Conference Report: 2014 International Women’s Brass Conference

bbb_iwbcAfter a 1600 mile round trip, we returned to Louisiana early yesterday morning from the 2014 International Women’s Brass Conference, hosted by Dr. Raquel Rodriguez at Northern Kentucky University. Our performance went well, and overall it was a great experience. For more details on our program – Music for Brass Trio by Women Composers – see this link. A big Thank You! and Bravo! are in order for co-hosts Raquel Rodriguez and Karen Koner. They put together a wonderful event. Because of our travel schedule and some other prior commitments, we were only able to attend a few days of the conference, but from what we observed everything ran smoothly and efficiently. Rehearsal space at conferences like this one are always at a premium, but we were allowed access to a large room complete with an organ (which we needed to perform Libby Larsen’s trio). We also had plenty of time for a sound check in the performance space, which is not always possible. After our performance we got some great feedback from audience members, including composer Dr. Lauren Bernofsky, who composed the final work on our program. It is always a special experience for the performers when the composer is in attendance, and we were honored that Dr. Bernofsky could be there. If you don’t know this very substantial work for brass trio, you can listen to it on this recording by the University of Maryland Brass Trio.

Although our time at NKU was limited, I did have a chance to check out the exhibit hall and speak with Dr. Randall Faust, Professor of Horn at Western Illinois University and owner of Faust Music. I have been slowly acquiring the horn-related publications in their library, and they are all highly recommended. On this trip I bought both volumes of The Advancing Hornist,written by Marvin Howe and edited by Randall Faust. Marvin Howe taught for many years at Eastern Michigan University and at Interlochen National Music Camp. While familiar with his name, I don’t know many details of his pedagogy, and am looking forward to working with these two books. I also got a chance to catch up with Dr. Stacie Mickens, Assistant Professor of Horn at Youngstown State University. Stacie and I have known each other since 2002 when we started our master’s degrees at the University of Wisconsin. She is doing some great things at YSU, and we hope to have her visit ULM soon for a recital and masterclass.

While I would have liked to attend more of the performances at IWBC, the ones I did make it to were excellent. Two that stand out in my mind were a performance of Ann Callaway’s Four Elements for Horn and Piano by Dr. Katie Johnson, Assistant Professor of Horn at the University of Tennessee, and a recital by Ava Ordman, Associate Professor of Trombone at Michigan State University. Sadly, we did not make it to the conference in time to hear Elizabeth Freimuth‘s recital (Principal Horn, Cincinnati Symphony), but we did get tickets to hear the Cincinnati Pops present a very brass heavy concert. I was familiar with this group through their numerous recordings with Erich Kunzel on the Telarc label, and they did not disappoint! Works on the program included Shostakovich’s Festive Overture, Finale from Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite, Montagues and Capulets from Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet, Pines of the Appian Way from Respighi’s The Pines of Rome, and many more. Elizabeth Freimuth sounded fantastic, as did the rest of the horns and brass.

The 2014 International Women’s Brass Conference was a terrific event, and I highly recommend it to brass players of all levels. The site for the next IWBC in 2016 hasn’t been announced yet, but when it is be sure to check out their website for more details.

As usual, I’ll be taking some time off from writing blog posts, but will be working on some other projects as well as spending time with friends and family. Best wishes to everyone for a fun, safe, and productive summer!


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