. But he also asked if I would be willing to be soloist with his wind ensemble on the gala concert.
Yes, of course. But what to play? In a previous visit to University of Washington, I had played two pieces that had been written for me, Vaclav Nelhybel's "Concerto for Bass Trombone" and Lawrence Wolfe's "Wildfire." The repertoire for bass trombone solo with wind band is not very extensive and I did not want to play either something I had played there before or a collection of smaller pieces. For many years there was a piece I had been thinking of playing but just could not decide to do: Daniel Schnyder's "Concerto subZERO." I first heard "subZERO" played by a student of mine at New England Conservatory of music, Wei Wang, who is an extraordinarily gifted young player who now plays bass trombone in the orchestra for the National Performing Arts Center in Beijing, China. Written for bass trombonist David Taylor, "subZERO" is fiendishly difficult. I honestly didn't know if I could play it.
But, as I told Tim, with both of us in the year of our 60th birthday, it was now or never, "Death or Glory," and time to take on this big challenge. So with one of my best friends on the podium, I was so happy to perform "subZERO" with the University of Washington wind ensemble (supplemented with a string quartet). The performance wasa huge success and I could not have been happier with the collaboration I had with Tim and the group. We are already talking about when we can do something like this again. This happy week in Seattle was a nice reminder of the value of long held friendships. I thank God for a friend like Tim Salzman, "My brother from another mother."
February 3, 2015 - COMMENTARY
Super Bowl XLIX. Patriots. Seahawks. Epic.
The annual National Football League Super Bowl is one of the most widely anticipated sporting events in the world. The broadcast of the game is always rated among the most watched programs in television history and while it is a misnomer to call the Super Bowl a "world championship" - all of the NFL teams are based in the United States - it is the championship game of the most popular sport in the USA and an event that is talked about for weeks before. And after.
As I mentioned in my post of January 26, 2015 (below), my wife and I have been New England Patriots football fans for decades. Our many years in Boston led us to Gillette Stadium to watch many games and we celebrated along with all of Boston the three Super Bowl victories the Patriots had in 2002, 2004 and 2005. Two more Super Bowl appearances followed that remarkable run of victories but they resulted in losses. So as the 2014 NFL season played out toward its conclusion, we began to see things align for the Patriots to once more be in the big game. And this time the game was being played in Airzona, at University of Phoenix Stadium, just 25 minutes from our home.
When I attended Super Bowl XXXVI in 2002 it was one of the most thrilling events of my life. It is not possible to explain the feeling of watching a team you support win a championship game. But my wife, Pat, was not with me to share that moment since I was at Super Bowl XXXVI as a member of the Boston Pops Orchestra, playing the pregame show for the game. I hoped that someday, we would have a chance to go to a Super Bowl together.
When we knew that the Patriots would be in Super Bowl XLIX, many friends started asking us, "Are you going to the game?" Of course we WANTED to go. But how? We would not pay a ridiculous amount of money for a ticket. Super Bowl tickets are highly prized and the secondary market for a ticket reached absurd proportions, with a ticket in the upper deck corner of the stadium going for over $10,000. Uh, no. We would not pay that. But through a serendipitous series of events, a good friend in Boston had two extra tickets to the game and she gave them to us. Gave them to us. Thank you, dear friend! Just the day before the Super Bowl I had two tickets in my hand to see the New England Patriots play the Seattle Seahawks. We were going to the Super Bowl! Not only that, the tickets we had were in what proved to be a most remarkable location - in row 5, very close to the field, on the goal line. More on that goal line later...
The scene at University of Phoenix Stadium was unlike anything I had ever seen. The Seattle Seahawks were the defending Super Bowl champions. The Seahawks come to University of Phoenix Stadium every year to play the Arizona Cardinals - the two teams are in the same division. And the Seahawks fans travel with their team. It was clear that the fans at Super Bowl XLIX were heavily weighted toward the Seahawks. And they were loud. Loud. Pat and I were outfitted in Patriots gear of course - me wearing a jersey of Tedy Bruschi (one of the great Patriots players from their early run of Super Bowl victories) and the AFC Champions hat that I had worn to Super Bowl XXXVI and Pat in a Tom Brady jersey. Walking around the stadium in the hours before the game on an absolutely beautiful Arizona day filled us with a lot of emotions. Not only were we at the Super Bowl but it was in our home state. While we of course wanted the Patriots to win, we felt such pride for Arizona to be the host of what turned out to be one of the best Super Bowl games in history.
Since we are Arizona Cardinals season ticket holders we are very familiar with University of Phoenix Stadium. When we got into the Stadium, we saw it had undergone an extreme makeover. It was decorated in purple and orange, the colors of Super Bowl XLIX, and logos of the Patriots and Seahhawks and photos of their players were all around. The jumbotron had a fantastic image that showed the Super Bowl logo over an image of Arizona's iconic canyons. Even though we were in the Stadium over an hour before the game, we found our seats and just took in the whole experience. In the photo above (right) you can see us standing at our seats; in the background you can see the television set for game commentators. Jim Nance is there on camera.
