In December of 2003 I sat listening to the PMEA District 5 Honors Band. Esteemed composer Mark Camphouse was the guest conductor. As I sat and listened to “Toccata” by Frescobaldi I was completely entranced. I asked other directors about the piece – and I was dumb-founded by the fact it was such an old piece. I didn’t know it, and I felt very stupid. After having lunch with Dr. Camphouse and talking about the piece I came to big conclusion: I need to learn a “new” “old” piece every year. Four years later, this is a treat for my ears and mind. I find scores that are exciting and powerful (Festivo by Nelhybel, Chorale and Alleluia by Hanson), but I also try and find music recordings that are new to me as well.
My latest new find has been Bela Bartok and Stravinsky (My sincere apologies to Dr. Carter for not applying myself in music history during undergrad at GCC). I have found a number of Bartok’s piano pieces to be really interesting, and I am enjoying his percussive use of the instrument. I am new to his Concerto for Orchestra, but my first hearings reveal to me a great deal of color. Stravinsky’s Pertruska, Tango (for Piano) and Symphony of Psalms have my ear right now as well. Everyone knows Firebird and Rite of Spring, but he is definitely so much more!
I email Dr. Camphouse once a year to talk about new old pieces. I also check pieces out with Dr. Arnold, Dr. Greig, Gary Taylor, and Uncle Lou Collela. It is worth your time to talk with a colleague about the hidden gems that unfortunately collect too much dust and not enough audience applause and student appreciation.