For those of you who visit this website regularly you will perhaps have noticed that I haven't updated things for quite a while, and for that I sincerely apologise! If you follow my activities on facebook you will perhaps have seen more regular updates, and I'm sure you can appreciate that it's much easier to update a facebook page than a website... and if you didn't know that, you do now!
It's been a rather incredible few months of travelling and I really appreciate the encouragement and support that I received from so many of you, in particular euphonium enthusiasts.
Since the end of January I've been travelling virtually nonstop and frankly it was rather good to get away from the politics of brass band adjudication that seemed to havw hung around my neck for too long. I tried at the RNCM Seminar to put across what I thought were well argued points, many of them accepted by people and organisations around the world and that I thought would help to take the brass band movement forwards despite our clinging to traditions and the overwhelming apathy from most of its participants. Those that were present at the Seminar and who came with open minds seemed to fully appreciate the logic and common sense behind a criteria based adjudication system. Those that had closed minds (most of the ABBA representatives) clearly looked like they didn't want to be there and presented counter arguments that were weak and repetitive. The documents from the seminar are still available for download, here. Very recently I was an adjudicator at the North American Brass band championships held in Grand Rapids, Michigan USA. It was a most enjoyable event even though there was an air of disappointment I think that the numbers of entries were down. Maybe this part of Michigan is a little inaccessible for some bands and perhaps some financial strains under the current climate could also have been a factor. Nonetheless it was a highly enjoyable weekend and from an adjudication standpoint the live recordings of comments from the adjudicators to digital recording machines was a very interesting feature. I personally enjoyed this and I'd be keen to hear from any bands as to what they thought of this kind of feedback. The adjudicators were given a list of criteria on which bands should be adjudicated, but, as with the ABBA/British system, there is no rankings of these criteria or guidelines in terms of marking structure or how these may be used. So once again the judges have freedom to mark and reward completely as they wish. The judges were screened, and sat next to each other in the same enclosed space but marked independently. So whilst we didn't confer on marking we were of course quite aware of each other's comments. I shall be writing to NABBA with some suggestions as to how perhaps they can think about further improving their more progressive system. As to the UK situation, frankly I despair. As the months go pass, the age-old status quo is allowed to go on unchallenged. I feel a great sadness for participating bands, and hope that before too long a fresh initiative can be taken.
As I said at the beginning the virtual non stop travelling has taken up all my time and energy, but it has been an incredible experience, and there are no real signs of its slowing down just yet, at least until the beginning of July.
In February I enjoyed the Dutch Tuba and Euphonium day, and the Brassurround Festival in Torrent, Spain, a fascinating five days in Malta (and Gozo) which climaxed with a concert in the Manoel Theatre in Valetta. I also enjoyed a one day workshop in with the Test Valley Brass.
In March I went to the beautiful German town of Deidesheim to give a two day workshop and present a solo recital, accompanied by Asta Kvasyte. The following weekend I was in Switzerland, in a beautiful region around Fribourg for an anniversary concert with brass band. It was a real pleasure to share that time with them. I had another day in Markneukirchen, Germany, for my monthly in visit to test and check the new Besson euphonium and baritone production. It's always a pleasure to do this and I know what an important responsibility this is. Sometimes I am able to spread the testing over two days, but more often than not, I have to do it all in one day, including flying there and back.
On the 23rd of March I embarked on a very long trip which encompassed three parts of the USA then popped back across the Atlantic to Latvia, and then rather unbelievably, back to the USA for the NABBA championships. Despite the rather ridiculous schedule everything went extremely well. The Brass Band of Battle Creek continues its marvellous music making and presented another superb concert to its adoring Battle Creek audience. From there I went, via Dallas, to Kingsville, Texas to work at the Texas A&M University. The students and staff there were so welcoming and I enjoyed these days so much especially the final concert were I played in the first half with piano accompaniment and the second half with the University Wind Symphony. A day off after this massive concert would have been superb, but at 5.50am the next morning, and I was on a plane, firstly to Houston and then on to Baltimore. By early afternoon I was rehearsing with the Towson State University Wind Orchestra for a performance of the rather new and excellent Euphonium Concerto by David Gillingham. This performance was part of a Music Educators Conference held in Baltimore. I feel sure that this new concerto is going to be played more often, especially as it will be the final piece in the Euphonium Artist competition at ITEC 2012 in Linz !!
I also gave two masterclasses in Baltimore. I'd like to say a huge thanks to Ed Goldstein for setting of all this up for me.
I took the flight back to London, and then directly drove around the M25 motorway to London Stansted Airport where I took the evening flight to Riga, Latvia. For the next three days I was part of the Riga Brass Symposium, which was a well organized brass festival that attracted many very dedicated and serious brass students. I gave a concert with the Latvian Brass Band (in the second half) and played in the first half with piano, accompanied again by Asta, who this time had taken the shorter journey from Vilnius, Lithuania to Riga.
From there it was back to London and flew on to Chicago and then Grand Rapids. They cancelled the connecting flight from Chicago and American Airlines informed me there were no free seats on later flights that day, or for the next three days ! So I rented a car and drove !!
As I said earlier, the NABBA event was a most enjoyable one, all under one roof at the giant Sheraton Hotel complex. Yet again it was wonderful to see the support that the Besson company gives to this competition, as well as so many others around the world.
Following that weekend I managed a few rest days at home and am now packing my case for the next trips.
Tomorrow (Saturday 16th April) I will fly in Lima, Peru for the 2011 Peru low Brass Festival. From there and I'll go back to Paris to record a duet on a CD being made by the talented French Euphonium player Bastien Baumet. From there I'll go to Beijing for six days, that will include two masterclasses and a large public recital. I will post a full report on these visits on this site and my facebook page. After China, I will go to Innsbruck to give the world premiere of the incredible new Euphonium piece entitled ‘BLISS', by the Austrian composer Hermann Pallhuber. (more on this piece soon!!).
Thanks again to all of you for your support and encouragement. It means so much to me.
Many of you have contacted me about the release date of my new solo CD, ‘Fandango', which I was hoping to have released by now. The CD had itself is finished but the artwork and programme notes are not, and this is of course entirely my fault !! But it's coming very soon, I'm very pleased with it, and I'll be able to confirm the release date in the next few days. I am hopeful of a date around the end of May