Matthew Russo, trombonist & educator

Instructor of Trombone, University of Connecticut

on american soil streaming link featuring premiere of feedback loop death

Below is the link for tonight’s recital and a note about the program. 

Live stream videos at Ustream

About tonight’s program

Tonight’s program has two aims: to promote twentieth and twenty-first century American music for trombone and to pay tribute to trombonists before me who have carried this tradition through today and who have impacted my career thus far.

First let me start with this disclaimer: Paul Hindemith was not born in the United States and thus derails the idea that all was written by Americans. However, Hindemith not only wrote this piece (and his Sonata for Trombone) in America, both in New Haven and near Tanglewood, but also spent many years in the state of Connecticut, as I have. Furthermore, Hindemith, through some smart political connections, became a U.S. Citizen in 1946, and while he did return to Germany in the early 1950s, his experience as a pedagogue at Yale University and lecturer at Harvard University, and influence over American composers such as Harold Shapero (of Brandeis University), and Mel Powell (founder of the composition department at CalArts), was essential to the evolution of American music through the mid to late twentieth century. So in my opinion, his influence on American instrumental music over the last seventy years earns him a seat at this all-American buffet.

This concert showcases the diversity of the American style through the last seventy years and highlights a series of movements within instrumental music, especially trombone literature. The prominence of unaccompanied instrumental music returned in the twentieth century, as Berio, Persichetti, and others wrote significant unaccompanied sets for various instruments, including Berio’s Sequenza V, and Persichetti’s Parable XVIII for trombone. I became familiar with Stephen Gryc’s music with the premiere of his trombone concerto in 2006 as a member of the accompanying wind ensemble. His Con Sordino is a wonderful addition to the unaccompanied trombone repertoire and evades the monotony of many unaccompanied pieces; I am delighted to have the opportunity to perform this for you tonight. Edward Diemente’s THINGS HEARD occupies another important tradition in recent musical history: acoustic music with electronic accompaniment. Edward Diemente is Professor Emeritus of the composition department at The Hartt School where he led the Electronic Music Studio;this year marks his 90th birthday. Halsey Stevens’ Sonata was written in a rich period of the trombone’s history between the 1940s and 1970s, where many new trombone works were written globally. Staples of the repertoire, including the Hindemith, Casterede, and Serocki Sonatas, and the Creston, Tomasi, Jacob, and Larsson concertos as well as the aforementioned Sequenza V were all written during this time. Feedback Loop Death highlights yet another shift, from traditional forms that still governed much of the music of the mid- twentieth century, to freely composed forms. Feedback Loop Death doesn’t share the style and form of the traditional sonata, nor does it exemplify the qualities of traditional test pieces and other short works for piano and trombone. It instead occupies a new space within the realm of instrumental music, made free over the last three decades. The final two selections on this program represent an urge to find more repertoire for the alto trombone from the twentieth century.

The program also pays tribute to many trombonists throughout the twentieth century who have paved the way for trombone soloists in the twenty-first century. Con Sordino is dedicated to Glenn Smith, who was professor of trombone at the University of Michigan from 1950 to 1981. His legacy as a master trombonist and pedagogue has influenced many of today’s leading trombonists. Halsey Stevens’ Sonata was premiered by Robert Marsteller, another leading pedagogue active from 1946-1975. As a member of the Los Angeles Philharmonic for 25 years, Marsteller premiered Paul Creston’s Fantasy for Trombone and Orchestra, one of the hallmarks in the repertoire. Stevens’ Sonata is significant because of its relationship with Ronald A. Borror, Professor of Trombone at The Hartt School from (1978 – 2012) and my former teacher. His recording of the Halsey Stevens was highly rated, with High Fidelity praising the album, “It would be fortunate if every instrument had a Ronald Borror, someone whose musical curiosity leads him to rescue little-known works from obscurity,” and Fanfare magazine recognizing Ron as “…a nimble and forceful virtuoso.” The inspiration for the final selection comes from Ronald Barron, formerprincipal trombonist of the Boston Symphony Orchestra from 1975-2008. Ronald Barron recorded the Hindemith Sonate für Althorn und Klavier on his album Hindemith on Trombone.



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