Great American sounds: Colorado Symphony

Colorado Symphony trumpet section September 26-30, 2018 (l.-r.): Stanley Curtis, assistant (extra); Justin Bartels, principal; Philip Hembree, assistant principal; Patrick Tillery, associate principal; Jeff Korak, fourth (extra)

This weekend, I played extra with the Colorado Symphony, a great orchestra based in Denver, Colorado. Conducted by Brett Mitchell, the program was Duke Ellington’s Three Black Kings, George Gershwin’s Piano Concerto, and John Adam’s City Noir. The orchestra sounded marvelous, and it was nice to play in the trumpet section with Patrick Tillery (Associate Principal), Philip Hembree (2nd/Assistant Principal), and Justin Bartels (Principal). Jeff Korak, Second Trumpet for the past 20 years in the Columbus Symphony (Ohio), was also playing extra.


John Adams, “City Noir,” excerpt from 1st trumpet part, showing demanding rhythm.


I got to play fourth on the Ellington and assistant principal on the Adams. Sitting next to Justin was such a treat for me on the Adams, which is an 18-page-long, very demanding part with a huge solo in the third movement.

“City Noir” 1st trumpet excerpt showing part of extended solo in third movement



Justin’s command of the instrument as well as his huge tone was inspirational, especially considering he played the very famous solo on the Gershwin in addition to the Adams on the same program.


Special mention of the some of the rest of the brass section in the Colorado Symphony is required: principal horn Michael Thornton and principal trombone John Sipher (who had an amazing lyrical extended solo in the Adams). Must also mention bass trombone Gregory Harper and principal tuba Stephen Dombrowski who laid down the bass lines so well.

The only disappointment of the series was the audience turnout. Without a big repertoire piece on the program (Gershwin not really being in that category), Denver couldn’t mobilize enough enthusiasm to fill Boettcher Concert Hall. Not that Denver doesn’t like the Arts. They seem to embrace museums, interesting architecture and vibrant shows all over the town (see some of my photos below).

I’m new to Colorado (with the exception of playing in the National Repertory Orchestra for two seasons, many years ago), so I used all of Friday afternoon to walk around the downtown Denver area, taking in some of the really distinct vibe of this city. I think you’ll find some of my photos interesting.

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Music review: J.F. Madeuf, Musica Fiorita playing Molter

Karlsruhe Palace, where Molter worked at the end of his life

Yesterday, I wrote about the power of music review. Today, I am writing a review about some powerful music: Jean François Madeuf’s new album featuring music by Johann Melchior Molter. James Miller has already written an excellent review for the Historic Brass Society Journal.

This new recording is a wonderful addition to the growing audio library we have of natural baroque trumpet playing. Jean François is joined on trumpet by Henry Moderlak and Tomohiro Sugimara on Molter’s Concerto No. 3 in D Major for three trumpets (MWV 4:11).

But the best part of this concerto is the third movement with its sweeping lines so wonderfully done by natural trumpets:

Jean François shows his artistic and trumpetistic abilities in the very demanding Concerto No. 1 for Trumpet in D Major (MWV 4:12):

But I really loved the whole album. Jean François and Olivier Picon play horn on the Divertimento in F Major (with tasty bassoon and  chalumeau also playing):

And I’ll leave you with this trumpet-less beauty:




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