Douglas Yeo's new solo recording featuring live performances given in concert, 1975-1997
A Die letzte Posaune Production, CD 51955
Total time = 71:45
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The success of my first solo compact disc recording PROCLAMATION was a wonderful surprise. The realization of a long held dream, my collaboration with Britain's Black Dyke Mills Band, and the inclusion of tracks that included my wife, Pat, on piano and Boston Symphony Orchestra trombonist Ron Barron was an immense pleasure. The help of my friend Roger Challoner Green, who's book In Pursuit of a Dream details every aspect of the making of that recording, was extraordinary, and the critical success of the recording and the kind comments I've received from so many people has given me confidence to make plans for additional solo releases.
This new recording, Take 1, has long been in the back of my mind. Always one to enjoy doing something different, it occurred to me that so many recordings are over processed and edited - I know of trombone recordings that are spliced together measure by measure, and the ability of an expert editor to fix every little thing is truly remarkable. However, in the production of many recordings, the "life" of the music is sucked away with multiple takes and minute splices. The idea of releasing a recording of live performances, with no editing whatsoever, recorded over a period of years, appealed to me.
Such a recording is not without risk - there will surely be those who will complain that it is not "perfect" but my response is, "What is perfect?" I've heard many "note perfect" performances that have left me unmoved; for me, it has always been the emotional content of the performance and the aural connection with the audience that is most important.
Hence, I decided to take the risk and release this album of music that represents performances that were great fun and collaborations that make me smile. The inclusion of tracks recorded during my college years reminds me that even as a young player I was attempting to make that "connection" to the audience. While my playing has certainly become more polished over the years, and the influence of many role models has made me rethink my style in significant ways, this 20+ year traversal of my playing career reminds me (and I hope others, as well) that making music in concert is as good as it gets. The thrill of standing on stage in front of an audience can create wonderful moments in music, and I'm happy to share some of my special moments with those who listen to this recording.
Since the small booklet that accompanies the CD can only tell so much about each piece, here are some further comments about the music and music making on the recording.
When I auditioned for colleges while in high school, the Rimsky-Korsakov Concerto was my primary audition solo. I entered Indiana University in the fall of 1973 (studying with Keith Brown) and transferred to Wheaton College (near Chicago) in the summer of 1974 (where I studied with Edward Kleinhammer). It was the custom of the Wheaton College Concert Band and Orchestra to tour during one week of our Christmas vacation and during our spring break. I went on four such tours with Wheaton groups, covering territory in the mid-west and east coast of the United States.
As part of these concerts, a student soloist usually performed a concerto and I was chosen to play the Rimsky-Korsakov on the Wheaton Concert Band tour in March 1975. The tour was seven days long and I played the Concerto each night; it was the first time I had been a soloist with a large ensemble that required me to give multiple successive performances of the same work. That same spring, on May 16, 1975, the Concert Band gave its annual spring concert in Edman Memorial Chapel at Wheaton College and I performed the work one more time, this time for the microphone as well.
When I look back on that performance, I am horrified that I took so much of the piece "up an octave." That was the custom at the time; in fact it unfortunately remains the custom today despite the fact that Rimsky-Korsakov did not write the piece that way. Today, when I perform the piece, I play it as Rimsky-Korsakov wrote it and I regularly rail against those who tamper so severely with music as did I in 1975. I suppose there is something to be said for growing up and learning a few things along the road. Nevertheless, I had a lot of fun playing the Concerto and the performance brings back many wonderful memories of times with Wheaton friends. Looking at their names below reminds me of great times of music making, pranks and fun on the tour bus, times of prayer and fellowship together, and lasting friendships that are still with me over twenty years later.
E Flat Clarinet
Judith Cook *
Linda Klett (piccolo)
Linda Ryd *
Sara Wade (English horn)
Elizabeth Ritzmann *
Lisa Mittelberg *
James Hicks *
* = Principal
Ann Logan *
Mark Lutz *
James Roskam *
Douglas Yeo (bass)
Timothy Salzman *
Kenneth Wolf *
Four Pieces for Bass Trombone and Piano
While a student at Indiana University, I came to know the late Lewis Van Haney, the legendary trombonist of the New York Philharmonic who was then teaching at IU. While I was not in his studio, I played in his trombone choir on many occasions and we talked at length about the bass trombone and literature.
