What's new at yeodoug.com in 2014?
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...
December 23, 2014 - COMMENTARY
As the year winds to a close, it's time to catch up and look back at the second half of 2015. Keeping up with my "What's New" page has taken a back seat to the many activities I'm involved in, most of all my work teaching at Arizona State University. The Fall 2014 semester was very busy and while I'm grateful to be enjoying the Christmas break, we had a great semester with many highlights. The ASU Trombone Studio Facebook Page is the place where I post information about what we're doing as a Trombone Studio so have a look at it and scroll down through the last few months of posts to learn what our students and I have been doing together.
First, a few photos, from top left, clockwise, with comments below: Delicate Arch at Arches National Park, our family at Grand Canyon National Park, ready to hike the Bright Angel Trail, recording session with my ASU brass colleagues Deanna Swoboda (tuba) and John Ericson (horn), my class of students at the 20th Hamamatsu (Japan) International Wind Instrument Academy and Seminar, our granddaughter, Hannah, born on November 1, playing Homer Rodeheaver's trombone in the Winona History Center, Rainbow Bridge.
Summer was full of trips - music trips and vacations. While conducting research on an article I have submitted to the Historic Brass Society Journal about Homer Rodeheaver, the trombone-playing song leader for evangelist Billy Sunday in the first part of the 20th century, I traveled to Grace College in Winona Lake, Indiana. Grace College has the BIlly Sunday Collection, an extensive archive of his papers and ephemera, and the Winona History Center is a treasure-trove of information about Rodeheaver and his contemporaries. While there, I gave a masterclass at The Masterworks Festival. and also played a mini-recital of duets with my friend, Megumi Kanda, principal trombonist of the Milwaukee Symphony. It was a rich time and my 20,000 word article has been sent off to the Historic Brass Society editorial board for peer review.
In June we visited five National Parks - Arches, Canyonlands, Bryce Canyon, Zion and Capital Reef - as well as Monument Valley and Rainbow Bridge National Monument. What can be better than a vacation of hiking in these great places, set aside long ago for, in the words of Theodore Roosevelt, "The Benefit and Enjoyment of the People." Our National Parks are truly America's Best Idea, as Ken Burns so elequently put it in his recent documentary about the Park system.
July brought us back to Rocky Mountain National Park for the first time since 1978. Of course the mountains haven't changed much since then and we enjoyed a great time of hiking, but the town of Estes Park, gateway to the National Park, was unrecognizable in the 35 years since we were there. One of the reasons we decided to move to Arizona after my retirement from the Boston Symphony was so we could be in proximity to the great National Parks of the west. Driving to them on our own car is a new way of visiting them, and we never tire of them.
In August I traveled to Japan, to take part in the 20th International Hamamatsu International Wind Instrument Academy and Festival. I had been to Hamamatsu many times before, including four previous times of being on the faculty at the Academy. It was great to get back to Japan and its people; this was my 13th trip to this fascinating country. It was an opportunity to meet with some friends old and new, and work with a class of very talented students. One of the nice things about this year's Academy was that my translator was Nozomi Kasano. I met Nozomi at the 10th Hamamatsu Academy and Festival; she subsequently came to New England Conservatory of Music to earn a Graduate Diploma and Master's Degree with me and now she is bass trombonist of the Japan Century Orchestra in Osaka. I am very proud of her - as I am proud of all the students I've been blessed to work with over the years - and it was a particular pleasure to work with her again as she put my thoughts and ideas into Japanese for my students. And, of course, I enjoyed some of Hamamatsu's specialty food, unagi (grilled eel). It's only the most delicious food I've ever eaten!
The summer closed with a family vacation to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, a place we've been to more times than we can count but of which we never tire.
The fall brought a new class of students to ASU. The release of our first CD, Of Grandeur, Grace & Glory back in April was a huge success and our ASU Desert Bones Trombone Choir had a recording session in November where we recorded 10 tracks for a planned CD of Christmas music; our ASU Tuba/Euphonium Studio will also contribute tracks to the album. My ASU brass colleagues John Ericson (horn) and Deanna Swoboda (tuba) and I released a new CD of music for low brass trio; it has been met with critical acclaim and it is a great document of our friendship and joy of working together.
