Benjamin Coy


2014 International Trombone Festival

June 22, 2014 at 4:59 pm

At the beginning of the month, I attended the International Trombone Festival, which was in Rochester, NY this year. Actually, the Springfield Symphony trombone section was very well represented; Sarah Paradis, our second trombonist, was also there as part of Tromboteam! for its presentation. I had the opportunity to deliver my presentation on mouthpiece buzzing, but I spent the whole week there and attended as many performances and presentations as I could get to.

I think anyone who was there would agree that Ian Bousfield’s performance of Rachmaninoff’s Cello Sonata was the highlight of the week. There are a certain small number of superstar soloists (Itzhak Perlman, Evgeny Kissin, etc) whose performances have undermined everything I thought I knew about music and made me re-evaluate my whole life. Bousfield’s performance at the festival reached that level. I’d comment further, but I’m still processing. It was that special.

The big thing I noticed in listening to so many great trombonists speak was the variability in the definition of “good.” We often get caught up in our own regional culture and assume that there’s only one right way to play an excerpt or one type of sound quality that’s ideal, or whatever else. And almost certainly, that cultural understanding is grounded in validity. But, other regional characteristics have their own validity too, and they’re just as good.

From my own regional perspective, we often see the Chicago style as “normal,” and encounter the Los Angeles and New York styles. Other regional styles in the United States are often ignored, and styles from the rest of the world don’t enter the discussion. I was glad to have the opportunity to expand my horizons and hear so many other perspectives.

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