August 9, 2004 - COMMENTARY
I have just returned home from two weeks in Japan where I was teaching and doing work with YAMAHA on the development of a new bass trombone.
Shown to the left is my class from the 10th Hamamatsu (Japan) International Wind Instrument Academy and Festival. I had participated in the first three of these
annual events in Hamamatsu, which is jointly sponsored by the City of Hamamatsu, the Okura ACT City Hotel and YAMAHA. As in past years, I had a class of seven
students (six bass trombone, 1 tenor trombone) with whom I worked all week. This year's class was the best I'd ever had; the players ranged from students to professional players and the week was a most
enjoyable one. Nozomi Kasano, a fourth year student in college in Nagoya, was selected by audition to represent the class at the student gala concert; she performed
Bozza's "New Orleans." Our accompanist, Maki Asoh, was splendid and I could not have asked to be a part of a better organized and more enjoyable Academy.
Other faculty included Akira Kuwata (Principal trombone of the Yomouri Symphony Orchestra), Mark Gould and Robert Sullivan, trumpets, Tsutomu
Maruyama, horn and Gene Pokorny, tuba (of the Chicago Symphony) - with these players we performed the Ingolf Dahl "Music for Brass Instruments" on the
opening faculty concert.
Later in the week I gave a masterclass at the Dolce Music Shop in Osaka and also gave an interview to the Japanese wind instrument magazine, PIPERS where I
discussed the role historical brasses have played in my musical life.
The Academy was a great event, but equally enjoyable was time I spent working with YAMAHA on several projects. YAMAHA trombone designer Yoshihiro
Takahashi (shown at left) and I have been discussing improvements to the YBL-622 bass trombone I currently play. Mr. Takahashi had implemented several key
changes in the horn which I tested and we worked on together while I was at the YAMAHA factory in Hamamatsu. The result will be the release of a new model that
will be a significant upgrade from the 622, containing all of the excellent features of that instrument but with added enhancements about which I am very
excited. This new model will be called the YBL-822G; no release date has been set at this time. I remain very impressed with YAMAHA's commitment to
improve their instruments and have been very pleased to work with them on this new design.
While at the factory I also made a video on how trombones are made. YAMAHA has previously made videos on the making of trumpets and saxophones so I was
pleased when they asked me to help with this project. It was fascinating to go through the factory and observe all of the processes of how trombones are put
together and the video will be released later this year as part of a DVD including all three videos on the making of instruments.
April 17, 2004 - COMMENTARY
One of the great pleasures of my musical life is to serve as music director of the
New England Brass Band. This 30 piece brass and percussion ensemble meets
for rehearsal weekly in Wilmington, Massachusetts (north of Boston) and presents 6-10 concerts in the Boston area each year. This all-volunteer group
is full of hardworking players who enjoy making music at a high level. Since I became music director of the NEBB in 1998, we have enjoyed an ever increasing
variety of concerts and activities as well as steady growth and mprovement in the musical product we present to our audiences.
The North American Brass Band Association sponsors an annual championship contest for brass bands. Contesting
has been part of the brass band movement for nearly 150 years and the NEBB has had the opportunity to go to three of the NABBA contests - 2001 in Washington, D.C.;
2003 in Little Rock, Arkansas; and 2004 in Charleston, West Virginia. Going to these contests has been a huge part of the growth of the NEBB. For us, the important
thing about attending such an event is the interaction we all have with other bands and players as we learn more about our playing in the process. Also, we work
hard to present our 30 minute contest program at the highest level we can, burnishing all of the details of our music to as fine a point as we can make. This
crucible has proven to be a very enjoyable process for the band and today, the NEBB's hard work was rewarded with a banner and a trophy for FIRST PLACE
in the "Challenge" section of the NABBA XXII Championship. What a thrill it was to have the band rewarded for their hard work in this way! I offer my congratulations
once again to the fine members of the NEBB (including principal trombonist Brad Kerns who won 2nd place in the adult low brass technical solo competition, E flat
bass player Mark Fabulich who won 2nd place in the adult low brass slow melody solo competition, and the NEBB percussion section - Dora Kastanas,
Rick Castillo and Stephen Lee for placing 3rd in the adult percussion ensemble competition) for their success at NABBA as we look forward to our continued collaboration together.
I am very proud of all of you!