Tuesday 2nd July – 14.00
Master Class / Presentation
French Trumpet Literature
Gary Mortenson, Reporter
One of the leading trumpet teachers in all of France, professor Guy Touvron endeared himself to the completely packed room by overcoming his fear of speaking English. His difficulties with the English language were minimal, and the audience was completely in his court helping him when he needed some help with a word or a phrase.
Touvrons session was in three parts. The first was a translation of a speech he had given at an earlier conference in France, and dealt with his perceptions of art and beauty. It was obvious to all throughout the session that professor Touvrons life revolves around his passion for music. At one point he stated that music leads my life and this will be so until my last breath. He went on to say that music is universal (without borders), timeless (transcends the age), and that music has the power to get us through the rough times we all experience over the course of a lifetime. He made the distinction between art that is pretty, (seductive, enslaving, superficial), and art that is beautiful, (from the soul, transcendental, from inside).
In the second part of his master class Touvron spoke specifically about playing the trumpet and striving for the beauty he described in part one. He stated that on stage you are never alone. There are at least three things going on that should keep your mind active. There is the melody you create, the harmony which you hear, and the rhythm which you feel. He related a fascinating story regarding the Honegger Intrada. At one point in his career he felt that he did not have the endurance required to play the piece. As a challenge, however, he scheduled the work to be performed on a recital tour with more than 30 planned dates. The strategy he developed to allow him to overcome endurance considerations was to mentally see various images as the work unfolded. In the beginning he imagined a huge door to a castle opening, as he entered the castle he began to see the flags in the hall. Eventually the Queen appears, and later there are some clowns dancing. By using all of these images Touvron was able to successfully take his mind off of the difficult endurance demands and to imagine his way through the music. This allowed him to gain the power required so that he could successfully perform the music, get over his nerves, and get past the notes!
Touvron stated that beyond all other considerations sound is the highest priority when pursuing beauty on trumpet. He urged students to find there own personal sound and pointed out that all great players are easily identified by the unique and unmistakable quality of their sound. He outlined four elements in the creation of sound. These included the commencement of sound, the quality of sound (play long tones), intonation, and evenness in all registers.
The final part of his master class brought two students to the front to perform. They were accompanied by John Wilson, senior staff accompanist at RCNM. The first student was Joel Cooper (17 years old) who studies with Gareth Small at the Cheetham School in Manchester. Joel performed Andante et Scherzo by Henri Busser. Touvron commented favorably on his tone and articulation, and worked with him on phrasing and intonation. The second student was Danielle Koplinka-Lehr (15 years old) from Ithaca, New York, a student of Jane Dunnick. Danielle performed the slow opening from Troisieme Solo De Concours by Fernand Andreieu. Touvron praised her poise and musicality, and worked with her on flow, musicality, and articulation. It was truly amazing to see how quickly Touvron found common ground with each of the students, and how effectively he worked from a positive, caring mind-set to help these young students improve, and to keep their feelings about music enthusiastic.