The teams came out for warmups and things began to get noisy, and after a pregame show (that included a cameo by the Arizona State University Sun Devil Marching Band) and the National Anthem, the game got under way.
Our seats for Arizona Cardinals games are on the 50 yard line in the upper deck of the stadium. We love our seats since you get a full view of the field and can see all plays unfold before your eyes. Since we were given the tickets to the Super Bowl we didn't get to choose our seat location. When we found we were in row 5 and right at a goal line we knew we would be seeing a game like we had never seen one before. We were at the end zone of the Seattle Seahawks - their logo was painted in the end zone - and we were on the New England Patriots side of the field. We got to see two of the Patriots' touchdowns happen right in front of us, catches by Brandon LaFell Rob Gronkowski.
Now for a small aside...
After the Super Bowl was over - if you don't know by now, here's the spoiler alert - the Patriots won - we got a copy of Sports Illustrated that had a full report and photos of the game. As I was looking through it I saw a photo of Rob Gronkowski catching his touchdown pass from Tom Brady. And as I looked at it closely I realized that you could see Pat and me in the photo (left). This photo shows really well exactly where we were sitting. You can see us inside the red circle, Pat with her white jersey and blue had and me in blue jersey and white hat. Click HERE for a look at a larger view of this photo. How fun was THAT, to see us in a photo in Sports Illustrated at the moment when a Patriots touchdown was scored!
The game went back and forth, with neither team scoring in the first quarter, both teams scoring 14 points in the second quarter and the Seahawks taking a 10 point lead in the third quarter. At that point the Patriots fans - including us - did not have a good feeling about the game. With only 15 minutes left in the game, the Patriots were in a big hole. Yet Tom Brady led the Patriots to score two touchdowns and take a 4 point lead with just two minutes left in the game.
What happened in those two minutes was nothing short of astounding. The Seahawks moved down the field and with only 20 seconds left in the game seemed poised to score the game-winning touchdown. On the Patriots' one yard line, quarterback Russell Sherman inexplicably dropped back to pass and his throw was intercepted by Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler. The game was all but over - the Patriots would win! Now, you might ask: "Why, if you were sitting on the goal line where that amazing play happened, don't you have a photo of it?" Good question! And the answer is simple: the last thing I wanted on my phone was a photo of the Seahawks scoring their winning touchdown so I put down my camera and was screaming my head off as the play unfolded. But what an ending to the game!
The Patriots had the ball for three short plays and the game was over. The scoreboard flashed the final score and the outcome - the Patriots had won. Confetti began to fall from high above and now it was the turn of the Patriots fans to be noisy. And we were. Just as we thought the Patriots were headed for defeat they snatched a victory. The feeling was like nothing else we had ever experienced.
We lingered for a long time after the game, to see the presentation of the Vince Lombardi Trophy to the Patriots, and take in the whole scene. Tom Brady was named the Most Valuable Player of the Game (although he was to give the truck he was awarded to Malcolm Butler, a classy gesture). As we left the Stadium into the cool Arizona night, we knew we had been a part of one of the most exciting games in Super Bowl history, one that would be talked about for years. Why did Seahawks coach Pete Carroll decide to throw the ball when he was on the one yard line rather than do a running play? Pundits and commentators - and fans like us - still ask the question. The way the score of the game went back and forth, and how the Patriots scored two touchdowns in the final quarter heightened the excitement throughout combined to make this Super Bowl exciting in ways that people will be talking about for a long, long time. We had been a part of something remarkable, special, memorable. Wow.
January 26, 2015 - COMMENTARY
The National Football League season is winding down and heading to the Super Bowl in a week. Glendale, Arizona is the host of Super Bowl XLIX this year; it will be played in University of Phoenix Stadium, the home of the Arizona Cardinals.
My wife, Pat, and I have enjoyed football for as long as we can remember. While we were in Boston we attended many New England Patriots games and I attended Super Bow XXXVI in New Orleans in 2002 as a member of the Boston Pops Orchestra. The Orchestra played the pre-game show and the National Anthem and Patriots owner Robert Kraft gave all of the members of the Orchestra a ticket to the game - we got to see the Patriots win their first Super Bowl, over the St. Louis Rams. Thrilling.
Since moving to Arizona we have been season ticket holders to both Arizona Cardinals football and Arizona State University Sun Devil football. There is something about being in a stadium with thousands of other people that is uniquely exciting. While we lived in Boston we got to see many championship games and see our home town team lift the championship trophy - whether the Patriots, Boston Red Sox, Boston Celtics or Boston Bruins. We lived in Boston during an exciting time for sports, a time I call "the good old days" because it will not always be so. Teams go up and down in cycles - there are no real dynasties in sports any more (good thing) but it was nice living in a place where the sports teams were usually competitive and for many years came out on top.
