Low brass festival to resonate at Brandon University

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Brandon University’s Aaron Wilson.

Call it classic heavy metal: tuba, euphonium and trombone music, with their distinctive deep baritone and bass notes. And it’s even better when you get a bunch of low brass together.

That is exactly what will happen this Saturday, Jan. 27, during the third annual Brandon University Low Brass Festival, or BULBFest, at the BU School of Music.

The festival, organized by BU low brass professor Dr. Aaron Wilson, will bring together between 75–100 people for a day of concerts, master classes and ensembles. Several groups are coming to BU from out of town, including ensembles from the University of North Dakota, the University of Regina, and the University of New Mexico. The Manitoba Trombone Collective, a trombone choir based in Winnipeg, will also be joining.

“Our guest artists this year are the legendary trombonist Al Kay and the professor of tuba/euphonium at University of New Mexico, Dr. Richard White. Both of these guys are tremendous performers and teachers,” said Dr. Wilson. “We are extremely excited to be able to bring them out to Brandon to work with everybody. Although we are fortunate that so many great musical artists come through Western Manitoba, great brass players are always a treat.”

Many school groups and bands will be taking advantage of the visiting performers at BULBFest.

“Area band directors have all been very supportive of this event and all of our events in the past,” Dr. Wilson said. “We already have several students from the local schools who are planning to attend and the festival will include a few performances from Crocus Plains, Neelin, and Vincent Massey band students. I encourage everyone to bring their instrument for the huge mass festival choir.”

Admission to BULBFest is $10 and includes lunch.

Al Kay is a featured performer in the evening concert.

In the evening, the public is invited to a festival concert featuring Kay as well as several trombonists from the province.

“His set will be mainly jazz, but the audience will also get to listen to some massive low brass choir performances from our festival participants,” Dr. Wilson said. “The concert is at 7:30 p.m., but show up at 7 p.m. to hear jazz combos from Vincent Massey and Crocus Plains/Neelin perform on the Lorne Watson stage.”

Admission to the evening concert is free for festival registrants or $10 for the general public, and is payable at the door.

“This is just the latest incredible performance to take the stage here in Brandon. It’s a wonderful opportunity for our students, and for the musical community, and we’re thrilled to share it with music lovers around Westman,” said Greg Gatien, Dean of the BU School of Music. “Including our talented faculty and student recitals, lectures, and workshops plus the many visiting artists and scholars, we have rich and diverse offerings that compare favourably to cities many times our size.”

The BU Low Brass Festival gratefully acknowledges support from sponsors Yamaha, St. John’s Music, Brandon University, and the festival’s main sponsor, the Whitehead Foundation.

Featured Clinicians and Performers:

Mr. Alastair Kay

Humber College (retired)

Alastair Kay, recently retired as Head of Brass at Humber College is busy as a clinician, arranger, composer, and a virtuosic jazz and classical soloist. He has recorded and/or performed with hundreds of the very best artists and entertainers such as True North Brass, Ella Fitzgerald, Rob McConnell and the Boss Brass, Barbra Streisand, Diana Krall, Tony Bennet, Guido Basso, Aretha Franklin, Maria Schneider, Frank Sinatra, Warren Vache, Slide Hampton, Lighthouse, Bill Watrous, Wayne Bergeron, and All Star Brass. Al performs regularly with the bands of John MacLeod, Roberto Occhipinti, Hilario Duran, Lighthouse, Kirk MacDonald, Brian Dickinson, and his own 5 and 10 trombone jazz ensembles. He has been a feature performer across Canada with the leading orchestras of Toronto, Calgary, Winnipeg, and Vancouver, toured seven seasons with the Royal Winnipeg Ballet Orchestra, and performed with dozens of brass bands, concert bands, big bands, and jazz ensembles. Al travels regularly to Calgary area to do brass and jazz workshops, concerts with Prime Time Bigband, the Yamaha Order of Canada Big Band, perform and teach at the Banff Centre, and adjudicate local music festivals. Al has played for most of the musicals in Toronto for the past 40 years including “Sousatzka”, “Newsies”, “Mary Poppins”, “Come Fly Away”, “Cats”, “Dirty Dancing”, “Lord Of The Rings”, “The Producers”, and “The Lion King”. A busy studio musician, he has played on hundreds of T.V. and radio jingles, themes, movies, records, CD’s and DVD’s. Recent recordings include Juno-winning or nominated CD’s by Phil Dwyer, Alex Dean, Brian Dickinson, John MacLeod, Kirk MacDonald, and soloing on the epic new game “Cuphead”. Al’s association with Yamaha has led him to Japan helping design the YSL 697Z/897Z trombones and the Al Kay Artist Model mouthpiece.

