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Performance and Pedagogy Blog

A blog about the performance and pedagogy of music.

Filtering by Tag: Opera

The Brass Junkies 73: Weston Sprott, Trombonist for the Metropolitan Opera

Andrew Hitz

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This was one of my favorite episodes we've ever done of The Brass Junkies. Weston Sprott, Acting Principal Trombone of the Metropolitan Opera, is as thoughtful a human being as you will ever find. We talked about his incredible career and also went into the diversity issues still facing the industry today. A lot of food for thought.

And the story of him running into one of his heroes, Wynton Marsalis, on the streets of New York City and what went down is worth the whole download!

From the show notes:

TBJ73: Trombonist Weston Sprott on Performing with the Metropolitan Opera, the Diversity Issues Facing the Industry and Running Into One of His Heroes on the Streets of New York

Weston Sprott is the Acting Principal Trombone of the Metropolitan Opera and has appeared with major orchestras all over the world.

In this episode, we cover:

  • His gig
  • What the best subs have in common
  • Coming up in TX
  • Teaching
  • Best student characteristics- “They do what I tell them to do”
  • The acidic, dry and awesome John Rojak
  • His website and resources
  • Diversity issues in classical music
  • Meeting Wynton Marsalis
  • The McGurk Effect
  • The Sphinx Organization

You can check out the complete show notes including all links mentioned during this episode over at Pedal Note Media.

Can You Fill In With Only Five Minutes Warning?

Andrew Hitz

Filed under *always* be ready. From the Washington Post:

NEW YORK — Francesco Anile got to make his Metropolitan Opera debut in a T-shirt, blue jeans and sneakers. With 5 minutes notice.

The 54-year-old Italian tenor was in the green room during the last act of Saturday’s performance of Verdi’s “Otello,” which was being broadcast on radio throughout the world, when he was told by a stage director that Latvian tenor Aleksandrs Antonenko was sick and unable to sing the title role in the fourth act.

Five minutes warning to take the stage as the star of the opera. With the Metropolitan Opera. Wearing blue jeans and sneakers. You can't make this stuff up.

You always have to be ready for the call. You might never get a second one.

In fact, just last week I was able to attend the dress rehearsal of the Washington National Opera's production of Siegfried. The understudy had to fill in for Brünnhilde because the soprano playing that role twisted her ankle badly during a scene in the Die Walküre dress rehearsal.

The understudy filled in with just a few minutes notice during the Die Walküre rehearsal and sang the entire role in the Siegfried dress. You just never know when your number is going to come up.

I got a call at my apartment in Tempe, Arizona at around 9:00 pm on a Tuesday back in January of 2000. It was the Boston Brass asking if I could sub for them in an emergency situation. At 5:00 am the next morning I was checking in for a flight to Colorado. I proceeded to play with them for 14 years.

You never know when the call is coming. Are you ready?

Here's the full article from the Washington Post.

EDIT: My friend James Hicks, Principal Tuba in the Navy Band, read this and posted this as a comment on my Facebook page:

"I was once teaching lessons in the northwest Chicago suburbs and got a call from Gene (Pokorny of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra) at 10am to come in and play Till (Eulenspiegel) on the 3pm matinee that afternoon. Also, got called one Sunday morning at 11am to drive up to Milwaukee to sightread a John Williams program with MSO on a 3pm matinee. You never know...."

You truly never know!

Maria Callas: Monday YouTube Fix

Andrew Hitz

As I have written on this blog over and over again, all instrumentalists are simply trying to sound like singers.

Maria Callas was an American-born Greek soprano who lived from 1923-1977. She is one of the all-time greats. If you are not familiar with her work you are in for treat.

Here is a great collection of 12 arias featuring the music of Verdi, Puccini, Donizetti and more. Here is the full list of arias performed:

UNA VOCE POCO FA • Gioacchino Rossini "Il Barbiere Di Siviglia" 
ADDIO DEL PASSATO • Giuseppe Verdi "La Traviata" ( 06:48 )
CASTA DIVA • Vincenzo Bellini "Norma" ( 10:15 )
UN BEL DÌ VEDREMO • Giacomo Puccini "Madama Butterfly" ( 17:29 )
PACE, PACE MIO DIO • Giuseppe Verdi "La Forza Del Destino" ( 21:59 )
EBBEN NE ANDRÒ LONTANA • Alfredo Catalani "La Wally" ( 28:24 )
O MIO BABBINO CARO • Giacomo Puccini "Gianni Schicchi" ( 33:12 )
O MADRE MIA • Amilcare Ponchielli "La Gioconda" ( 35:44 )
QUANDO, RAPITO IN ESTASI • Gaetano Donizetti "Lucia Di Lammermoor" ( 37:37 )
TACEA LA NOTTE PLACIDA • Giuseppe Verdi "Il Trovatore" ( 42:37 )
SPARGI D'AMARO PIANTO • Gaetano Donizetti "Lucia di Lammermoor" ( 48:46 )
GIASON! DEI TUOI FIGLI LA MADRE • Luigi Cherubini "Medea" ( 52:56 )

Enjoy!