Archive Tubafest 2008
Fredericton International TubaFest 2008 saw Sotto Voce Quartet interacting with players from throughout the Maritime Provinces, New England States, Ontario and Quebec in Memorial Hall on the University of New Brunswick campus for a memorable two days. The Quartet, after numerous travel delays, managed to get to Fredericton Thursday morning just in time to put on a workshop for students at George Street Middle School.
The students were enthralled with the show. Some have since asked if it would be possible to get some of those “old instruments” (sousaphones) off the cabinet and back into use. In the afternoon the quartet moved to Fredericton High School where they worked with the bass section of the band.
Friday morning Mike Forbes started off the festival with a workout – get the body working and air flowing so you can play. Next Mark Carlson took all participants through the first reading of The Fredericton Suite – a piece composed for our fifth anniversary by Bart Cummings. We then started working on pieces that the quartet had brought from their files. Following a brief break we divided into two groups for master classes. Richard Riding performed in a master class lead by Mike and Demondrae Thurman. They worked on developing full tone in the low register and use of rubato. Nat MacIntosh and Mark lead another master class with Bill McIver and Jon Hall.
Friday lunch was a special event as we were joined by John and Kathy Tidswell of Stereo Systems Ltd. (major sponsors of Fredericton International TubaFest), and John and Maggie MacLaughlin – presidents of the University of New Brunswick and Fredericton Arts Alliance.
After lunch Demondrae lead a clinic on developing musical thought “Quiche a la musicality”. He suggested that we should listen to recordings of the pieces we were going to play and analyze what we like or dislike about how they are played and then develop our own interpretation of the music. The large ensemble then ran through a few more numbers with Nat and Demondrae. This was followed by Nat’s Nat clinic on enjoying your instrument. He encouraged us to go beyond the written page: play by ear, improvise, invent different sounds. Following this Mark and Demondrae had a master class with Elliot Woodbury.
Following dinner there was a brief concert featuring the Antique Brass, the hosting Quartet playing the Largo From The New World (Dvorak/Halferty) and English Country Gardens (Traditional/Werden). Richard Riding and Katherine Moller then played Scot Joplin’s The Nonpareil arranged for tuba and violin by Art Frackenphol. The concert finished with Sotto Voce playing numbers from Refractions, their most recent CD, and ending with a Billy Tell Overture (Rossini/Forbes).
We then divided into two small ensembles to work on different pieces with Demondrae and Nat taking one group and Mike and Mark the other.
Saturday Mike got us all on our feet and warmed up for another day of playing. This lead to actually rehearsing numbers for the evening concert. First the large ensemble and then more intensive coaching in the small ensembles. After lunch, Mark had a clinic on “the practicing workbench.” He suggested analyzing the music to identify specific problems and then find ways to solve them.
Is the music too fast, hard, high or low? Make is easier: slow it down, strip out ornamentation, play it down or up an octave. Once it is mastered, make it harder: change rhythms, add different ornaments, play in different keys.
The small ensembles then had a final rehearsal for the evening concert. Mike followed with an open ended clinic on anything you wanted to know about performing: stage presence, performance anxiety, how to make money with music. This was followed by a rehearsal of the large ensemble. We then broke for private lessons.
The evening concert, open to the public, was dedicated to John Griffiths. John had been a clinician at 3 Fredericton International TubaFests and had been inspirational in getting the full thing started. Lange Nagels and Jean Sutherland joined us for the evening concert. They were the first clinicians at TubaFest and were personal friends with John.
They performed two numbers written in memory of John Griffiths: Tribute by Elizabeth Raum and Shamanic Journey by Barbara York.
Sotto Voce Quartet then finished the first half of the program with Consequences (Forbes), Moondance (Stevens), Loch Lomond (Vaughan Williams/Forbes), The Harmonious Blacksmith (Handel/Forbes) and Zomby Woof (Zappa/McIntosh).
The second half of the program featured the ensembles formed at TubaFest. The first ensemble played Pie Jesu from the “Requiem” (Faure/Forbes) conducted by Demondrae and Shades of Grey (Wilson) conducted by Nat. The second ensemble followed with For Children (Bartok/Forbes) conducted by Mark and Sing, Sing, Sing (Prima/Forbes) conducted by Mike.
Mark then lead all the participants and Sotto Voce in the World Primier of Barton Cummings’ Fredericton Suite written for this occasion. Demondrae then lead the group in the Lord’s Prayer (Malotte/Turman), Nat lead us in Ain’t Misbehavin’ (Waller/Forbes) and Mike lead a rendition of Ave Maria with solos by Mark, Demondrae and Nat. This was dedicated to John Griffiths. A fitting way to end a great weekend and tribute to a great Canadian tuba player.
Sunday morning half of the participants showed up at 8:00 to play through a few hymns arranged for low brass. The Quartet then showed up for the beginning of another busy day. They played at Christ Church Cathedral in the morning and then did a special Mother’s Day concert in Saint Andrews NB.
Monday morning Sotto Voce was invited to an Instrumental Music Class at Leo Hayes High School. They captivated the students with their playing and stories of how they got involved in music. They were still a hot topic the next day with the students in the String ensemble.
This great weekend was sponsored by grants from the City of Fredericton, New Brunswick/Quebec Cooperative Agreement, Music Stop, Assante Financial Group, Tony’s Music Box, Antique Brass, Bill’s Horn Shop, Stereo Systems Ltd., Yamaha Canada and two private donations. Roger Smith was the official photographer.