For a few years I had seen social media photos of trombones gathering at the SliderAsia trombone and low brass festival in Hong Kong. This year I was fortunate to be able to go myself, thanks to the generous support of my QSO Chair Sponsors Francis and Stephen Maitland, along with four students from Griffith University, and a large group from Melbourne University with Don Immel. Overall, twelve countries were represented at the festival, with large contingents from Taiwan, Singapore, Korea, Thailand and China.
Hosted by the Hong Kong Trombone Society, led by Stanley Chen and with Artistic Director Denson Paul Pollard (Bass trombone at the Metropolitan Opera, New York), we had an action packed week of warm ups, masterclasses, trombone, euphonium and tuba choir rehearsals, and 28 different performances – all crammed into seven days. One of the big features of the week was an international solo competition for tenor and bass trombonists.
Many delegates and faculty members had come directly from the International Trombone Festival, this year held in Valencia, Spain, and others had come from II Projeto Bone international festival in Brazil. Guest composers were Eric Ewazen and Steven Verhelst, and their compositions were a central feature of the festival, both giving lectures/demonstrations about the performance of their music as well as their composing processes.
It all began with a Masterclass by Don Immel, in which he shared some of his personal trombone journey, and his three rules:
Air to lips; (2) Tongue exactly in time; (3) Move the slide later
Don also delved into performance psychology with practical tips on performing under pressure, referencing the work of Don Greene. This was followed by a Mass choir rehearsal led by Dr Denson Paul Pollard, and introduced some of the music we would play in our participant choirs. Opening concerts included spectacular concerts by the Melbourne University Trombone Choir and the Geneva Brass Quintet.
The next morning Brett Baker did a very practical masterclass on performance with some great tips and impressive demonstrations. He touched on maximising your ability to perform at your best, managing anxiety, keeping healthy perspectives on perfectionism, explaining our fight or flight instincts, and recommended the book The Inner Game of Music. He also spoke about the ‘Chimp paradox’ theory by Steve Peters exploring logic versus emotion.