Dr. Richard White and the University of New Mexico Tuba Ensemble

With over two decades of performing on the world’s classical music stages, tubist Richard White has matured into a musician known for his clear sound and stylistic flexibility. He began his tuba studies with Ed. Goldstein at age twelve at The Baltimore School for the Performing Arts, where he graduated with honors. He then went to the Peabody Conservatory of Music to study with David Fedderly (Principal Tubist, Baltimore Symphony) where he received his Bachelor’s degree. On the advice of Mr. Fedderly, Richard traveled to Indiana University to study with the legendary Professor Daniel Perantoni. He continued his studies there receiving both his Master’s and Doctoral degrees.

Dr. White held the position of Principal Tubist with the New Mexico Symphony Orchestra from 2004 until it’s untimely demise in 2011 and is currently in his fifth season as Principal Tubist of the New Mexico Philharmonic. Richard enjoys teaching at the University of New Mexico, where he is Associate Professor of tuba/euphonium, and Associate Director of the Spirit Marching Band. Dr. White has performed with the Canadian Brass Quintet, Indiana University Faculty Brass Quintet, New Mexico Symphony Brass Quintet, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Colorado Symphony Orchestra, Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, Malaysian Philharmonic, Santa Fe Opera, Sphinx Symphony, Spoleto Music Festival U.S.A., Music in the Mountains, a summer festival located in beautiful Durango, CO, and many others. Dr. White is an Adams Artist, and performs exclusively on these instruments.

Prior to moving to New Mexico, Dr. White was one of the top freelance musicians in the Indianapolis area, where he recorded with such greats as movie film composer John Williams, Cincinnati Pops conductor Eric Kunzel, and the late great wind ensemble conductor Frederik Fennell. Throughout his musical and educational career development, Dr. White has had a passionate interest in motivational speaking. That dream has recently materialized itself with the launching of his website rawtuba.com. Sharing inspirational thoughts and philosophies that have motivated Dr. White has taken him to Mexico, South America, Europe, South East Asia and across the United States of America – with more engagements on the horizon.

UNM Tuba Ensemble – Harvey Phillips Chapter of the ITEA

The University of New Mexico Harvey Phillips Chapter of ITEA was founded in August of 2005. The chapter was named after Mr. Phillips to honor his outstanding work and dedication to the tuba and low brass world. The tuba/euphonium studio is a very active organization on and off campus. Following Dr. Richard White’s arrival in 2004 we have performed at International and Regional Tuba Euphonium Conferences and have had several students compete and place at these events. Locally we perform at arts in medicine at UNM Hospital and Tuba Christmas during the holiday season. We have also hosted several internationally known guest artists to perform including Dan Perantoni, Gail Williams, Demondrae Thurman and many others. These guest artists have given recitals, master classes and applied lessons that are open to the public.

Dr. Aaron Wilson

Assistant Professor of Low Brass, Brandon University

Having spent his career in the Pacific Northwest and the Southern United States, Dr. Aaron Wilson is honored to be a part of the Brandon University School of Music as the Assistant Professor of Low Brass. Wilson remains active in the Manitoba music scene, appearing with the Winnipeg Jazz Orchestra, the Brandon Chamber Players, and the Market Street Brass. Prior to his appointment at Brandon, Wilson performed with the Bay Street Brassworks, a brass and percussion ensemble based out of Indianapolis. His involvement with the group enabled him to perform educational and community concerts along the east coast. In addition, Wilson has performed with several professional ensembles including the Raleigh Symphony Orchestra, the Piedmont Triad Jazz Orchestra, the Market Street Brass, and the Durham Symphony, where he served as the principal trombonist.

An energetic solo artist, Wilson presents recitals regularly across Canada and the United States. His repertoire selection is highly varied, featuring standards of the trombone repertoire, chamber music selections, electroacoustic works, and off-the-wall avant-garde pieces. Additionally, Wilson has been featured as a guest artist with the North Carolina Trombone Festival, the UNCG University Band, the Whatcom Wind Ensemble, and the Indiana Junior All-State Band.

Wilson earned his Doctor of Musical Arts and Master of Music degrees from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, where he studied with Dr. Randy Kohlenberg. He earned his Bachelor of Music degree from Western Washington University, where he studied with Greg Cox. While at UNCG, Wilson had the opportunity to teach undergraduate low brass students, conduct the UNCG Trombone Ensemble, assist with teaching the school’s brass methods course, as well as teach several sections of freshman level music theory and ear training. Furthermore, he was active in organizing the annual North Carolina Trombone Festival, Carolina Band Festival, UNCG Summer Music Camp, and the 2013 College Band Director’s National Association Conference in Greensboro.


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