The semester got off to a bang when our ASU Desert Bones Trombone Choir played the National Anthem on August 31 at Chase Field in Phoenix, at an Arizona Diamondbacks/Colorado Rockies basseball game. This was a thrill for all of us and you can see and hear our performance in the video below:
But when I look back at the events of 2014, they are all overshadowed by a little girl, our first grandchild, Hannah. She was born on November 1 and has captured our hearts. Life has changed since she came into the world and we are so grateful to God for our family.
And now it is nearly Christmas. These events mentioned above are just a small sample of things that have kept me busy over the last few months. Much more is ahead for 2015, with trips to Texas and Seattle and Boston, more performances, trips to National Parks, sporting events to attend and a birthday celebration in May with a "zero" in the number. Life moves at the speed of light sometimes, but I feel very blessed with all that God allows and calls me to do. 2015. Wow.
June 8, 2014 - COMMENTARY
Last week, I attended the 43rd International Trombone Festival, hosted by the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York. This was the fifth such Festival I have attended and in every way the most memorable.
I began playing the trombone when I was nine years old. In 1972, when I was a senior in high school, I joined a new group dedicated to promoting the trombone: the International Trombone Association. Since that time, I have written many articles for the ITA Journal, served as General News Editor for the Journal, and been a member of the ITA Board of Advisors. Much has changed since 1972, but at its core, the ITA and the event it sponsors each year, the ITF, has remained true to its mission of bringing together trombone players from around the world to perform, teach, learn and promote our instrument.
Attending this year's ITF was particularly special for me because in January, Brett Baker, Chairman of the ITA Awards Committee, emailed to tell me that I had been selected to receive the International Trombone Association's 2014 ITA Award. I'm not sure I could adequately convey my thoughts when Brett contacted me. The ITA Award is given to one individual each year. It's not something you can campaign for. You don't apply for it. You are selected by a vote of peers in the trombone world: the ITA Board of Directors, Board of Advisers and Council of Past Presidents. When Brett told me I had been selected to receive the 2014 Award, he asked if I would be able to come to the 2014 ITF to accept it. That was an easy decision: Yes!
When I have attended previous Festivals, my main focus was on performing. Over the years, I have performed as a soloist with orchestra (I played the Christopher Brubeck Bass Trombone Concerto at the 1999 ITF At SUNY Potsdam), gave a presentation with my orchestra section (the Baltimore Symphony trombone section played at the 1982 ITF at Belmont College), played a chamber music recital (such as my duet recital with Douglas Wright at the 1999 ITF at SUNY Potsdam, playing with the Yamaha XENO Trombone Quartet at the 2004 ITF at Ithaca College, and performing with Burning River Brass and a bass trombone quintet that consisted of James Markey, Charles Vernon, Paul Pollard, Dan Satterwhite and myself at the 2013 ITF at Columbus State University), or presenting a masterclass or paper (such as my masterclass about doubling on the serpent at the 1999 ITF or my lecture about Boston Symphony trombone players at the 2013 ITF at Columbus State University). This year, my main purpose was to simply enjoy being there, taking in all that the week would offer and accepting the ITA Award.
But when Dr. John Marcellus, trombone professor at Eastman since 1978 - he retired from Eastman this year - asked me to perform as soloist with the Eastman Trombone Choir at the ITF Opening Ceremony, that was another easy decision to make. We quickly decided that I would play John Stevens' "The Chief," in honor of Emory Remington who had been Professor of Trombone at Eastman from 1922-1971. Subsequently, Donny Pinson, Chairman of the ITA Competitions Committee asked if I would be willing to serve on the panel to adjudicate two of the ITA's bass trombone competitions for young players. All of a sudden my week filled up - but in wonderful ways.