Van Haney told me about a new piece he had comissioned in 1973 which he premiered at DePauw University on March 11, 1973. Tetra Ergon was the work, and on Van's recommendation, I wrote the composer, Donald H. White, asking if I could purchase a copy of the work. I received my copy in February 1974 and when it came time for me to plan my Senior Bass Trombone Recital at Wheaton, there was no question in my mind that Tetra Ergon would be the centerpiece around which the rest of the recital would revolve.
My accompanist, Timothy Salzman, was and remains a close friend. We shared so many interests, in addition to his fine piano playing (he was also a fine jazz/rock pianist as well), he played tuba in the Wheaton Band and Orchestra - we sat next to each other in many memorable concerts (we will NEVER forget our performance of Rimsky-Korsakov's Russian Easter Overture in our final concert at Wheaton!). Tim and I took an immediate liking to Tetra Ergon and really felt a connection to the piece. Here is the program note that appeared at the premiere of Tetra Ergon which Van Haney sent to me just before I played the piece at my Senior Recital on April 19, 1976.
Four Pieces for Bass Trombone and Piano
composed by Donald H. White
Examine the roster of the world's most respected trombonists: Lewis Van Haney, guest artist for this evening's recital, will be listed among the first. His technical abilities, brasswind knowledge, plus his outstanding musicianship have brought him international recognition and esteem. Following his graduation from the Eastman School of Music in 1942, where he was a pupil of Emory Remington, Mr. Van Haney became a member of the Official Army Band, Washington, D.C. Leaving the service in 1945, he met and studied with William Bell, principal tuba with the New York Philharmonic. For the next 17 years, Mr. Van Haney enjoyed a brilliant career with this orchestra, leaving it in 1963 to join the faculty of the Indiana University School of Music where he presently teaches trombone.
Early in 1972, Mr. Van Haney approached Professor Donald White [born in Narbeth, Pennsylvania in 1921, who was at the time on the faculty of DePauw University] about writing a multi-movement work for bass trombone and piano in memory of three renowned low-brass virtuoso performers. Tetra Ergon is the product of that idea and includes as its first movement a dedicatory piece for Mr. Van Haney. Memorial movements follow:
William Bell: Affectionately known as "The Boss", a beloved teacher and performer, Bill Bell was one of those rare insrumentalists who genuinely influenced the acceptance and artistic standards of his instrument. He played principal tuba with the Sousa Band, the Cincinnati Symphony, the Goldman Band, the NBC Symphony, and the New York Philharmonic. Mr. Bell joined the faculty of the Indiana University School of Music in 1961.
Emory Remington: To his former students, Mr. Remington will always be "The Chief". A revered member of the Eastman School of Music faculty for 49 years, Emory Remington was a self-taught, but inspired trombonist and teacher. To put into words what he meant to his former students is difficult to express. Howard Hanson, Director Emeritus of the Eastman School, has the following to say about "The Chief":
I have always been fascinated by attempts to analyze the attributes which make a great teacher, and have come, regretfully, to the conclusion that there is no formula. A short time ago, I was talking with one of The Chief's most famous pupils, himself the solo trombone of one of the country's great symphony orchestras. I asked him the direct question, "What makes Emory Remington a great teacher?" His answer was equally direct: "I don't know. If I knew, I would write the definitive book on education!"
I don't know either, but I can make some guesses. It is professional knowledge without pedantry, perfection without sadism, enthusiasm mixed with dedication, and above all, a belief in the supreme importance of the individual and the development of his ability.
The Chief does not "teach trombone." He teaches people. There is a world of difference.
Dorothy Ziegler: Miss Ziegler, a brilliant performer on both trombone and piano, was also a pupil of "The Chief" at the Eastman School of Music. Miss Ziegler performed as trombonist with the National Symphony, Stokowski's All-American Youth Orchestra, and as principal trombonist with the Hollywood Bowl and St. Louis Symphonies, this last position being held for 14 years. She was also active professionally as an orchestral pianist, conductor, opera coach, music therapist, and as a member of the faculty of the University of Miami, Florida, a position she held until her death.
