My own journey: last year of doctoral work

My last year of study at was the academic year 1993-94. During the summer before school I had proposed to Melissa, and we were making plans for a wedding in June of 1994. We had moved in with some friends to share a house.

During the fall of 1993, I became heavily involved in the Early Music Institute, performing with the IU Baroque Orchestra. On the first program I played the obligato aria “Destero dall’empia dite” from Handel’s opera Amadigi di Gaula. I also played Telemann’s Tafel Music Suite No. 2, Biber’s Sonata IV. At the end of the season, Stanley Ritchie wanted me to play ’s Brandenburg No. 2 on , which was a problem, because my trumpet didn’t play in the right pitch. Rick Seraphinoff had made the trumpet to play in C and D, but not in F, but he had some ideas.

I was taking an independent course in instrument repair from Rick, so together we cut his instrument a little, made new connecting pipes and bends for the corpus of this very practical (but not very authentic) instrument, so that it could now also play in E-flat, E and F (baroque pitch). The only thing left was to learn how to play the Brandenburg on this instrument.

Thomas Binkley, EMI professor at IU

Meanwhile, I was taking a course in Renaissance performance from the amazing professor, Thomas Binkley, who had studied and performed extensively in Europe as a lutenist before returning to the U.S. to be the first director of IU’s Early Music Institute. During the first week of my class with Prof. Binkley, a fellow student offered to sell me a Christopher Monk “resin” . She couldn’t play it and offered it to me for $30. I jumped all over that and started taking lessons on it from Rick Seraphinoff. Rick didn’t really know how to play it, but he knew some sources, and we explored together the fingerings and articulations. Later in the year I remember taking a lesson from an IU alum–the great Bruce Dickey.

I remember one time when I was practicing my new cornetto in a practice room in the Music Annex, Thomas Binkley opened the door and chatted with me. He listed to me play with the historic articulations that was struggling with. I’ll never forget what he taught me in that conversation. He suggested how, instead of trying to use the Italian syllables in the Dalla Casa Il Vero Modo, I could instead think of my own language. He said it was totally authentic and correct to think of one’s own language when trying to articulate a Renaissance wind instrument. He was an original thinker.

Meanwhile, modern trumpet with Prof. Gorham continued. I remember a particular trumpet student in Gorham’s studio named Todd Craven. About the second week’s studio class, Todd played about a half minute of the Jolivet Concertino. It was okay. Then the next week a little more, and more polished. And so it went, over the fall semester, that Jolivet got better and more of it got played, until it was polished gem stone.

Todd Craven, great trumpeter and now great conductor

There was a brass concerto competition every year, and I decided I would try. I had been playing the Tomasi Concerto, but my preparation was much more haphazard than Todd’s. In addition, my overall technique for playing this piece really wasn’t at the place it needed to be. I did put in the time, and I had some good musical ideas that I had figured out about this piece over the past few years, but I had no illusions about the competition. When we had played our pieces for the panel of teachers, I was surprised to find out I had won! In talking to Allan Dean, who still taught at IU at the time, the decision came down to musicality. That was an interesting lesson for me, because I still think Todd had played a cleaner performance. Todd, after many years as principal trumpet with the Florida West Coast Symphony, is now an accomplished conductor, and I’m sure I could learn a few things from him about musicality. About a month later, I finally performed the Tomasi with orchestra, with Thomas Baldner conducting. I had learned it from memory and practiced it about a million times. It was a thrilling experience.

Still later in the spring semester, the Brandenburg loomed. Again, I practiced it a lot. I remember even cutting my lips from the pressure and fatigue, but I had enough time to recover, and I was able to play the piece well. Prof. Ritchie was happy. Mr. Gorham was happy. My old teacher, Mr. Adelstein, was happy (but he didn’t completely approve of the fast tempo of the last movement or the near-absence of a ritard at the end).

Michael Münkwitz, Robert Barclay and Rick Seraphinoff with a workshop trumpet

As we worked together in his shop, Rick and I talked about the possibility of hosting a baroque trumpet making workshop on campus for the following summer–with Robert Barclay supervising. Rick eventually got that planned, and we had about about eight participants working for a week in an IU art department workshop. One of the participants was Fred Holmgren, a unique person and very important player in the 90s in the U.S. That workshop turned into a tradition that has continued to this day. Nowadays, German baroque trumpet maker, Michael Münkwitz is a partner with Rick. They offer one workshop in Bloomington and another in Germany every summer. It’s a great way to make your own baroque trumpet for not too much money, and I recommend it every chance I get.