The ITF is an exercise in trombone overload. Activities, clinics, recitals and concerts are scheduled from early morning until midnight each day and one has to make hard choices about what to attend. But there are no wrong choices. Everything that is presented is at a spectacularly high level, and it was particularly nice to share in listening to some of the world's finest trombone players while sitting in the audience along side colleagues and former students as well as new friends. I enjoyed listening to recitals along with colleagues and friends who are among the most successful trombonists in the world. They are too numerous to mention all of them, but it is enough to say that it was such a pleasure to meet up with friends like Ronald Barron (retired principal trombonist of the Boston Symphony), Dennis Bubert (bass trombonist of the Fort Worth Symphony and trombone professor at University of Texas, Arlington), David Fetter (retired principal trombonist of the Baltimore Symphony), John Engelkes (bass trombonist of the San Francisco Symphony), Ralph Sauer (retired principal trombonist of the Los Angeles Philharmonic), Shachar Israel (assistant principal trombonist of the Cleveland Orchestra), Jim Nova (second and utility trombonist of the Pittsburgh Symphony) and former students like David Begnoche (trombone professor at Texas Christian University) and Matthew Guilford (bass trombonist of the National Symphony). I also enjoyed meeting people and making new friends, interacting with students who wanted to talk with me, and being witness to extraordinary playing by world renowned trombonists like Jorgen van Rijen, Ian Bousfield, Bill Reichenbach, Brett Baker, John Fedchock and Jon Kenny.
There were also many instrument and music vendors at the Festival, and I enjoyed meeting with many friends like Steve Dillon (Dillon Music), Chuck DePaolo and David Zimet (Hickeys Music Center), and Chris Manners, Wayne Tanabe and Jonathan Goldman (YAMAHA). I left a little money at a few tables and came home with music, CDs and accessories to help me in my own performing and teaching.
But certainly the highlight of the week was accepting the 2014 ITA Award. I am the seventh bass trombonist to receive the ITA Award in the organization's history. The other six recipients are people who are very special to me in one way or another:
Allen Ostrander: long time bass trombonist of the New York Philharmonic who also, in 1972, gave me the only private trombone lesson I had before going to college
John Coffey: former bass trombonist of the Cleveland Orchestra and Boston Symphony, and a long time teacher in Boston
George Roberts: "Mr. Bass Trombone" who was so influential on me as I was developing my own sound and style
Ben van Dijk: my good friend who is bass trombonist of the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra
Tom Everett: retired Director of Bands at Harvard University, a founder of the ITA and a very dear friend
Edward Kleinhammer: bass trombonist of the Chicago Symphony 1940-1985, my teacher, father-figure, mentor and friend
All of these players have meant to much to me on a personal level. So being included in the pantheon of ITA Award recipients where my name now stands alongside these friends and heroes of mine - as well as with other trombone greats who have been so influential on me such as J. J. Johnson, Denis Wick and Urbie Green (see the full list of recipients HERE) - is a blessing beyond measure.
The award plaque reads:
INTERNATIONAL TROMBONE ASSOCIATION
ITA AWARD 2014
In recognition of his distinguished career
and in acknowledgement of his impact on the world of
The ITA Officers, Board of Advisors
and Council of Past Presidents
Central to the plaque is a stylized image of a buccin, the early 19th century French form of a trombone with a zoomorphic bell, with the ITA logo. This image has always captivated me and it speaks to my great love of the history of the trombone. Also, this image is based on a buccin that is owned by New England Conservatory of Music where I taught for many years; Tom Everett, one of the founders of the ITA, taught at NEC in those early days of the Association and he came up with this wonderful idea for the ITA logo. It first appeared in the ITA Journal in Volume 10 in 1982.
But to make all of this even more enjoyable was to share the stage on Friday evening with my friend Ron Barron who received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the ITA (photo at right). To stand alongside Ron - with whom I played in the Boston Symphony for over 20 years - was very special. Ron and I are good friends and while we are both retired from the BSO, we continue to be vibrant proponents of the trombone in many ways, as teachers and performers. Ron, who received the ITA Award in 2005, stands alongside John Coffey and me as three recipients of the ITA Award who have been members of the Boston Symphony.
I left Rochester with a heart and mind full of experiences and emotions, so happy to have been part of the ITF and looking forward to some quiet moment ahead to put it all in perspective. I am a very blessed man to have had a long career in music that continues in my role as Professor of Trombone at Arizona State University. The 42nd International Trombone Festival is in the books but its memories will be with me for many, many years to come.