Tetra Ergon was commissioned by Lewis Van Haney.
Listeners with keen ears will note that near the conclusion of the third movement, "In Memory of The Chief" I will be heard singing the words of J.S. Bach's chorale, "Es ist genug" which Donald White quotes in his piece. This same chorale was used by Alban Berg in his Violin Concerto which happens to be one of my favorite pieces. White wrote the words to the chorale under the music, I assumed he meant for it to be sung - so I did (I am NO singer!). After I sent Donald White a copy of my recital program, I received a gracious letter of thanks from him (dated April 23, 1976) in which he wrote:
Thank you very much for your recent letter advising me of your performance of my Tetra Ergon. I am indeed pleased that you value the work so highly and deeply appreciate the time and energy that you must have put into it in preparing it for performance. I am also appreciative of the copy of the program and program notes enclosed along with your letter.
Although I really never contemplated anyone actually singing the text of the Bach Choral in the third movement, I can well appreciate why you did so in your performance and believe it to be a most sincere interpretation of the meaning of that particular movement.
The copy of Tetra Ergon which Tim and used in our performance was in the composer's manuscript. It was subsequently published by The Brass Press as part of the International Trombone Association Series. After being out of print for a number of years, Tetra Ergon is now available from Kagarice Brass Editions. Donald White is now retired from Central Washington University where he was Chairman of the Department of Music after leaving DePauw University in 1981. He lives now in Tucson, Arizona.
While at Wheaton, I was a bass trombone performance major, however the school required that each music major have a minor instrument. When I began studying at Wheaton, I chose euphonium as my minor, but after two quarters of playing it, I realized that I would likely not play the instrument much after graduation, that I knew the fingerings well enough to double in the future if I was in a pinch, and that the mouthpiece I was using on euphonium was different enough from my bass trombone mouthpiece to cause me some discomfort. Seeing as my body rejected the piano, I chose to minor in percussion.
This decision turned out to be a great move on my part. Kathy Kastner was (and remains) the percussion teacher at Wheaton; she taught me so much about rhythm and timing, and we are still good friends. My time studying with Kathy brought me through all the percussion instruments with most of my time spent on the mallet instruments, vibraphone, marimba and xylophone.
I played as a member of the Wheaton College Percussion Ensemble with some great friends, none more fun to work with than Craig Wahlgren, a native of Wisconsin who shared my slightly zany sense of humor, love of pranks, and interest in music.
I wanted my senior bass trombone recital to be something completely different, something Wheaton had never seen before, so I decided to include a percussion piece on my recital. The choice of Joplin's Solace was a natural one, it was something Craig and I had played many times and it provided a nice contrast to the other music on the recital. In this performance, I am playing vibes while Craig is playing marimba.
On March 31, 1997, I gave a recital in Jordan Hall at New England Conservatory of Music, an evening that will forever be remembered by those who were there.
The day before, Easter Sunday, was a beautiful day with temperatures in the 60's. Hence, I paid little mind when the weather forcast for the following day, March 31, called for some snow. Many friends and family members arrived from out of town, some coming long distances (from as far away as Chicago and Canada). However, God, with his infinite sense of humor, had something special in mind, as by the time my recital began at 8:00 PM on March 31, there was a foot of new snow on the ground. By the next morning, over three FEET of snow had fallen, giving Boston a new record for snowfall in a 24 hour period.
Nevertheless, those of us there at the recital (which may have been the only cultural event that was not cancelled that night in the city of Boston) heard many new pieces that were premiered that evening including a new work by David Fetter titled Split Personality.
David Fetter is well known as a composer and arranger of music for trombone and trombone ensemble. Currently, he is a trombone faculty member and Associate Dean for Performance Activities and Placement at the Peabody Conservatory of Music in Baltimore, Maryland. His career as a trombonist included two years in the Cleveland Orchestra under George Szell and sixteen years, ten of them as Principal, in the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. He was also a member of the U.S. Army Band in Washington D.C. (where he served along with BSO tubist Chester Schmitz), the San Antonio Symphony, and the Radio/Telefis Eireann Symphony Orchestra in Dublin, Ireland. He received his Bachelor of Music degree from Eastman School of Music (where he studied with Emory Remington) and his Master's in musicology from the American University. On my new CD release, PROCLAMATION, I have recorded David's beautiful Variations on Palestrina's 'Dona Nobis Pacem' for unaccompanied bass trombone.
