When the great 19th century violinist Nicolo Paganini gave his awe-inspiring musical firework displays to astonished audiences there were those who wondered seriously if he had sold his soul to the Devil in exchange for his phenomenal powers. The modern euphonium has been with us for nearly 150 years. Plenty of time, you might think for its character to develop or even change. It is remarkable how composers and players seem to have grasped the basics of its musical nature. On the one hand it is the supremely 'well sounding' (euphonic) voice to support the singer's emotional revelations and on the other hand the euphonium's agility soon had it marked out together with the cornet as the virtuoso brass instrument 'par excellence'. Even so, it is rare to find a modern performer who has so thoroughly mastered both sides of the euphonium's personality as Steven Mead. He sounds utterly at home in whatever he plays and his repertoire for this CD is huge and wide - ranging from original euphonium works (Joseph Horovitz, Amilcare Ponchielli, Philip Sparke) to virtuoso pieces originally written for the bassoon, the voice, the violin and cello.
Englishman Steven Mead (B.1962) needs no introduction to brass enthusiasts around the world as his playing and teaching have become known to virtually all who have a love for the instrument known as the euphonium.
As a soloist his career as a professional solo performer continues to break new ground. With over 75 solo performances a year his relentless schedule sees him touring almost constantly.
This remarkable solo career followed on from the successes he achieved as a member of several of the UK’s leading brass bands. Nowadays he travels constantly and performs regularly with some of the finest brass, wind and symphonic ensembles in the world.
He has played solo concerti with symphony orchestras in Norway (Trondheim Symphony Orchestra) , Finland (Lahti Symphony Orchestra cond.Osmo Vänskä, and Helsinki Philharmonic cond. Elgar Howarth), Poland (Capella Cracoviensis), USA, Canada, Italy, Japan, and Lithuania.
As a soloist he has played with most of the leading military bands in the world including Band of the Garde Republicaine (Paris, France) The Central Band of the RAF (London, UK) The Italian Police Band (Rome, Italy), The Dutch Marine Band (Rotterdam,Netherlands) The US Army Band (Washington DC, USA).
He has been described as one of the world’s most recorded solo brass artists with over 40 CDs to his credit. In addition, his strong contribution to education literature for the euphonium is unmatched, such as specialist publications by publishers such as DeHaske and Studio Music.
He is the owner of a music label, Bocchino Music which now produces and distributes his albums.
As an innovator for the whole ‘low brass’ world in general, he has been the Artistic Director of all 6 of the National Tuba / Euphonium Conferences , held in the UK.
He has also given concert tours with several leading professional chamber ensembles in Europe, including ‘Sound-Inn-Brass’ (Austria), ‘Classic Quintet’ (Bolzano,Italy) and the ‘Trombonisti Italiani’ (Italy) and London Brass.
His innovation is also evident with his premiere performances of new concerti and major works by Martin Ellerby, Philip Sparke, Torstein Aagaard Nilsen, Tadeusz Kassatti, John Reeman, Derek Bourgeois, Vladimir Cosma, Thomas Dos, Howard Snell to name but a few.
He is Artistic Director of the ‘Low Brass Ensemble of Upper Austria’.
As a teacher he is Senior Tutor in Euphonium the Royal Northern College of Music, in Manchester UK and also at teaches at several specialist schools across Europe, and in Japan. He has been responsible for the first ever euphonium masterclasses in Italy, Portugal, Lithuania, Slovenia, Russia and Austria. Students from all around the world come to study with him the UK and many of them have gone on to enjoy top professional careers.
As a designer Steven has been an artist and clinician with Besson Musical Instruments for many years and has been responsible for the design and development of the Steven Mead series of brass mouthpieces and the new Besson Prestige Euphonium.
Many commentators suggest it is Steven’s vocal background (from the age of 6) that is responsible for the truly unique beauty of his euphonium tone. The rich expressive approach to musical performance has been admired by professional musicians around the world and as a result Steven is performing increasingly with orchestras and chamber ensembles in addition to brass and wind bands.
His concerts and recitals are hallmarked by a unique communication between artist and audience.
Howard Snell – Conductor, former Principal trumpet London Symphony Orchestra: “…In the parallel universe of brass-world Steven Mead is a celebrity. He amazes, astonishes and astounds afresh with each recording or concert appearance. He continually renews and invigorates his repertoire and never fails to offer something novel to the public. He never lets his fans down.Steven's years on the road, the constant search for new repertoire, a teaching role where no trouble is too much, all of these things go well beyond that of being merely a great performer, of which there are quite a few, and take him into the position only the blinkered would contest: his world-wide role as the euphonium's foremost ambassador”.
Brass Bulletin: “when he puts the mouthpiece to his lips, you know instantly that you are in the presence of an extraordinary musician.”
The Gramophone: “The music immediately impresses on the listener Mead's talent as a musician and communicator. Mead's lyricism is simply a joy to behold.”
Brass Band World: “A standing ovation coaxed Steven back on stage, and completely unaccompanied, gave the audience a virtuostic performance almost beyond belief. The crowd were enthralled.”
British Bandsman: “His recital was a tour de force of flawless technique, incredible virtuosity and a refined and appropriate sense of good taste and true musicianship.”
T.U.B.A. Journal: “What better way to end a concert by an essentially British tradition (brass band) than a performance by the unquenchable Steven Mead? Following a flawless performance of Golland's Concerto for Euphonium and Band, Mead stole the show with his encore arrangement of Rule Britannia”.
ITEA Journal: “I cannot remember the last time I had so much fun listening to a euphonium recording. With a potpourri of music Steve again reveals why he continues to be in amazing demand as one of the world's premiere brass soloists.”