January 27, 2014 - COMMENTARY
The email that arrived a few days ago was from Brett Baker, the noted British trombone soloist and Chairman of the International Trombone Association Awards Committee; its words took a moment to sink in:
I have great pleasure in informing you that you are the winner of the 2014 ITA Award, which has been voted for by fellow trombonists in the trombone community, past presidents and advisors of the International Trombone Association.
The ITA Award has been given annually since the founding of the International Trombone Association in 1972, and it recognizes outstanding contributions to the trombone community and "the highest level of creative and artistic output in areas such as performance, composition, arranging, teaching, conducting, research and service." I have been a member of the ITA since its founding and each year, I have enjoyed celebrating the selection of the recipient of the ITA Award. The list of those who have received the Award reads like a "Who's Who" of notable contributors to the history of our noble instrument. Among them have been six bass trombonists: John Coffey (1977), Thomas Everett (1980), Allen Ostrander (1981), George Roberts (1982), Edward Kleinhammer (1986) and Ben van Dijk (2003). My friend and colleague, Ronald Barron (retired principal trombonist of the Boston Symphony) received the award in 2005 and my first trombone "hero," J.J. Johnson, received it in 1988. To say that I am honored to be counted among their number is a profound understatement.
I have been asked to come to the to accept the award at 43rd International Trombone Festival; the Festival will be held at the Eastman School of Music in June of this year. I will attend, and I look forward to interacting with the many friends, colleagues and students who will be there as well. I am deeply grateful to those in the ITA leadership who saw in me someone worthy to be honored in this way, and I am most of all pleased for the attention it will bring to our program and talented students at Arizona State University.
January 26, 2014 - COMMENTARY
Readers of my What's New Page for 2013 will notice that my entries dropped off after October of that year. The end of 2013 was very busy for me, but it was the death of two men with whom I was very close that caused me to take much time to reflect. Only now, several months later, do I feel that I can write something here on my website in tribute to them.
Edward Marck Kleinhammer (that is not a typo, his middle name was, indeed, Marck) died on November 30, 2013 at the age of 94. He was my trombone teacher during my years as a student at Wheaton College (1974-1976). But he was far more than that. He was my friend, mentor and father-figure, a person who stepped into my life and changed me measurably. Those who know his name primarily know him for his long career as bass trombonist of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (1940-1985). But there was so much more to him than his life with a trombone in his hand.
Edward Kleinhammer was born in Chicago on August 31, 1919. His birthday was a happy coincidence - August 31 was the day that my wife and I were married in 1975, so each year, Mr. Kleinhammer and I would exchange birthday and anniversary greetings on our shared, happy day. He was a member of the Chicago Civic Orchestra and Leopold Stokowski's "All American Youth Orchestra" that toured South America in 1940. After his retirement from the Chicago Symphony in 1985, he moved from downtown Chicago to Barrington, Illinois before moving to Hayward, Wisconsin in 1997. His first and second wives - Dorothy and Norma - predeceased him and he married his third wife, Dessie, in 1999.
In 1985, I wrote a tribute to Edward Kleinhammer that was published in the International Trombone Association Journal on the occasion of his retirement from the Chicago Symphony. Readers can view and download that article by clicking HERE. In that article, I related stories about Mr. Kleinhammer that were still close to me; I had only been out of college nine years at that time and my memories of lessons in his studio in the Fine Arts Building on Chicago's Michigan Avenue were still very fresh. Over the years, we retained a very close friendship, talking on the phone every few weeks and exchanging hundreds of letters and, later, emails. I last saw him at his home in Hayward in 2009; we last spoke on the phone three days before he died while taking a nap in his favorite chair.
I have just recently completed another article about Edward Kleinhammer for the ITA Journal that will appear in the April 2014 issue. This article is titled, Edward Kleinhammer: A Life and Legacy Remembered. I do not wish to duplicate that tribute here, but rather I'd like to add a few more things to my memory of this great man.
