Thursday 4th July - 14.00
Lord Rhodes Recital Room
The Scottish Consort of Trumpets
Bryan Allen, Alison Balsom, Peter Franks, John Gracie,
Mark OKeeffe, John Wallace
Jon Burgess, Reporter
The Scottish Consort of Trumpets (SCOT as they prefer to be known) was assembled especially for the 2002 ITG Conference to demonstrate the talented faculty and students at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama (RSAMD). The program featured works from one to six trumpets, written exclusively by living Scottish composers who have taught at the RSAMD.
The program began with Mark O'Keeffe (Principal trumpet, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and research student, RSAMD) strolling in from the back of the hall playing "The Trumpet Shall Sound" from the Messiah. The familiar tune gradually turned into a series of frantic trumpet screams and runs.
Mark O'Keeffe began taking shots of strategically placed bottles of whiskey and hard liquors on stage to help him make it through the next selection. Etude d'Execution Transcendante, a theatre piece, by John Maxwell-Geddes required not only virtuosic playing but creative acting skills. It ends with OKeeffe falling to the floor drunk, as the program segued into Orbit by Eddie Maguire performed by John Wallace (Principal trumpet of the RSAMD) and Alison Balsom (trumpet soloist and research student, RSAMD). Orbit requires both players to spin around while playing. As the piece develops the musical lines intertwine and revolve around each other. The work ended with John Wallace exiting from the front of the stage and Alison Balsom walking through the audience and exiting from the back of the stage.
Immediately a trio comprised of John Gracie (principal trumpet, Royal Scottish National Orchestra and trumpet professor, RSAMD), Peter Franks (principal trumpet, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, trumpet professor, RSAMD), and Bryan Allen (former member, Fine Arts Brass Ensemble, and head of brass, RSAMD) performed the Four Basilican Pieces by John Maxwell Geddes from the rear balcony of the recital hall. The heroic calls of the trumpet could be heard throughout this piece. Interesting textures and harmonies were created from the three trumpets.
John Wallace returned to stage and gave a brief, humorous history of the trumpet in Scotland, making it clear that the trumpet in Scotland has a longer history than the bagpipes. Next on the program was Quartet for Trumpets by Tom David Wilson, who was present in the audience for this performance. Quartet featured a wide range of textures and harmonies ranging from random sounding lines to beautiful choral-type passages. By now it became clear that with each new piece one more trumpeter was being added. The Joshua Sketch by Gordon MacPherson (head of composition, RSAMD) was a world premiere written for the SCOT specifically for their recital at the ITG Conference. This was truly a complex piece that required great rhythmic and technical skills from every member of the ensemble.
The final work on the program was Concertino for 6 Trumpets and Timpani by Martin Dalby. Written in seven short movements, this was a fitting piece to end the program; not only because they were running out of ensemble members, but because the composition provided a wide variety of styles and colours for this ensemble to demonstrate their talents.
It is hoped that SCOT will continue performing together long beyond the 2002 ITG Conference. This ensemble played as if they had been performing together for years and although there was only one true premiere I believe most of the audience in attendance were hearing most, if not all, of these pieces for the first time.