At the last part of the spring semester, I found out the great news that I had been awarded the Fulbright Scholarship to study baroque trumpet with in the Netherlands.

We were married in Atlanta on June 18, 1994. We had a wonderful ceremony with my parents and brothers, all of Melissa’s family and many of our school friends. Pat Sarracco played trumpet during the wedding. During the reception, I actually played “Misty” with the jazz combo that we had hired for the occasion.

Getting away from the wedding

We eventually left with a bottle of champagne and went to Melissa’s grandparents’ house on Lake Burton in North Georgia. The next day, we had all of our IU friends join us. It was a lot of fun, but it was a kind of end to that wonderful chapter in our lives.

Melissa and I had an even more impressive second honeymoon to prepare for. We had to get ready for Europe.

 

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My own journey: back to baroque and back to school

I came back from the Munich Competition disappointed. I realized that if I wanted to continue to grow, something was going to have to change. I thought back to those days at the University of , when I had borrowed Mike Johnson’s Meinl & Lauber baroque . New ones, even back in the 1990s were at least $1500. How could I get one on the budget I had?

IU was a fantastic place to study early music. Thomas Binkley, Elizabeth Wright and Stanley Ritchie were some of the legendary professors in the Early Music Institute. There was also a teacher named Rick Seraphinoff, who was fantastic at historic horn playing.

Dr. Bryan Appleby-Wineberg, now professor at Rowan University

I had not finished my doctorate studies at IU, and I began to realize that I should go back to school and finish my coursework. I may need that degree some day. miraculously figured out a way for me to get a fellowship to study another year. I told the University of Evansville that I was going back to school, so they started looking for someone else to replace me in the consortium (it turned out to be Bryan Appleby-Wineberg).

IU horn professor, Rick Seraphinoff

Rick Seraphinoff had a shop in his basement where he made historic horn reproductions–he had also made a couple of baroque trumpets modeled on those made by Stephen Keavy in the UK. The ones Rick had made were not very authentic, having, for instance, a stock modern B-flat bell. Around 1992, one of my close friends at IU, Sean Harvey, had bought one of the two Keavy-copies that Rick had made. But he found he couldn’t really do what he wanted on that instrument. At one point Sean was chatting with me about his plans to learn jazz. Like me, he had no money. But Sean wanted a flugelhorn for his new jazz plans.

Sean Harvey, trumpet student at IU (and later Google big-wig)

I had a student-model Yamaha flugelhorn that I had bought when I was in Steve Sample’s jazz band at the . I hardly ever played it, so, I offered an exchange to Sean–my flugel for his . He thought that was a great idea, but there was just one problem. His baroque trumpet was in a gym bag in his apartment in New York City. He was somewhere else (maybe out of the country–I can’t remember) and couldn’t get it.

I drove to NYC, found his apartment and knocked on the door. His landlady had no idea who I was and what I wanted, but reluctantly let me in. I found Sean’s gym bag–full of unwashed clothes and baroque trumpet yards and crooks. Eventually, I got all the baroque trumpet parts, left my flugel there and drove back to Indiana.

IU EMI professor, Stanley Ritchie

This was during the summer of 1993. I started practicing a few things on my new Seraphinoff trumpet, and even played a little for Rick. I felt pretty good about it, so I made an appointment to play for professor Stanley Ritchie, a baroque violinist and the director of the baroque orchestra at IU. Stanley loved the thought of programing baroque trumpet music for the year. He asked me if I’d be up for playing ’s Brandenburg No. 2 at the end of the semester. I didn’t know how I would prepare that, but I said yes.

So, my fourth year of doctoral studies at IU began, with me taking lessons from Mr. Gorham again. I was playing in the baroque orchestra under Mr. Ritchie. Every concert that year had a baroque trumpet piece. I took baroque trumpet lessons and an independent study course with Rick–I learned how to do some basic brass instrument repairs in his workshop in that course.

Baroque Trumpeter,

I even made an application for a Fulbright Grant to study more baroque trumpet. This was a very involved application. I decided to try to study with Friedemann Immer, the great German baroque , in Amsterdam, where he taught at the Sweelinck Conservatorium. I studied Dutch for about a month or two, so that I could convince the reviewing committee that I was competent enough to do studies in the Netherlands. I sent the application off in October of 1993.

But I had to wait until the spring to find out whether I made it or not.

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