I have often said that everyone needs someone who loves them enough to tell them things they don't want to hear. Edward Kleinhammer was one of those people in my life. In 1978, I was in graduate school at New York University. At that time, the Chicago Symphony was coming to New York City several times a year to play concerts in Carnegie Hall. My wife and I had season tickets to those concerts and many of them are still memorable. On one of those trips, I asked Mr. Kleinhammer if we could have a lesson. He graciously agreed, so I met him at his hotel and we took the subway downtown to the NYU campus on West Fourth Street in Greenwich Village. Once there, we went to the bandroom where I proceeded to play for him. I played. And played. And played. After each etude, he asked me to play something else. I found this puzzling to say the least as he didn't offer any feedback. Finally he looked me in the eye and said, "I'm very disappointed. It's like you forgot everything." The words were like a dagger in my heart. The man in the world for whom I had the most respect - the man from whom I wished the greatest approval - had delivered a harsh verdict. But he did not stop there. Many teachers simply criticize and leave a student to fend for himself. Not Edward Kleinhammer. He had something more to say. "What do you want to do?", he said. "I want to do what I've always wanted to do. I want to play in a great symphony orchestra, like you," was my reply. He shook his head and said, "Then why don't you do what you know you need to do to get there?" Without my telling him, he knew my playing had changed. He was right. I wasn't doing what I knew I needed to do to get to where I wanted. Once I moved to New York, most of the work that presented itself to me was commercial work. Studio recording sessions, big band playing, subbing for Broadway shows. Classical work was tough to come by - after all, the New York City Musician's Union directory had 58 bass trombone players listed in it, and my name began with "Y". I was far from a first call player. So I took the work that I could get. And by working mostly as a commercial player, my playing had changed. I had switched to a smaller mouthpiece. My attacks had become harder since I was often playing for a microphone. I was not sustaining as long as I had when I was practicing symphonic literature. Yes, I could still play the bass trombone well. But Edward Kleinhammer heard things in my playing that were spot on - I was playing like I had "forgotten everything." As the reality of his words sank in, he continued talking me through the moment, telling me that if I wanted to succeed as a symphony player, I needed to return to the fundamentals of playing that he and I had worked on for so long. I realized as he talked that it was not true that, "any kind of trombone playing was good since it meant I was playing the trombone." Rather, I realized that I needed to devote myself to a particular kind of trombone playing. I had spread myself thin, I had followed the money, and I had lost track of my goal and how to get there. The rest of that lesson was one of great encouragement. Mr. Kleinhammer got me recentered, focused again on what I needed to do. We left the room side by side, his arm around my shoulder. Three years later I was a member of the Baltimore Symphony. He was right.
And when I joined the Baltimore Symphony, nobody sent me a more meaningful letter of congratulations than Edward Kleinhammer. Throughout our many years of friendship, we shared many special moments together. We wrote a book, Mastering the Trombone, now published by Ensemble Publications. We watched Super Bowl XXXI together in 1997 when the Green Bay Packers beat the New England Patriots just a few days before he moved from Barrington to Hayward. He came to many of my recitals, we worked together at an International Trombone Festival. We laughed and cried together, and we talked shop, about our families, and shared conversations about music, culture and faith. For at the heart of Edward Kleinhammer's life was a vibrant Christian faith that formed and shaped him and all he did. This was a resonance that we both shared that brought us closer together than the trombone. I speak extensively about this aspect of his life in my forthcoming tribute to him that will appear in the April 2014 ITA Journal. More on that article when it appears.
I miss him. It is unsettling to think that he is not just a phone call away. Yet this is life - when a man reaches 94 years of age, his end is closer than his beginning. I am grateful for Edward Kleinhammer and all that he meant to me - and to so many others. I know that I would not be who I am today - I would not have accomplished what I have with a trombone in my hands - without his influence. He very much was God's instrument in molding a young trombone player such as I into what you see today. Our loss is heaven's gain.
Photos: Above Left, Edward Kleinhammer in 1975 - Right, Edward Kleinhammer and Douglas Yeo in January 2009.
