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Performance and Pedagogy Blog

A blog about the performance and pedagogy of music.

Filtering by Tag: New York Philharmonic

The Brass Junkies: Colin Williams of the New York Philharmonic

Andrew Hitz

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I had the pleasure of interviewing an old friend recently in Colin Williams. Colin is the Associate Principal Trombone of the New York Philharmonic and was my section mate many, many years ago in the Greater Boston Youth Symphony Orchestra.

Colin's career has brought him from the San Antonio Symphony to the Atlanta Symphony and most recently to his current employer, the New York Philharmonic. His approach to trombone playing and to music in general is fantastic and he has an incredible way with words.

But the truly stunning part of his story is the playing related injury he suffered and his recovery from that. He is incredibly generous and forthcoming about this aspect of his career and it is one of the most inspirational tales you will ever hear in the music business.

It took him five years to be fully recovered and he had to completely relearn how to play the trombone. Oh and for what it's worth he won the New York Philharmonic audition during that five year recovery process!

Seriously, you have to hear this story. It will convince you that no matter you are facing, you can overcome it. Thank you Colin for being so open about your journey!

And he tells a pretty hilarious story of me being a jackass in youth orchestra that you'll have no trouble believing.

Links:

Colin's Page at NY Phil 

You can help offset the costs of producing the show by making a small donation at https://www.patreon.com/thebrassjunkies. Your support is greatly appreciated!

Produced by Austin Boyer of FredBrass.


Canadian Brass, Boston Symphony and New York Philharmonic: Monday YouTube Fix

Andrew Hitz

In 1989, the Canadian Brass were joined by the principal players of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the New York Philharmonic for a series of legendary concerts.

I was lucky enough to see this concert when it came to Tanglewood in July of 1989. It was a day that changed my life.

I had recently earned the rank of Eagle Scout in the Boy Scouts. As a part of becoming an Eagle Scout, you get to spend the day with someone who is working in the field you hope to pursue. Upon receiving the request, Chester Schmitz, the tuba player of the BSO, agreed to let me tag along for a day.

Imagine my elation as a 14-year-old when the day he suggested was the Brass Spectacular concert at Tanglewood that would involve the likes of Phil Smith, Joe Alessi, Chuck Dallenbach, Fred Mills, etc! I can still remember getting the phone call from him. I almost dropped the phone.

He very graciously introduced me to almost every one of the players in this video as if he had known me for years. It really was one of those experiences for a young boy that vaulted me forward with enthusiasm for music.

Chester and I have remained friends to this day. I could never repay him for how kind he was to me that day over 25 years ago.

I didn't know this video existed and am ecstatic to be able to witness this lineup again. This is as good as it gets.

Enjoy!


The Brass Junkies: Joe Alessi of the New York Philharmonic - Episode 12

Andrew Hitz

Listen via

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This guy doesn't exactly need an introduction! Joe Alessi is the Principal Trombone of the New York Philharmonic and one of the world's great players and pedagogues. We caught up with him when he was in Vail with the Philharmonic and talked to him about a lot of stuff. The connection was pretty rough but the stuff he was sharing was gold so we released it anyways.

The times I've gotten to play with Joe have been some of my career highlights. You can learn more from sitting next to this guy for one concert than you can from a four-year college degree. It was great to have him on the show!

Want to help the show? Take a minute to leave us a rating and a review on iTunes.

You can help offset the costs of producing the show by making a small donation at https://www.patreon.com/thebrassjunkies. Your support is greatly appreciated!

Produced by Austin Boyer and Buddy Deshler of FredBrass

Two Quotes to Help You Get to the Next Level

Andrew Hitz

"Knowing your strengths and weaknesses is a strength."
-Ranaan Meyer
"You need to be brutally honest with yourself about what you can and can't do on the horn."
-Joe Alessi

Honest appraisal of one's abilities is the first step in improving any skill.  The key is constantly practicing both the things you can do and the things you can't do so your assessment of your own abilities is not out of date.

Do you have an accurate assessment of your strengths and weaknesses today?