With the Phoenix area hosting the Super Bowl, there was a bonus this year: University of Phoenix Stadium also hosted the annual NFL Pro Bowl, a game that features the best players in the League shedding their regular team uniform and playing in two teams. It's never much of a game - players take pains not to get hurt and players from the two teams that will be in the Super Bowl, this year being the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks - are not represented. Most years we don't even watch the Pro Bowl. But since it was literally in our back yard - University of Phoenix is only about a 25 minute drive from our home - we thought we'd go and enjoy the fun. We're glad we did.
I couldn't count the number of football games we have attended. But this was one of the most unique we've ever been to. That's because when we go to a game, everyone is dressed in gear - shirts, hats, etc - for the two teams that are facing off. But for the pro Bowl, EVERY team in the NFL is represented, so it was fun to see people wearing gear of all teams in the League. Because the Patriots were going to be playing in the Super Bowl next week, we wore Patriots gear. There was no home field advantage. People were there just to support football as a sport and the players from their teams that were playing. Since we are Arizona Cardinals season ticket holders, we were able to sit in our regular seats that we have for Cardinals games, on the 50 yard line. We love our seats! Being up high we can see every play unfold; we have a complete view of the field. And not only for the game itself. The National Anthem at the Pro Bowl employed one of the most impressive traditions I've seen at a football game - an American flag that covers the entire field. That is a big flag! Hundreds of people are involved in getting the flag on the field and holding it. And when we sing the words, "An long may that star-spangled banner yet wave," each person holding the flag begins to wave it up and down - an impressive sight.
I don't even remember the outcome of the game. The score didn't matter. It was just fun to be in the stadium and enjoy football, knowing that next week we were going to see the Super Bowl with our New England Patriots on the field. More on that next week!
January 19, 2015 - COMMENTARY
This year will be full of a great many performing opportunities for me and things got off to a busy start with a trip to Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas, where I was a guest artist at the Big 12 Trombone Conference for several days. The Conference brought together students and teachers from many schools from around the country and featured recitals, masterclasses and presentations. The organizer of the event was James Decker, Texas Tech's trombone professor and a good friend through our mutual work with the International Trombone Association. This year's Conference had two main guest artists: myself and Alex Iles, the outstanding Los Angeles based classical.jazz/studio artist and faculty member at California Institute of the Arts and California State University-Northridge. The photo above (left) shows me with Jim and Alex.
I always enjoy opportunities to return to Texas where I have worked in many colleges and Universities over the years, including University of Texas (Austin and Arlington), Sam Houston State University, Lamar University, Texas Christian University, University of Houston, and Southern Methodist University among others. Texas Tech is in Lubbock, Texas, a part of Texas I had not previously visited so it was nice to get to a place that was new to me.
Alex Iles and I had not met before but very much like my recent trip to TCU where I was a guest artist along with Harry Watters, Alex and I got along very well from the start. As we were planning the program for the recital we shared on the Saturday night gala concert, I was very happy that Alex asked if we could play several of the duets I had arranged for tenor and bass trombones from the Piano Preludes op. 34 of Dmitri Shostakovich. I had played these arrangements with my Boston Symphony Orchestra colleague Ronald Barron and Ron and I subsequently recorded them on his CD, "In the Family" and G. Schirmer published them. We spent some time together rehearsing the duets as soon as we each got off our respective planes and also enjoyed a fine collaboration with pianost Becca Zeisler who had come to TTU a few years earlier from Boston.
Alex and I both gave masterclasses; in my class I worked with several talented students who played both solos and orchestra excerpts. One of the big events of the weekend was the recital Alex and I shared. I chose to play three pieces that have long been associated with me: Alexi Lebedev's "Concerto No. 1", Jan Sandstrom "Song for Lotta" and Robert Schuman's beautiful song of devotion to his wife, "Widmung." The finale of the concert was very special. Each year, Texas Tech has a composition contest associated with the Conference. This year's competition was for a work for tenor and bass trombone solo with trombone choir accompaniment. A committee at TTU narrowed the field to three entries and those entries were then sent to Alex and me to make the final decision. We came together on the same piece independently and it was very nice to play Chris Garcia's "Duo Concerto" at the concert. The composer was there and both Alex and I enjoyed working with him to try to give him all that he had asked from us in the piece. My hat is off to Texas Tech University for sponsoring this composition contest - what a great way to encourage young composers and also get new pieces for tormbone into the repertoire. Our recital concluded with Scott Slutter's superb arrangement of the finale of Leonard Bernstein's musical, "Candide," "Make our Garden Grow" arranged for tenor and bass trombone solo with trombone ensemble.
In addition to masterclasses and concerts, there were also exhibits by publishers, music stores and trombone makers that made Texas Tech a destination for many trombonists during the weekend. I thoroughly enjoyed my trip to Lubbock and want to thank Jim Decker for inviting me to interact with students and teachers on his campus. This was a great way for me to start the year - much more is to come!