It’s time for an update of my musical activities in the fall of 2007. The main thing in the fall has been playing principal trombone with the Houston Grand Opera, and sharing the principal spot at the Houston Ballet with John McCroskey, formerly of the Houston Symphony.
We started the season with the ballet The Merry Widow, Franz Lehar’s classic operetta, and this time without the singers. It was a fun show, lots of playing; my big solo was to depict the drunken Count for two bars!
The opera season started with The Masked Ball by Verdi. This was especially interesting for me since the story was based on an actual event in Sweden. King Gustav III was shot at a masked ball at the Royal Opera House in Stockholm March 16, 1792. He survived, but finally died thirteen days later at the age of forty six. By the way, Sweden under King Gustav III was the first country in Europe after Great Britain to acknowledge the United States of America as a sovereign nation in April of 1783. Enough history for now!
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.