Corelli's published output consists entirely of music for strings. On its face, the application of this music to trombone seems an odd marriage. From our 21st century perspective, perhaps we are hard-pressed to imagine such nimble music sounding from a trombone. In recent tradition, music conceived for trombone has tended to be less active than for other brasses. Music that requires the sort of technique and flexibility that Corelli requires has been a low priority, as the trombone is assumed to have inherent limitations. But trombonists should play Corelli, first, because it is great music that has historically been shared among diverse instruments, second, because trombones and their operators have developed to a point where its performance is more than possible. The modern alto trombone is perfectly suited to the task of interpreting old music in a way that is faithful to the composer and his traditions but also visceral and exiting to modern audiences. It is our instrument of choice for the solo role here.
Although there has been renewed interest in the last few years, the alto trombone was heard infrequently in the 20th century. Consequently, audiences are not sure what to expect from it and trombonists are not unified about what to deliver with it, particularly in a solo context. Opinions vary about tone quality and about the kinds of musical situations suited to alto trombone. History teaches that instrumental concepts of the Renaissance era were evolved more or less from vocal models and that sweetness was one of the most prized qualities of sound in this era. An innocent, pure, warm sound seems to have been high on everyone's list of desirable musical qualities. Since then, we have experienced changes in this aesthetic as it relates to the world of brass playing. Brass music is a highly specialized and defined art form due to advancements in the design and quality of brass instruments and the remarkable achievements of virtuoso performers. Although Renaissance ideals are still part of the mix, today's brass players are expected to deliver strong, clear, controlled, clean sounds with a wider dynamic range than in the past. Projection of sound is highly prized.
Consider for a moment the piccolo trumpet, an instrument that Bach or Handel would not recognize. But it is the instrument of choice among trumpet players when they perform music of these revered composers, mainly because its shorter length enables one to stay lower in the harmonic series, thereby enhancing the security of notoriously difficult passages. It is a modern instrument with many advantages to its 18th century predecessor that has been developed for the purpose of thrilling today's audiences with dynamic performances of old music. Likewise, the modern alto trombone pitched in E-flat, fitted with a B-flat valve attachment, can benefit the trombonist in the same manner. In the same way that Corelli sought to demonstrate the technical capabilities of the violin that flourished in his era, this recording seeks to demonstrate similar capabilities unique to the trombone in the 21st century. Indeed, this recording and its accompanying performance editions aspire to take a place in the unbroken, 300-year performance lineage established upon Corelli's solo sonatas.
MIKE HALL is the brass choir director and professor of trombone and euphonium at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, VA. He served as professor of trombone at the University of Kansas 2000-2006, and at Eastern Michigan University 1995-2000 where he was lecturer of low brass and director of the EMU Jazz Ensemble. He also serves as Literature Reviews Editor for the International Trombone Association Journal. He has received the Doctor of Musical Arts degree in trombone performance from the University of Minnesota, the Master of Music degree in trombone performance from the University of Arizona, and the Bachelor of Music Education degree from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. His principal teachers include Thomas Ashworth, Tom Ervin, Vern Kagarice, and Brian Martz. In 1994 Dr. Hall won a position on the Christian Lindberg Solo Seminar at the University of North Texas where he worked with Mr. Lindberg for seven days of intensive study in the art of solo performance.
Dr. Hall has performed extensively throughout the United States, Mexico, Europe and China covering a large spectrum of styles, including appearances with many symphony orchestras including Kansas City, Ann Arbor, Detroit, Tucson, and Kharkiv, Ukraine. As a chamber musician Dr. Hall served as trombonist for the Kansas Brass Quintet 2000-2006 and the Galliard Brass Ensemble 1995-2000. During that time he also gave many performances with the Detroit Chamber Winds and Michigan Chamber Brass. As a studio musician Dr. Hall has recorded several motion picture sound tracks, television and radio commercials, and compact disc projects. As a soloist he gives recitals and masterclasses throughout the U.S. and Europe.
It was during his graduate studies at the University of Minnesota that Dr. Hall began to apply the Conn 36h alto trombone to Corelli's music. This recording is the first in a long-term program of research that will contribute solutions, new techniques, and suggestions of melodic embellishment to trombone repertoire of the Baroque era.
Mike Hall is a C.G. Conn and Selmer Bach performing artist.
REBECCA BELL studied at the Royal College of Music, London, where she won the prize for clavichord playing while studying with Ruth Dyson and Robert Woolley. She performs with the Kansas City Symphony and the Kansas City Chamber Orchestra and with the opera studio of Bill Hall. Other recording projects include a compact disc of Bach flute sonatas with former Kansas City flutist Lamar Hunt Jr., and she is featured on A Heartland Morning, A Heartland Afternoon, a sampler of Kansas City artists. She is a member of the American Guild of Organists and organist at All Saints Episcopal Church, Kansas City, MO.
LARRY RICE joined the University of Kansas music faculty in 1998 as instructor of double bass. He was a member of the Utah Symphony Orchestra from 1974-98, and served as Assistant Principal Bass since 1978. He performed in many international, national and regional concert tours during his tenure with the symphony, and participated in numerous Utah Symphony recordings with music directors Maurice Abravanel, Varujan Kojian and Joseph Silverstein. While on leave from the orchestra during 1994-96, Mr. Rice was appointed Instructor of Double Bass at the University of Kansas and also became a member of the Kansas City Camerata Chamber Orchestra. Mr. Rice attended the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara, CA for three seasons. He received the Bachelor of Arts degree in music from UCLA and the Master of Music degree in double bass performance from the University of Utah.