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A Very Special Nexus

As part of the Music Academy’s Project Resonance initiative, fellows now have the opportunity to receive training in both public speaking and writing. These training opportunities were included this summer as part of the Music Academy Remote Learning Institute (MARLI) curriculum through pre-recorded seminars. Interested fellows were then able to work one-on-one with coaches and mentors. In the world of writing, fellows were encouraged to think beyond the traditional program note and to use writing as a way of inviting their reader to care about a piece, composer, or subject. Over the next week, you’ll have the opportunity to read some of the work these fellows produced. We begin today with trombonist Connor Rowe (’19) who gives us a little insight into Enrique Crespo, one of the composers featured today in the Concert Hall Online. To learn more about Project Resonance, read the Resonance Blog’s introductory post here. – Henry Michaels, editor
Uruguayan composer and trombonist Enrique Crespo saw much more in the trombone than his compositional predecessors. Possessing explosive talent from an early age, he rose to the top of the Montevideo, then Buenos Aires trombone scenes in the early ‘60s. In 1967 he was offered a scholarship to attend music school in Berlin, where he studied trombone and composition. Early in his career, Crespo was a bit frustrated with the existing solo repertoire for the trombone. He had an audition in which one of the required solos was a contemporary work. Instead of combing the library for a suitable piece, Crespo decided to arrange some of his more impressive sounding technical skills into a full work. He improvised some material, then wrote it down and compiled it in a coherent fashion. The flashy piece played a helpful role in winning him the audition, and the piece, Improvisation No. 1, has become a standard in the trombone repertoire.
As a composer, Crespo was influenced by a much wider variety of music than the revered masters whose music he would occasionally emulate (in this case, Anton Bruckner). One might be surprised to learn that the composer of Suite Americana No. 1 for Brass Quintet was the same man who wrote Bruckner Etude, as, other than the skill with which they are both composed, there are few superficial details linking the two works. Crespo represents a very special nexus of musical traditions. His roots are Latin American, but throughout his life he adopted and incorporated Jazz and European Classical music; his works are sometimes distinctly in one tradition, or present an original interplay between some or all of his influences. His chameleon-like compositional skill is very evident in today’s piece, which is subtitled “Etude for Brass Instruments in the Style of Bruckner.” Day to day, Crespo made his career as an orchestral player, serving as principal trombone of the Bamberger Symphoniker, then the Radio Symphony Orchestra Stuttgart. His work on outside projects, however, changed the landscape of the world of brass music considerably. In 1974, he founded the German Brass Quintet, which has grown to become one of the most popular and successful brass chamber groups in Germany (and the world) today. In 1985, (the 300th anniversary of J.S. Bach’s birth), Crespo doubled the size of the quintet to its present size (to better accommodate his Bach arrangements), and the group became the German Brass, specializing in works not originally intended for brass ensemble. Through this group, as well as his arrangements and compositions, Crespo dedicated his life to expanding the body of music available to brass (and especially trombone) players, and several of his works are among the most frequently performed brass music today. – Connor Alexander Rowe

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