Phil Smith Sums Up Playing Music

Andrew Hitz

"Music is not just the black dots on the white paper - it's what happens when those black dots on the white paper go into your heart, and come out again." - Phil Smith  (Principal Trumpet, New York Philharmonic)

Thankfully this is true.  If not, he would be the only orchestral trumpet player working today.  Sam Pilafian would be the only employed brass quintet tuba player.  Renée Fleming would be the only working soprano.

© 2009 Andrew Hitz

Playing all of the right notes and right rhythms is very important, but conveying your opinions and your emotions through those notes and rhythms is what will get you and keep you employed.  Everyone has their own life experiences which is why there is always room for another great storyteller, no matter what the instrument, in the music business.

No one in your audience was there for your happiest moment, your saddest moment or your scariest moment.  These experiences are what we rely on when those black dots on the white paper go into and out of our hearts and into the ears of our audience.

 

Are You Ready for the Call?

Andrew Hitz

Today I was a member of a panel discussion with fellow faculty members from George Mason as part of a workshop in Prince William County, Virginia.  It was great for me to get to know the stories of some of my colleagues a little better.  There was one anecdote in particular that left a lasting impression. Dr. Lorrie Berkshire Brown is our Woodwind Area Coordinator and Oboe Professor at Mason.  I have played with her in the American Festival Pops Orchestra and instantly noticed her fantastic playing.  Until today I didn't realize she subbed with the New York Philharmonic for seven years before fully committing to the DC area as a member of The United States Army Band, “Pershing’s Own.”  The story of how she got to play with the Philharmonic the first time is not atypical but still a great reminder for us all.

Are you ready?

One afternoon in 1988, Lorrie got a phone call at 4:00 pm asking if she was available to play with the New York Philharmonic that night.  They needed a second oboe for the Dvorak Cello Concerto, which she described as "the mother of all second oboe parts." She not only said yes, but it obviously went very well since she played with them for another seven years.

While it took a little bit of being in the right place at the right time (she was home and took the call), the important thing is that she was ready for the call.  She not only took the call but was ready with basically no warning whatsoever to go and nail one of the difficult parts in the orchestral oboe repertoire.  She got an opportunity and made the most of it.

Are you ready for the call?

Monday YouTube Fix: New York Philharmonic/Kurt Masur - Schumann Symphony No. 3

Andrew Hitz

This is such a great clip. The trombone section, lead by Joe Alessi, makes this seems so easy and effortless. But anyone familiar with this movement realize that it is anything but easy. I love the close-up of Joe at the most difficult point of the excerpt.  He looks so relaxed that you wonder if he was about to fall asleep.  Just another day at the office for the best trombone player on the planet.  Good stuff.

Enjoy!

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lZbc63pN7ZE]

Monday YouTube Fix: Leonard Bernstein/New York Philharmonic

Andrew Hitz

Clips like this one are why the internet was invented.  YouTube is just a mind-blowing musical resource.  It really is amazing how many clips like this one are out there. I attended my first concert of the season at Tanglewood yesterday.  Every time I am there I am reminded of Leonard Bernstein.  I've never seen a conductor command an audience and an ensemble as well as he did.  He was a truly gifted musician and communicator.

This is the final movement of Shostakovich 5 recording live by the New York Philharmonic in 1979.  What an incredible performance.  The intensity on Bernstein's face at the end of this clip is both amazing and genuine.  Thank goodness we have performances from the past like this one on video.  There's so much to learn from them.

Enjoy!

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YarFI7r2shY&feature=youtube_gdata_player]

Monday YouTube Fix: Stanley Drucker

Andrew Hitz

I realized that the woodwinds have been severely underrepresented in my Monday YouTube Fix so I figure there's no better place to start than with Stanley Drucker.  Mr. Drucker was a clarinetist with the New York Philharmonic for 61 years! No that is not a typo.  49 of those years were as the principal.  It is hard to imagine that I first heard him play with the Philharmonic 21 years ago and he had been playing in the orchestra at that time for 43 years! This is a wonderful performance of the Weber Concertino for Clarinet and Orchestra.  He sure makes that instrument sound easy.

Enjoy!

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SR9oxnm66bY]