Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Aeolus. Greek Mythology: The God of the Winds

Aeolus (ˈēələs) Greek Mythology:
The God of the Winds.

Something extraordinary happened this week (September 13-18, 2016) in Düsseldorf, Germany. The 11th edition of THE AEOLUS INTERNATIONAL COMPETITION OF WIND INSTRUMENTS was a major musical event. I was privileged to sit in the judges committee in this year’s competition for trumpet, trombone and tuba.

2016 is truly a year of international tuba competitions, from Jeju, Korea, the Aeolus competition in Düsseldorf, Germany, Brno, Check Republic, Japanese National Competition, and Portia, Italy. 2016 is an unusually active year for the tuba. Some players would like to have participated in all these competitions; very few had the recourses to cover all the expenses, plus the necessary study to learn five separate repertoires would be a daunting task.

All competitions have one thing in common, after months of specific preparation, many return to their homes dissatisfied. This is normal, similar to having prepared for the Olympics, concentrating a huge and lengthy amount of preparation and energy, into a few minutes of highly focused performance, can be quite stressful. Frequently, such prolonged stress and subsequent disappointment can translate into bitterness with hints of jury favoritism regarding nationalism, teacher-student history or other rationalisations to hide the pain of that disappointment; sometimes the stress and disappointment also affects the judges of the competition. This was ABSOLUTELY NOT the case at the Aeolus Competition in Düsseldorf; although not all the judges agreed with the results, which were very close, all finished the week only with deep respect for each other.

The extraordinary success of the Aeolus Competition can largely be attributed to the leadership and organisation of Dr. Sieghardt Rometsch who’s vision realised a competition with an extraordinary positive atmosphere for competitors, jurors and all concerned.

The winner of the final round of the Aeolus competition was Swedish trombonist, Louise Pollock with a stunning performance of the Concertino op. 4 of Ferdinand David.

During the semifinals of this competition something very significant happened: All the semifinalists were required to play a specific contemporary work, For the trombone, this piece was BLACK HAWK EAGLE, by trombonist, conductor, fellow juror and composer, Christian Lindberg. In the opinion of this listener, this was the finest new work for any brass instrument written in my lifetime. As a would-be writer, I try to avoid superlatives but I would like to share my quick written notes written directly after hearing the four sequential performances. Quoted from my notes: “Monumental, powerful, tenderness, Mahleresque, new world standard of a solo brass piece – pay attention!!” It’s understood these are strong adjectives but I invite you to listen to this piece and find your own impressions.

Again, it’s with thanks and appreciation to Dr. Sieghardt Rometsch for his vision and creation of the Aeolus competition.

October 24, 2016, Oaxaca, Mexico