ETW recap: Ewazen round 2

For those of you have have been to the Eastern Trombone Workshop, you know what a fantastic resource it is for trombonists of all walks: students, teachers, professional players, and enthusiasts.  It’s been around for the better part of 25 years, and it is truly amazing how much the coordinators manage to pack into 3 1/2 days.  If you’ve never been to one, I recommend checking it out.  Just make sure you have a few days to “Trombone Detox” after it’s over!  My congratulations and humble thanks to Chris Branagan and Sam Woodhead of the U.S. Army Band “Pershing’s Own”, as well as their colleagues for pulling off another smash-hit festival.

The last time I attended an ETW was in my student days, both with my college trombone choir, and as a competitor in one of the solo competitions.  This year, I had the distinct pleasure of being invited as a performer, with my colleagues Jonathan and Jeff from the BPO.  We were invited to perform our new Triple Concerto by Eric Ewazen, which also happened to be the first performance of this piece since the premiere in Buffalo back in November 2012.  Having let the piece sit for the better part of 4 months (depends which one of us you ask, I guess) was tremendously beneficial, as when we picked it up again, all the notes were still there, but with a renewed energy and slightly changed perspective.  In my opinion, we were thinking more large-scale, rather than phrase-by-phrase.  Many of the concepts that we were just scratching the surface at back in November had time to percolate and become part of our approach both as individuals and as an ensemble.  It is exciting to me that every time we pull this piece out, something new will take shape and it will continue to grow.

We received many compliments on our performance, and fortunately Eric Ewazen was able to attend and receive the recognition he so widely deserves for what he claims to be his largest work to date.  Perhaps the most touching comment we received came via email the day after our performance, from a friend who doesn’t play the trombone, nor is a professional musician:

“While we didn’t realize that we would find ourselves with the trombones literally “in your face” like that [he was seated 10 feet in front of us], it did provide one other interesting thing to see, which is the obvious camaraderie between the three of you.  Your sounds blended perfectly, and that has to be the result of the esprit de corps you folks clearly have between you.  So the performance was a visual as well as aural delight.”
This compliment really fills me with pride as well as humility; as regardless of fracked notes, the random flat pitch, or whatever imperfections live performance graces upon us, the whole reason for the concerto being written shone through bright as day.  I’ll take that as a victory in a performance world that often puts more weight on accuracy and execution than it does on making statements and moving the listener.  But, I’d still be happy to hit more of the right notes any day 😉
Another exciting tidbit is that we have been contracted to perform the concerto again this coming June, under the baton of JoAnn Falletta with the Interlochen World Youth Orchestra.  More information will be available soon, but if you’re in Michigan on June 30, come on up to Interlochen and see what the ‘buzz’ is about.  (Did I go to far with that one?!)