Profs perform for students & friends

Colleagues bring their uncommon trio of trumpet, alto sax and piano to Chalmers United Church

Brass Royale recently performed at McGill and SUNY Potsdam.
Brass Royale recently performed at McGill and SUNY Potsdam.
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Not many undergrads get to see their professors in action.

Humanities students can read a book their professor published, and engineers can check out a site designed by their mentors, but it’s music students who get the chance to experience it live.

Trumpet player and Queen’s professor Dan Tremblay might be more excited than his students.

“Mainly because it’s so much fun,” he said, “and to set an example for our students.”

This Sunday, Tremblay will be performing with colleagues Peter Freeman on alto saxophone, and Thomas Davidson on piano.

An uncommon combination, the trio had to do a bit of extra inquiry when putting together their program.

“Peter did some research and came back with ten obscure pieces,” Tremblay said.

“There’s not a tremendous amount of music for written trumpet, saxophone and piano,” Freeman said.

The group negotiated this by commissioning one piece — and tinkering with another.

“We had the idea of rearranging the ‘Carnival of Venice’ so that saxophone could play as well,” Freeman said. “Part of it is harmonized — it’s quite humourous.”

“We have some changes that we can’t tell people unless they come,” he said.

Using grant money, the trio was also able to commission an entirely new piece as well.

The new piece is divided into two parts. Composer Justin Mariner describes the first part as “built in several layers that seem to be rhythmically opposed, but are bound by a common pulse.”

One of Tremblay’s SUNY Potsdam colleagues has already expressed interest in using the piece at one of his own recitals.

“It’s a small community of performers in different universities and word gets around about new music,” Freeman said. “Now with things like YouTube it gets around faster than ever.”

Freeman said he doesn’t just enjoy playing the newly commissioned piece, the whole program is fun.

“I’ve done enough playing that I only want to do recitals now where I really enjoy the music that I’m playing,” he said. “I love everything that I am playing in this recital.”

The recital is part of the School of Music’s Faculty Artist Series.

The series is an opportunity for students and community members to experience a professional recital. Both the Penderecki String Quartet and the Music of Kristi Allik and Friends held recitals in January.

The trio has recently performed the program twice, at McGill and the Crane School of Music at SUNY Potsdam — two other universities where the members teach.

Davidson, who teaches piano, chamber music and musicianship, is also looking forward to the show.

“It’s great when you’re working all through the semester with colleagues, and then to actually get together and do something creative all together,” he said. “We’ve had a lot of fun putting it all together.”

Performing a commissioned piece is novel, but for Davidson the whole program is intriguing.

“It’s really nice to interact with a composer who is still living,” he said. “Not just one of the old, dead masters.”

Confident the show will be successful, the only issue still bothering Freeman is this weekend’s daylight saving time change — a one hour jump ahead.

“Are they going to be late for the concert because of it?” he said.

“Don’t worry,” said Tremblay, “I will wake you up that morning.”

Brass Royale performs March 9 at Chalmers United Church as part of the School of Music’s Faculty Artist Series.

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