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Re: Observations from DC

Postby Rick Denney » Wed Feb 07, 2018 9:54 pm

Fun as always. Missed a few folks who couldn't make it, but hopefully they will find a way to come next year, and won't be sucked in my Gershwin or whatever. But there were lots of folks who did make it, and it was a great pleasure to see them again.

The Army folks are really working hard to keep the workshop strong despite what are plainly some serious budget cuts compared to workshops I attended maybe a decade ago. Their hard work is deeply appreciated. We adult amateurs help make it worthwhile for the vendors to be there, which helps make it worthwhile for the college kids to be there, which helps serve the recruiting objective. But we also benefit enormously.

I agree that the gap between Chinese-made tubas and European-made tubas has really closed. The price difference is closing, too, but that's to be expected.

The Miraphone 496 Hagen was the best Bb horn of the show, bar none, and the price in the mid-8000's was extremely reasonable for that fantastic instrument. The Wessex Grand was a good tuba, and the side-by-side comparison we did with my Holton revealed perhaps more pride of ownership than clarity, but that's the way it goes. The Alex 163 CC that someone mentioned was fun to play, but I didn't have a tuner with me. Ditto the Alex F at Baltimore Brass, which is the first example of those that I really communed with. The Conn rotary tuba was big, and that's about all I can say about it. I could not play a Bb scale up and down at forte without running out of air on that beast. The Martin Mammoth was not designed for human beings, requiring a four-foot right arm with two elbows to work the valves and the water keys without hiring a helper, but oh did it have a mellow sound. Baltimore Brass had a brass St. Petersburg that was actually quite a decent tuba, but it was more expensive than the dang things cost when they were new, and that's not the instrument I would have expected to appreciate over time.

Of the two Wessex C Yorkophones, I rather preferred the 20" bell, so Karl wasn't quite as singular in that view as he suggests.

Mark didn't buy the Piggy. But he should have.

Dillon had a B&S GR55 that I really liked, and I might have thought it the Bb tuba of the show were it not for the two from Miraphone.

There were lots of instruments I did not play, but those are the impressions from what I did play.

Some other observations:

A Sellmansberger Orchestra Grand cup with a Symphony backbore works better on my Hirsbrunner 193 than the Grand backbore. Low F's pop out easier, for example. But the Grand backbore works better for the Holton. So now I have both.

The Elephant Room Symphony included different stuff than usual this year. I did not year the Valkyries even once, but I did hear a lot of Prokofiev and Shostakovich.

The Thursday-night jazz concert was really something. Dave Bandman cut down the Blues to a Latin rock instrumentation, and played a lot of stuff that took me back to a Blood, Sweat and Tears sound. There was a lot of Rich Matteson in his playing, and I simply love the sound of a Hammond B3 into a Leslie loudspeaker even if it was digitally produced. The Saturday-night concert was also a real winner, with some commanding euphonium performances (particularly the de Meij), and a sensitive, lyrical, and masterful performance of the Ellerby Tuba Concerto by Derek Fenstermacher. The Ellerby had enough athletics to demonstrate ability, but it also demanded a lot of plain music-making, which we don't always get to hear in many of the programmed works.

I was really happy to see that the after-concert meet-and-greet sported some live music and a cash bar--welcome additions compared to last year. Now if they could set out some tables and chairs, and bring in catered barbecue (for which I and I bet most others would gladly pay), the difficulty of squeezing off-base dinner between the reading session and the concert would be easier to manage.

Speaking of reading sessions: To my friends (most of whom I don't know) in the Army Band, thank you for all the hard work you guys put into the workshop--it is most appreciated by all of us. But PLEASE let's find a better way to handle the reading sessions. The attendance at those, particularly the Saturday session, was enough to warrant a proper place in the schedule, rather than being squeezed between recitals that run long, rehearsals at unplanned times, and the evening programs that have to start on time. There simply is not room in the audience section of the Minor Studio to have a session without risking injury to instruments. And I know there is new music to be added--to a second folder if that's what works--and I also know that many of us who live locally would be happy to come down and help assemble it.

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Re: Observations from DC

Postby ken k » Sat Feb 10, 2018 6:51 pm

I was only there Saturday, but my favorite part was getting to hear the James Madison U. Brass band.

They were truly exceptional. They played with a style true to the British tradition. They had the British vibrato down. While I am not a big fan of the fast British vibrato, they nailed it. Their Cornet soloists and Euph soloists were very good.
Hard to believe they were college students.

I also enjoyed the Gregson Concerto.

Congrats to the JMU Brass Band.
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Re: Observations from DC

Postby Three Valves » Sun Feb 11, 2018 10:03 am

I liked the group mouthpiece buzz they did for a warmup!!

Just excellent from beginning to end.
Who needs four valves??

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Re: Observations from DC

Postby ken k » Tue Feb 13, 2018 7:11 pm

ken k wrote:I was only there Saturday, but my favorite part was getting to hear the James Madison U. Brass band.

They were truly exceptional. They played with a style true to the British tradition. They had the British vibrato down. While I am not a big fan of the fast British vibrato, they nailed it. Their Cornet soloists and Euph soloists were very good.
Hard to believe they were college students.

I also enjoyed the Gregson Concerto.

Congrats to the JMU Brass Band.


Also a number of their members were featured within the pieces they played and the soloists very excellent.
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Re: Observations from DC

Postby jeopardymaster » Tue Feb 13, 2018 10:33 pm

Did the Wessex Anton make an appearance? I'm curious what the reaction has been to that one.
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Re: Observations from DC

Postby Mark Finley » Tue Feb 13, 2018 11:42 pm

jeopardymaster wrote:Did the Wessex Anton make an appearance? I'm curious what the reaction has been to that one.



Very nice tuba. I played one at ITEC, but I didn't play one in DC, but I'll see it again on Thursday and I'll give it another go
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Re: Observations from DC

Postby Wyvern » Tue Feb 13, 2018 11:52 pm

jeopardymaster wrote:Did the Wessex Anton make an appearance? I'm curious what the reaction has been to that one.

The Anton was at DC, but only a few people tried. I see a tendency for most people to prefer piston over rotary valve tubas, at least in the US
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Re: Observations from DC

Postby Mark Finley » Wed Feb 14, 2018 12:06 am

Wyvern wrote:
jeopardymaster wrote:Did the Wessex Anton make an appearance? I'm curious what the reaction has been to that one.

The Anton was at DC, but only a few people tried. I see a tendency for most people to prefer piston over rotary valve tubas, at least in the US



Well that's not my preference, but I'll admit not playing the Anton because I already did that during the summer of 2016, and there were newer models to try.

I'll correct my oversight on Thursday
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