At the end of June I attended ITEC 2012 (the International Tuba and Euphonium Conference) held in Linz, Upper Austria. I received 6 performances of my euphonium and tuba music during the conference, and I headed out to Linz to hear three of the performances.
It is a little bit of a pain to get to Linz from Manchester – it involves a layover in a German city (Frankfurt for me – is it the world’s most disorganised airport?) but flying over with Gary Curtin, who was giving his first ITEC recital on the Thursday, made the journey more pleasant and also eased the sense of panic when trying to get our connection at Frankfurt (a panic shared is a panic halved?).
By the time I had arrived on the Tuesday afternoon I had already received three performances: the RNCM Euphonium Ensemble performed Funk Theory, Glenn Van Looy included Elegie in his program and Dave Childs programmed Sparta in his recital. So I figured that once I’d checked in that the best thing to do was to head to the hall and see what was going on. It was a plan that so nearly worked, but instead of turning left and going in to the hall, I turned right and headed to the Arcotel bar where I bumped in to some old friends (see photo). It turned out to be a bar I would get to know very well…!
On Wednesday, Marco Schneider (who the piece was written for) gave the second performance of my 2nd concerto for euphonium, Origins, with the Military Wind Orchestra Upper Austria conducted by Harald Haselmayr. Marco played brilliantly, and am really looking forward to the next European performance in Lucerne at my favourite concert hall in the world, the KKL.
Thursday saw two performances by my good friend, and incredible tuba soloist, Les Neish. In the morning he gave a recital performance of Floating Dreams, which he asked me to introduce. As I was talking it occurred to me that I had only heard the piece live once before, and that time it was played by my (now) wife, and later that day I proposed to her, so was unsure if I would be down on one knee in front of Les in the Arcotel later that night!
Thursday afternoon saw Les perform Shine (again, which was written for him) – and what a performance! Not exactly the easiest of works for tuba (!) he gave a stunning rendition, accompanied by the brilliant James Madison University Brass Band, conducted by Kevin Stees. Kevin runs a great program out in the States, and his band had to get to grip with some very, very tough music – but it all seemed seamless to them such was the ease that they performed.
The same, of course, could be said for Les – when you are such good friends with people you forget just how incredible a player they are, and maybe the best compliment that I can give to Les is that I don’t think of him as one of the leading tuba players in the world, I think of him as one of the leading musicians.
After I arrived back in Manchester (via a stupidly long delay in Frankfurt) Les rang me with the excellent news that he had won the 2012 Roger Bobo Awards for Excellence in Recording in the Solo Classical Tuba category for Shine – which features the concerto I wrote for him as well as Floating Dreams. The icing on the cake is that the CD was conducted by Dave Thornton (apart from one track where Dave and Les recorded a duet in memory of the much missed Carl Richardson, conducted by his lifelong best friend Mark Bousie).
The event was a huge sucess in every way (and it was nice of the weather to show up too!)- congratulations to the festival’s Artistic Director, Steve Mead.