Monroe Symphony Orchestra: John Williams Spectacular

This weekend the Monroe Symphony Orchestra and Chorus will present an all John Williams concert, featuring music from some of his most well-known film scores. You can see some of the titles in the image at right, and here’s a complete list.williamsprogram

  • Superman March
  • Call of the Champions
  • E.T.: Adventures on Earth
  • Jaws
  • Harry Potter Symphonic Suite
  • Hymn to the Fallen from Saving Private Ryan
  • Raiders March
  • Selections from Star Wars, Episodes 1-6 (Main Title, Duel of the Fates, Across the Stars, Battle of the Heroes, Yoda’s Theme, Imperial March, Throne Room and End Title)

There are lots of great parts for the brass, and especially the horns. Along with many other horn players, I grew up listening to the iconic themes played by the brass in Superman, Star Wars, and E.T., to name a few. This promises to an exciting concert, and I look forward to getting in a great workout! While preparing this music over the last few weeks I gave quite a bit of thought to the endurance factor. A lot of the playing is high, fast, and loud, but with the help of an assistant and the rest of my section I know we’ll make it to the end in good shape. When faced with a challenging program like this one I’ve found it helpful to follow a few basic principles.

  1. Relax, and play with an easy, unforced sound whenever possible. Yes, there will be times when the section really needs to push things dynamically, but when playing accompanying lines it’s much more efficient to lay back and just play with a beautiful sound. In section tuttis there’s no need to be the loudest person – instead go for blend and style. Principal players have to lead by example, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they have to play louder than everyone else. Let the air do the work!
  2. Make use of  an Assistant. I am fortunate to have an assistant on this concert, and the reality is that we’ll be trading off quite a bit. I’ll be playing any solos and the more exposed parts, but my assistant will get plenty of playing on the tutti melodies and accompaniment passages.
  3. Relax mouthpiece pressure in the mid and low range. It probably seems like a no-brainer, but with taxing programs it’s very easy to fall into the trap of using the same amount of pressure in the mid and low range as in the high range. This can be a recipe for disaster when it comes to endurance. Even if you can’t get the mouthpiece off your lips (which you should do as often as possible), you can still relax and regain some blood flow by backing off in the lower range.
  4. Know when to say when. It isn’t a competition, and it isn’t a race. Everyone has a physical limit, and forcing oneself to go beyond that limit can cause serious issues. We only get one set of chops, so it’s best to take care of them!

How do you prepare for chop-busting concerts?

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