Several months before the recital I asked Dave if he would consider writing me a piece for my March 31 concert, and remembering his hilariously funny and excellent Piano Trio for violin, horn and piano based on the ubiquitous tune "Yes, We Have No Bananas," suggested something in a humorous vein. The story of what I got and why I got it is detailed below in the composer's own words.
Included on my Take 1 recording is the first part of Fetter's Split Personality, Profile. I have long loved unaccompanied works, although this was the first piece I had played that was written ABOUT me. That fact provided special challenges and a special joy in playing it. The second movement in particular resonates with me, as I take on the role of a "preacher" in a long cadenza in the middle, with verbal outbursts that punctuate the musical line.
Note to audience members: Please wait and read this AFTER you hear the music, if you read it at all. When Doug Yeo first asked David Fetter to 'write something funny,' Fetter, knowing his own cynical and sometimes bitter brand of humor and Yeo's serious, irrepressibly positive nature, thought he just couldn't do it to the guy. Rather, Fetter side-stepped the request by writing a, for him, serious piece, Profile for unaccompanied bass trombone.
Profile has three movements, two of which are intended to give abstract voice to Yeo's staunch religious convictions, if he chooses to interpret the music this way. Profile's second movement, Blues March (Jazz Gospel Credo), seeks to reflect the gospel/blues roots called up by Wynton Marsalis, when he played a New Orleans-style jazz march at the 1996 Peabody Conservatory Commencement. The third movement, Comforting, may be thought of as a psalm. Each of the second and third movements has a free sermon-like passage. All three movements are some form of theme and variations. Some day, Fetter may advance to a point where he can deal with two themes.
In the summer of 1996, Fetter sent Profile to Yeo at Tanglewood and was satisfied that he had done something more positive than he would have writing "something funny." But one evening his local Baltimore top ten all hits-all day-all- night-they-just-keep-on-a-comin' classical music station was playing "Poet and Peasant Overture" for the 99th time, which created a dyspeptic gnawing for revenge in Fetter's gut - himself a veteran of years of pops concerts (Fetter closed a 26-year performance career in 1986 with 16 years in the trombone section of Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, some of this time spent in rehearsals yakking about politics with Yeo). "This stuff cries out for parody," he thought. Then the radio announcer repeated the station's call letters over and over for those who were not listening, and on came the Shostakovich Festival Overture for the 99th time. "Arggggh," said Fetter.
Thus, as the summer went on, Fetter cut, stretched, twisted, pasted, disfigured, shredded, gutted various innocent themes, songs, tunes until Insomnia at Pops was born. 20-year pops veterans will understand it best."
David Fetter lives in Baltimore. The David Fetter Website provides information about his music and details on how to order his compositions.
for Bass Trombone and Strings
Alan Hovhaness (1911-2000) is well known as a prolific composer who's music evokes images of vast space and spirituality. While perhaps best known for his Mysterious Mountain which burst onto the musical scene when Fritz Reiner recorded the work with the Chicago Symphony, Hovhaness wrote a huge body of work in nearly every musical genre.
In 1978, on a comission from bass trombonist David Taylor, Hovhaness composed his Symphony No. 34, Op. 310 for bass trombone and strings. In 1988, I performed the piece with the Boston Symphony Orchestra and was glad to have the opportunity to play it once again, this time in Japan.
In 1995, 1996 and 1997, I participated in the Annual Hamamatsu (Japan) International Wind Instrument Academy and Festival, sponsored by the City of Hamamatsu and Yamaha Corporation. The opportunity to perform a concerto with a chamber orchestra presented itself to me in 1997 and the choice of the Hovhaness Symphony was an easy one. With its deep tessitura, soaring lines, fugal passages, hymn like chorales and seeming timelessness, the image of Mt. Fuji kept coming to my mind as I played it. The response of the thousands of people in the concert hall was especially gratifying as this piece, written by a great composer whose wife is Japanese, received its first performance in Japan.
