to R: John Marchiando, Jens Lindemann,
David Hickman, Allan Dean, Allen Vizzutti, Terry Sawchuk
The world-renowned large brass ensemble, Summit Brass, was
pleased to once again host the Rafael Méndez Brass Institute,
June 8-14. Named in honor of the legendary Hollywood trumpeter,
the Rafael Méndez Brass Institute is the world's leading
annual performance and career development seminar for brass musicians.
The week-long seminar provided aspiring brass players with many
opportunities to interact with the performing members of the Summit
Brass in daily coachings, masterclasses, career seminars, and concerts.
This year marked the first for the Institute in its new home at
the University of Colorado in Boulder.
Trumpet players participating in the Institute were treated to
a vast wealth of information from some of the finest performers
and teachers in the field. David Hickman kicked off the first masterclass
of the week with a discussion of pedagogical techniques. Hickman
stressed the importance of the developing a balance of the "4 Ps"
(embouchure Pucker, mouthpiece Pressure, tongue Position,
and Push of the air), for creation of a strong embouchure
and good sound. He talked about how lip bend and pedal tone exercises
are very good ways to develop the 4 Ps. Mr. Hickman also introduced
the audience to 'pop tones' and flutter-tonguing as a means for
improving articulation on the trumpet. His clear explanations and
brilliant demonstrations were very helpful to the audience. Terry
Sawchuk, Professor of Trumpet at the University of Colorado, held
a very insightful class on Tuesday. Mr. Sawchuk stressed the importance
of obtaining as much knowledge of the trumpet as possible. He explained
that he gives his students at Colorado lessons on jazz playing,
in which they harmonize scales and jam with tapes. He stressed the
importance of being able to be a "crossover" player, with
the ability to do both classical and jazz well, something that Mr.
Sawchuk certainly has a strong reputation for. Jens Lindemann used
his class time to talk about the importance of playing trumpet in
a loose, relaxed way. He spoke of breathing and playing with the
entire body as a way to aid in that relaxation. Mr. Lindemann then
talked about performing on stage, saying that the player "shouldn't
impose, but instead, should share their performance" with the
audience. A good way to achieve that is to perform from memory,
eliminating that barrier between performer and audience. Allan Dean
spent time talking about branching out into early music, something
that he is certainly known for. He talked about the relationship
of diaphragm and the chops and how being tense in the breathing
can affect how we play. He stressed the importance of keeping the
body in shape, as it can affect how well one is able to breath and
play. Allen Vizzutti stressed to the audience that they should always
strive to create something musical in their playing. "Be sincere,
pick your own direction", he implored. He asked the aspiring
players to cast off the list of reasons why they can't achieve their
goals. In addition to the lectures given at each masterclass, several
students were given the opportunity to play for each of the trumpet
faculty, receiving expert opinions on specific matters of their
The Rafael Méndez Brass Institute also held five career
seminars in which the panelists offered sound advice to participants
of a variety of subjects. Seminar topics included the business of
music, selling CDs, auditions, artist management and writing, commissioning,
arranging, and publishing music.
Of course, the high point of the Institute was the nightly performances.
The Boulder Brass opened the festivities with a concert featuring
music ranging from J. S. Bach to George Gershwin. Trumpeters Bruce
Barrie, Dawn Kramer, Dan Kuehn and Terry Sawchuk performed brilliantly.
Jens Lindemann played both trumpet and euphonium with Sam Pilafian,
Terry Sawchuk gave a strong performance of one of his own compositions,
and Allan Dean jammed with the resident combo on the "Jazz
and Brass" concert. The Denver Brass presented a unique program
of both traditional music for brass and arrangements that included
bagpipes and drummers and steel drums. F. Joseph Docksey, Cami Kidwell-Dodge,
Alan Hood and Roberta Goodall handled the diverse program with ease.
Jens Lindemann appeared on the faculty concert, performing his rendition
of Gershwin's Three Preludes. He then joined Allan Dean,
David Hickman, Terry Sawchuk and Allen Vizzutti to perform Cocktail,
for five trumpets, by Jerome Naulais. A concert featuring the chamber
music of Eric Ewazen offered two works for trumpet. Mandala,
a quintet for flute, clarinet, trumpet, violin and cello featured
Terry Sawchuk with members of the Colorado Symphony, and Allan Dean,
along with Milt Stevens on trombone, performed of one of Ewazen's
newer works, An Elizabethan Songbook. Two concerts featuring
Institute participants offered performances ranging from trumpet
trios to brass octets. The students performed with much excitement
and maturity. The Summit Brass wrapped up the week with a spectacular
performance in Mackey Concert Hall that will be featured on a live
recording to be released on Summit Records. The concert featured
works by composer-in-residence Eric Ewazen, Richard Strauss, J.
S. Bach, Dmitri Shostakovich, and the world premiere performance
of Prism-Shards of Color for Brass and Percussion by Allen
Vizzutti. Vizzutti, trumpet, Larry Zalkind, trombone, Gail Williams,
horn, Daniel Perantoni, tuba, and Brian Bowman, euphonium, were
each featured as soloists in the five-movement work. Other highlights
included a work of Yiddish music for solo horn and brass entitled
Doina Fantasy, featuring Thomas Bacon and a haunting transcription
of the choral piece O Magnum Mysterium by Mortor Lauridsen.
The Summit Brass finished the evening with a toe-tapping encore
of It Don't Mean a Thing If It Ain't Got That Swing.
Performing with the Summit Brass for the 2003 Rafael Méndez
Institute were Allan Dean, David Hickman, Jens Lindemann, John Marchiando,
Terry Sawchuk, and Allen Vizzutti, trumpet; Thomas Bacon, Martin
Hackleman, David Krehbiel, David Pinkow, Gail Williams, horn; Carl
Lenthe, John Lofton, John Neurohr, Matthew Plummer, Bill Stanley,
Milton Stevens and Larry Zalkind, trombone; Brian Bowman, euphonium;
Michael Allen, Daniel Perantoni, and J. Samuel Pilafian, tuba; and
Peter Cooper and Mark Foster, percussion.
Related ITG News stories:
Rafael Méndez Brass Institute
2003, University of Colorado
RMBI 2004 - advance notice for June 2004
(added 28th October 2003)
John Marchiando, Summit Brass Assistant
2003 Rafael Méndez Brass Institute