Teaching at music camps this summer

After coming back to Houston, I’ve been hanging out with my kids a lot, going to the pool almost every day. The last week of June, I was on the jazz faculty for the American Festival for the Arts. AFA is a high-school camp that goes over several weeks. It’s mostly orchestral, but they have one week of jazz each year.

We had lots of fun, great kids and a killer faculty under the direction of sax-player Warren Sneed. The rest of the faculty was Pamela York piano, Dennis Dotson trumpet, Woody Witt sax, Mike Wheeler guitar, David Craig bass and Sebastian Whittaker drums. That’s the kind of camp I wanted to go to as a kid! We ended the week with a concert in Zilka Hall at the Hobby Center. The bands were kicking, and we had a blast.

I also taught trombone master classes at the Austin High School in Sugarland for one week in August. The kids were great, very appreciative, and we had a good time doing both fundamentals, classical and jazz playing. On August 22 we had a concert/live CD recording at the Lakewood church with Israel Houghton, Cindy Cruse, the band and the choir. It should be a kicking gospel album, to be released in November together with the new book by Joel Osteen.

The Houston Ballet season starts with rehearsals late August. I’m also playing a jazz concert September 2 with Barrie Lee Hall, great trumpet player and musical director of the Duke Ellington Orchestra.

That’s it for now, more to follow.

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Auditioning for the Swedish Radio Symphony

In April I started to get ready for the co-principal audition for the Swedish Radio Symphony in Stockholm. I took lessons with David Waters and John McCroskey of the Houston Symphony, and Mike Warney of the HGO and Houston Ballet. I tried to record myself most days, some I thought sounded pretty decent, other days were not that good!

The whole Hultén family left for Sweden on May 26, and we had three wonderful weeks with my and Tina’s families.

May 31 I went to the Berwald Hall in Stockholm and played the audition list for Göran Brink, 2nd trombone of the Swedish Radio Symphony and my first trombone teacher in high school, and Mikael Oskarsson, principal trombone. I haven’t met these guys for probably 15 years, great to see them again. It was also a little nerve-wrecking playing for my first teacher!

They gave me some good comments for the upcoming audition, a week later. There were maybe 30 players showing up for the audition, with a few continental Europeans and one American (not counting myself). It was great to see some of my old friends I haven’t met in years.

The first round was the David trombone concertino 1st mvt including cadenza. I think I played pretty good, but not my best, I made a couple of stupid little mistakes. After lunch they announced who advanced, and I was pleasantly surprised to hear that I was one of the five to the second round.

The second round was the David 2nd mvt, Tuba Mirum, Bolero and Mahler Third. This round felt really comfortable, and I took my time between the excerpts, trying not to rush things. More discussions by the jury, and they decided to advance Mikael Oskarsson of the Royal Stockholm Opera and myself to the finals. This was played with the section, with no screen (for natural reasons!).

We started by doing the tenor parts, Brahms’s 4th, Nielsen’s 2nd, Tjaikovskij’s 6th and Bruckner’s 4th symphonies. I switched between 1st and 2nd trombone. After a short break we played alto, Mozart Requiem and Schuman’s 3rd.

After what felt like an eternity they announced that they wanted Mikael to play the fall with them as a trial period. I thought that was an excellent decision from the jury! Mikael is a really fine player, and a great guy, and I’m not sure I’m ready to make such a big move yet, especially considering that my wife Tina loves her position at Baylor College of Medicine.

So overall this audition was a very good experience.

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Travel for concert with Joel Osteen

May 18 I went to Nashville with the Lakewood Church band for an event called “An evening with Joel Osteen”. 17 000 people came to the arena to hear Joel speak, and Israel Houghton and Cindy Cruse were the featured singers. Since then, I’ve been playing some Wednesday night services at the Lakewood Church, but I’m still doing my regular Saturday night 6 pm service at the Second Baptist church, and the Sunday jazz brunch at the Mariott Westchase Hotel, with guitar player Mike Nase and bassist Steve Brown.

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Aida and the Cunning Little Vixen

In April and May I played principal trombone for the Houston Grand Opera productions of Verdi’s Aida and the Cunning Little Vixen by Leos Janaçek. We had a total of 27 brasses in Aida, counting herald trumpets, off-stage brass and the pit brass section. Check out the pictures. How the singers can be heard, with no mikes, over all that noise is a total mystery to me! The Cunning Little Vixen has a very intricate score, lots of tempo- and meter changes. There are some absolutely beautiful sections, and the HGO Orchestra sounded great under the direction of maestro Patrick Summers.

I also played a couple of family concerts with the Houston Symphony, and recorded a demo of Ned Battista’s ballet “Kansas City” with the American Pops under the direction of the composer.

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Shows I played in Feb. and March

It’s been and exciting spring and summer 2007.

February was spent at the Hobby Center, where I played the musical “Swing”. Loads of fun, with a swinging band under the direction of Sam Kriger from LA. The most exposed part for me was “Cry me a river”, where I go out on stage playing opposite a gorgeous singer, complete with pixiemute and choreography!

Allen Vizutti came to town for two concerts March 5 and 6. Paragon Brass, where I’m a member, opened the second one with 40 minutes of chamber music before Allen came out and showed us how to really play the trumpet!

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