The Symphony No. 34, Op. 310 is available on rental from Hovhaness; publisher: Fujihara Music, 18206 51st Avenue South, Seattle, WA 98188. Phone 206.246.9880.
from Of Mountains, Lakes and Trees
One of my great pleasures as a member of the Boston Symphony is to sit next to trombonist Norman Bolter. Norman is a remarkable musician who has greatly influenced my playing in many ways, particularly as I have worked to find my own personal "voice" in music. We have enjoyed many hundreds of hours of discussion about music and music making as we constantly evaluate our own playing and the impact of the performances going on around us.
In recent years, Norman has turned to composition as an outlet for his creative voice and his music is some of the most evocative, interesting and rewarding I have ever heard. I've been privileged to participate in the premiere of many of his works and I have also been present at many of his concerts to hear other pieces he has written. A concert of Norman's music is more than just an evening of music, it is an event that calls upon those in the hall to delve deep into themselves as they respond to the aural pictures being re-created on stage. The performing ensembles put together for such concerts by Norman and his wife, Carol Viera, known as The "Frequency Band", are notable for the attention their members give to creating an atmosphere for performance that goes far beyond simply technical perfection to an attempt to reconnect with the essense of music itself.
I gave the premiere of Norman's Of Mountains at my Jordan Hall concert of March 31, 1997 (the same concert that included the premiere of David Fetter's Profile and my performance of another of Norman's compositions, Dances of Greeting for trombone and percussion). Norman contracted and conducted the orchestra on that occasion and the piece and performance were very well received. For inclusion in program notes for that evening's music, Norman's wife, Carol Viera, wrote the following:
Of Mountains, Lakes and Trees, a very large work in three movements, features a different solo trombone voice with orchestra in each of its movements. Of Mountains, the first movement of this work, was written in 1996. The bass trombone is the solo voice in Of Mountains.Several months after the Premiere of Of Mountains, Norman planned a concert of his music in Jordan Hall which included the premiere of the complete Of Mountains, Lakes and Trees for bass, tenor and alto trombones. This concert was given on October 19, 1997 with R. Douglas Wright soloist on tenor trombone in Lakes, Scott Hartman playing alto trombone on Trees and myself on Of Mountains. Since that time, Norman has added an epilogue to the work featuring bass trombone; this version will be played in the summer of 1998 by Charles Vernon (playing alto, tenor and bass trombones) with the Brevard Festival Orchestra.
Of Mountains was inspired by the composer's own experience with mountains in the course of his life. As well, in creating this work, the composer drew inspiration from his research of experiences recorded by peoples in many different cultures and religions, especially those describing events which have occurred around or on top of mountains. The beauty, the majesty, the enormity, the haunting feelings...all have come into the writing of Of Mountains. Within this vision, the bass trombone enacts the character, "the inner voice."(This program note by Dr. Carol Viera © Air-ev Productions. Used with permission. All rights reserved.)
As with all of Norman's music, I found myself very affected by Of Mountains. I have a strong connection with the Berkshire Mountains of western Massachusetts where the Boston Symphony's summer home, Tanglewood, is located. Norman's work calls to mind many images and characteristics of mountains from the most violent to the most mysterious, with shadings of character and beauty reflective of that which only nature itself can express.
Norman's music is published by Air-ev Productions. A complete catalog of his published works is available on request, including his many works for trombone solo, trombone duet (tenor/tenor and tenor/bass), trombone trio, brass quartet, brass ensemble, trombone and orchestra, trombone and band, trombone choir, trombone and brass ensemble, as well as trombone methods and texts covering various aspects of trombone playing and musicianship.
Below are the members of The "Frequency Band" Orchestra that so graciously assisted in the peformance of Of Mountains heard on my CD Take 1.
Gregory S. Vitale
David J. Fallo
Lisa M. Lewis
Jennifer Ann Loupe
Darren J. Acosta
Joseph R. DeMarco
Christopher J. DeChiara
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