When I joined the Boston Symphony Orchestra in 1985, one of the first things I did was to undertake a study of former members of the orchestra's trombone section. I had known of several of them, names that easily came to mind, like principal trombonist Joannes Rochut who arranged three books of Vocalises by Marco Bordogni that were published by Carl Fischer in 1928, and principal trombonist William Gibson who arranged several pieces of music published by International Music Company that I had frequently used. I was particularly interested in the line of bass trombone players who had been members of the BSO. I was the tenth bass trombonist in the orchestra's 104 year history when I joined in 1985; when I left, I had been there longer (over 27 years) than any of them apart from Leroy Kenfield, who served for 32 years from 1900-1933. Slowly the names - George Stewart, David Moore, J. Abloescher, F. Meyer, Leroy Kenfield, Hans Durck Valdemar Lillebach, John Coffey, Kauko Kahila and Gordon Hallberg - became real people. Through extensive study in the Boston Symphony archives, photos began to put faces with names, recordings told of their sounds, and I began to realize the shoes that I was working to fill from my chair in the back row of the stage in Symphony Hall were very large indeed. Of all of my predecessors, only Gordon Hallberg and Kauko Kahila were still alive. So one afternoon in 1986, I picked up the phone and called Kauko and arranged to meet him at his home on Cape Cod. I'm very glad I did.
Kauko Emil Kahila died on November 18, 2013 at the age of 93. Born in Massachusetts of parents of Finnish descent, Kauko studied trombone at New England Conservatory of Music under Hans Valdemar Lillebach who was at that time, bass trombonist of the BSO (1934-1941). Kauko mostly played tenor trombone in school and, frustrated with the lack of good study material for the instrument, wrote a book of his own etudes that was later published by Robert King Music as Advanced Studies for Trombone in Alto and Tenor Clefs; it remains in print today. He auditioned for the bass trombone chair in the Houston Symphony in 1941 and played with that orchestra until 1944; from 1944-1952 he was bass trombonist of the Saint Louis Symphony before joining the Boston Symphony in the summer of 1952. He retired from the BSO in 1972.
When I visited Kauko - he was known as "KoKo" by his friends, and later he said it would have been very funny if my last name had been "Teagarden" since then there would be BSO players known as Coffey, Koko and Tea - he was, frankly, a little suspicious of me. He had long been retired from the orchestra and had turned his interest from music to other pursuits, particularly the collecting of glass paperweights and other glass pieces, and the study of the history of decorative glass. He had served as curator at two glass museums on Cape Cod and was even working at the Sandwich glass foundry where he learned to blow glass himself. After introductions and a few minutes of small talk, Kauko asked me a direct question, "What do you want?" I suppose he thought I might have some kind of hidden agenda; I did not. I replied, "I'd like to be your friend." A big smile came over his face - I had passed the test, and at that moment we began a long, wonderful friendship.
In 1987, I interviewed Kauko for the International Trombone Association Journal. I felt that his story was so interesting that other trombonists needed to know some of what he had done that made him such an influential player during his time. You can view and download that interview by clicking HERE.
After we met, Kauko returned to composing and wrote a book of bass trombone studies at my suggestion that was published by Robert King Music as, A Semester of Studies. He very generously dedicated it to me. I told him it was only right that he wrote a book of bass trombone etudes after he was so well known as a writer of an excellent book of tenor trombone studies. He subsequently wrote several other books of studies for tenor and bass trombone that he sent to me little by little - one page at a time as he wrote them - over a period of many years. I plan to work to have them published because among them are some exercises of treat interest - and challenge!
Kauko was a member of the BSO during one of the orchestra's golden ages, the tenure of music director Charles Munch. With Munch he traveled around the world and made dozens of recordings, as well as many recordings with Arthur Fiedler, conductor of the Boston Pops Orchestra. In 1953, the BSO toured Europe with a stop in Finland. Kauko went to the home of the great composer, Jean Sibelius, and rang the doorbell. Sibelius came to a second floor window to greet his visitor. Kauko said he asked Sibelius, in Finnish, "Maestro, why don't you write a trombone concerto?" To which Sibelius replied, "I don't write music any more but I already wrote a trombone concerto - it's my Seventh Symphony."
