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International Trombone Festival
University of Iowa
July 11-14, 2018
Festival Web Site
David Fetter: Trombone Tone and the Open “Ah” – What Singing Has Taught Me
During his career as a trombonist in the orchestras in San Antonio, Cleveland and Baltimore, in the US Army Band, and as a teacher at the Peabody Conservatory, David Fetter was not alone in his belief that an open relaxed throat was essential for good trombone tone.
Now in retirement (he left the Baltimore Symphony in 1986) he has been singing, wherein he finds it easier to study the role of the throat in tone production, since the evidence is out front in the sound of the voice. The role of the throat in trombone tone is also evident in the sound produced, but it is obscured some by its filtration through the trombone. Thus, Fetter asks his students to breathe and articulate without the horn to try to sense what the internal machinery is doing when they are actually playing. Listening to the air passing through the Ah, the basic open vowel, can be quite revealing. The greatest danger is excess tension in the throat, vocal chords, windpipe, mouth cavity, jaw, etc. Tone, articulation, breath and posture can all benefit from testing them away from the trombone. Progress can be difficult, as it almost always calls for doing not more, but less.
- David Fetter’s composition Variations on Palestrina’s “Dona Nobis Pacem” for unaccompanied solo trombone, in the version in C, is the required repertoire for the Preliminary Round of the George Roberts Bass Trombone Competition, for ages 20 and under, which will be held as part of the International Trombone Festival at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, Iowa, on July 11-17, 2018 . See trombonefestival.net.
- For competition information see ITF Competitions 2018. The printed music is available from Hickey’s Music Center.
David Fetter has made a two new arrangements for eight-part trombone choir of choral passages in Mahler’s Resurrection Symphony.
The first arrangement is titled Choral Excerpt from the Finale of Symphony No. 2, and is a setting of the hushed initial entry of the chorus, with its assurance of souls rising to a new life. In the full score the passage extends from Rehearsal No. 31 to No. 39 and occurs at around 1:15:00 in YouTube concert performance videos.
Here is an electronic file of Choral Excerpt from the Finale of Mahler’s Symphony No. 2.
The second arrangement, Symphony No. 2 Finale, begins at Rehearsal No. 42 in the full score and continues complete to the work’s powerful close. This passage begins in some YouTube concert videos at around 1:28:00.
Here is an electronic file of the second arrangement, Symphony No. 2 Finale.
The arrangements are available from Hickey’s Music Center.
Choral Excerpt from Finale of Symphony No. 2 Time 5:30 Score and parts $16.00
Symphony No. 2 Finale Time 5:30 Score and parts 18.00
Ron Barron premiered the band version of David Fetter’s Situation Update with The Eagles Community Band in Pittsfield, Massachusetts in November 2016, conducted by Carl Jenkins.
The video opens with narration by William Corby. Movement 1 is at 1:27. Movement 2 is at 4:40 and Movement 3 is at 9:25.
The Eagles Band commissioned Fetter to arrange the piano accompaniment of the work for the concert, which celebrated the Band’s 80th anniversary year.
Situation Update has been published by Cherry Classics.
RON BARRON PERFORMANCE OF SITUATION UPDATE AT PEABODY
Ron Barron, retired Principal Trombone of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, is seen here as he performed David Fetter’s Situation Update with pianist Lior Willinger at the Peabody Conservatory in a master class in September of 2015.
WORLD PREMIRE OF SITUATION UPDATE
Barron presented the world premiere of Situation Update in March 2015 in a solo recital in Richmond, Massachusetts, seen here with pianist Larry Wallach.
At the recital Fetter offered comments about Situation Update.
The first movement, marked Swift, is The Devil’s Swagger as he celebrates the human fouling of planet earth. He would lend us a hand, but we’re doing fine on our own. He can only gloat and strut in agitated envy.
In the second movement, Longing, the human turns inward in reflective and at times passionate meditation. The human finds great comfort and sustenance in its belief that it is the center of the universe. The third movement, Exit Music, is the Devil’s struts in triumph as the humans march off the edge. A poignant art song fills a lull, but it is trampled by more humans.
Eric Ewazen, who took part in Barron’s 2015 concert as pianist in his own Songs of the Sun for trombone and piano, wrote later:
“I had the pleasure of hearing Ron Barron play David Fetter’s exciting and virtuosic new work for trombone and piano, “Situation Update.” David’s music allows the trombonist to sing and soar in 3 contrasting movements filled with vivid colors, beautiful and expressive harmonies, and a wonderful flowing rhythmic energy. The outer movements crackle with energy, showcasing the amazing technique of soloist Ron Barron, as the melodic line shifts and changes with playful abandon, while the middle movement is heartfelt and lyrical, with beautiful melodic lines, supported by resonant, gorgeous harmonies. The work is a real tour de force and rightly deserves to take its place as a significant addition to the trombone repertoire.”
David Fetter was guest conductor of the Trombody Peabones in the Baltimore premiere of his Deep Water for eight-part trombone choir. The concert took place at the Peabody Conservatory earlier this year. The Deep Water performance is on YouTube: