It's been a very exciting and demanding few weeks with concerts and masterclasses in Austria and Italy. The Bliss performance with the Stadtmusikkappelle Wilten in the Hofburg Innsbruck was for sure a night I will not forget. As part of the highly popular Promenade Concert Series, featuring bands from all over Austria, Germany and Italy, this was an evening we'd all looked forward to some time. It is indeed a quite extraordinarily successful festival with massive support from music lovers, tourists, band supporters, and local folk. It is very dependant on the weather of course, and on thursday evening, after a long days masterclass at the Grillhof Education Centre in Innbruck, I went to listen to the BrassBand of Upper Austria. This was a fine concert but enjoyed from under umbrellas, the weather was very unkind that night. On the Saturday evening, it was my concert and after a day full of sunshine we looked with real trepidation at the gathering clouds at 6.30pm. It rained quite heavily from 7pm till 7.28pm !! After this the umbrellas were folded up and the skies cleared, as the capacity audience could then enjoy the music. It all went very well indeed. To get a flavour here are some photos and two links to videos , one of which is a 'highlights' video of the concert including some excerpts from Bliss (Hermann Pallhuber) and Nessun Dorma. You'll have to to excuse some lack of synchronisation between music and video here, and the second one is of the complete Nessun Dorma I played as the final encore in the concert.
In the days before this concert I gave a two day masterclass for 6 euphonium players from the Tirol. Although some of them are usually trombone players, I was very impressed with their love for the euphonium and they worked very hard. We looked at all aspects of euphonium technique, daily routines, tone production and quality, valve technique and studies a range of orchestral excerpts as well as solo playing. I want to say a big thank you to Hermann Pallhuber whose brainchild this masterclass was, and to all the highly professional staff at the Grillhof, Innsbruck. This building is a centre for course of intensive study and there was also a summer course for wind orchestra here at the same time which made for a great interaction of young musicians and teachers for the whole week.
My students played a few pieces in the final concert of the wind orchestra, and did a very fine job indeed.
From there I went to Sicily to play three concerts with the Messina Brass Band, fresh from their appearance at the B Section of the European Brass Band Championships. Photos are available here with this link :
We had concerts in Toarmina, Giardini Naxos and Gela. There was a lot of travelling between venues and my hotel in Milazzo but still, it was an enjoyable few days. Especially, it was a treat to play a duet (Fast Finger Fandango - Bruce Fraser) in each concert with an old friend Giovanni Cascone, probably the best euphonium player on the island of Sicily.
Each of the outdoor concerts used amplification..and honestly, the less said about this aspect the better !!
Many Sicilian brass players and students visited the concerts and it was great to meet them and chat, (as much as my Italian would allow!)
I'd like to say once again a big thank you to Besson for their support of my visit to Sicily. The Messina Brass recently purchased two brand new Besson Prestige Euphoniums and of course, they sounded magnificent !