Pre-Homecoming Week Brings Back Memories…

…but not about what you may think.

Sure, I’ve got tons of memories racing through my head about the last 20 years here at UD.  But today I came across a post by Brian Balmages.  It contained a link to a YouTube video Roger Blackburn uploaded.  It was of the Philadelphia Brass Ensemble from 1969. This video clip brought back a flood of memories…so incredibly strong that I ended up breaking out the horn for about 30 minutes this afternoon.

Seeing Seymour Rosenfeld playing second trumpet…well that, coupled with the music on the clip–both tunes I have played an infinite amount of times–brought me back briefly to my days at Temple University, but most of all, to my days as a grad student at UMASS.  One day I was an undergraduate finishing my degree in music education and the next day I was a graduate student beginning my master’s in trumpet performance.  One of the main responsibilities: member of the Faculty Brass Quintet. Playing 2nd trumpet to Walter Chesnut, with Laura Klock on horn, David Sporny on trombone, and George Parks on tuba…..absolutely no pressure folks–NOT!  No room for error.  No excuse for not knowing every single note on your page better than you know your own name. My mantra: “Keep up with Mr C because he is going to push me and Laura will never forgive me….and George, he’ll help bandage my wounds on the walk to the parking lot.”

But there were very few wounds–it was perhaps the greatest lesson I ever had about responsibility, demand, commitment, and team work all rolled into one.  Two years of gigging with four of the greatest!  The Graduation folder—filled with all the standard brass quintet literature that we played at almost all commencements held at Amherst College, Mt. Holyoke, and Smith.  All of us piled in a van, Walter behind the wheel with George sound asleep next to me as I talked with Dave Sporny about who knows what.  Talk about a true “clown car!”

Music–one of the most powerful vehicles for memory and emotional stimulation. Listening to Gil Johnson and Seymour Rosenfeld and the rest of the PBE played Gabrieli’s “Canzona per Sonare No. 2” (a tune so many of us played together while in college) instantly transported me back to a time when, in many ways, life was simple.

So yes, I broke out the old trumpet.  I haven’t played since fall 2009. I expected nothing. I experienced the world.  Endurance is gone but tone, technique and flexibility–all present and accounted for.  As I played through some etudes (Bousquet and Vantelbosch) and literature (Kaminsky’s Concerto and Clark’s “The Southern Cross”….yes, I even landed the high Eb in the opening cadenza) I couldn’t help but hear Walter Chesnut saying “Air!” “Place that one IN the bell.” “Is that really the articulation?” “SING!”  …and all of those things so many of us heard in all our lessons were accompanied by the mental image of a man who would sit and beam when you played like an angel.

I took those days for granted…what I wouldn’t give to play “Die Banklesangleider” with them once again….

(left to right)  Laura Klock, George Parks, Jeff Holmes, Walter Chesnut, David Sporny

(left to right) Laura Klock, George Parks, Jeff Holmes, Walter Chesnut, David Sporny