Kauko also played on the first commercial recording of the Bartok Concerto for Orchestra, a piece that had been premiered by the Boston Symphony under Serge Koussevitzky. He was very proud of his work with the Reynolds company in developing a double valve bass trombone along with Allen Ostrander of the New York Philharmonic and Louis Counihan of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra that made playing the low B required in Bartok's piece possible. That recording, on RCA Victor conducted by Erich Liensdorf, remains in the catalog, a fine performance even after all these years.
Over the years my wife, daughters and I had many visits to see Kauko Kahila and his wife, Mary. He always had great stories to tell, and he often would put a paperweight that he had made into my hand with a twinkle in his eye - at last count I think there are 12 or 15 of them around our home. On the bottom of each one he etched his name - "KoKo." I last saw him at his 90th birthday party at his home in West Falmouth, Massachusetts. For a birthday present, I played five of his trombone etudes for him and the assembled guests. Kauko sat in his chair, eyes closed, tapping his fingers throughout. It was an unforgettable time for me. Now he, too, is gone, and I and those who knew this kind, gentle man are left with memories and gratitude for his influence as a trombonist, composer and friend.
The deaths of Kauko Kahila and Edward Kleinhammer just two weeks apart left me with a heavy heart at the end of 2013, yet these two nonagenarians would not have wanted me - or anyone else - to be sad at their passing. Rather, each of them would want me to pick up my trombone and go practice. My playing and teaching reflects a great deal from both of them and as a result, their legacy is being handed down by me to my students. That is the wonderful thing about being a teacher and a friend. There comes a time when each of us passes from this earth. But our legacy continues through the influence we made on others. I am grateful for all that Edward Kleinhammer and Kauko Kahila gave to me. I am happy to pass it on.
Photos: Above Left, Kauko Kahila in 1960 - Right, Kauko Kahila and Douglas Yeo at Kahila's 90th birthday party in April 2010
January 25, 2014 - NEW
The Cello Suites of Johann Sebastion Bach tower above music like a mountain, works that are both majestic and mysterious, accessible and unapproachable. I have loved this music since I first started working on it while a student at Indiana University where I studied with Keith Brown. My love and fascination for the Cello Suites continued through my years of studying with Edward Kleinhammer at Wheaton College and then through my whole profossional career. The challenges they pose are daunting but the rewards are deep.
On my website you will find an article about the Bach Cello Suites, found in my FAQ section. There, I talk about why I think this music is so important, make recommendations about recordings that I have found to be helpful and inspiring, and give links to PDF files with my own performing edition of the Suites that I have prepared for trombone. While my edition is a work in progress - so far I have 16 movements completed - I wanted to show tromobnists how I approach this music and perhaps help them get their arms around it when they first start playing it. These downloads are free.
Of all of the movements of the Bach Cello Suites, it is the Sarabande of the Fifth Suite that is particularly daunting to trombonists. This movement appears on nearly every symphony orchestra audition for a bass trombone position and it is increasingly found on second trombone auditions as well. You even find a page on my website devoted just to the Sarabande, as part of my Bass Trombonist's Orchestral Handbook. It is one of the few Cello Suite movements that does not contain any double stops - every bar simply (simply?!) has four or five notes. Simple, yes? No. This is one of the most difficult movements to play in all of music, for finding the right tempo, executing the right kind of musical expression and having the control of air and embouchure to play it at a soft dynamic are difficult tasks, indeed. Yet this is a piece that all bass and tenor trombone players need to work on so my PDF file of my edition of this movement - first uploaded to my website in 2001 - represented my thinking on how to approach this movement.
But over time we all change. In recent years, I have begun phrasing the Sarabande in slightly different ways and recently, I decided to re-do my edition of this movement and upload my new thoughts. In addition to the music, I have also added a page of commentary. I have thought through the whole Sarabande form, the emphais of beats and the phrasing of legato near the end of the piece. There is no such thing as a "definitive" edition, but I hope this new rendering of the Sarabande for trombone will be helpful to players who find themselves immersed in the beauty, mystery and challenges of the piece.
Click HERE to view and download the PDF file of my new editing of the Bach Fifth Cello Suite Sarabande with commentary. I hope you will embrace the challenge.