Luther College Chips

Brass ensemble expresses love for composing

Assistant Professor of Music John Cord plays the trumpet.

Assistant Professor of Music John Cord plays the trumpet.

Emma Busch (‘20) | Chips

Emma Busch (‘20) | Chips

Assistant Professor of Music John Cord plays the trumpet.

Emma Busch, Staff Writer

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Five members of the Luther College brass faculty presented a collaborative recital titled “An Evening of Music for Brass” in the Noble Recital Hall on March 14. Approximately 70 people attended the performance. 

The recital featured Assistant Professor of Music John Cord, Adjunct Faculty in Music Jon Ailabouni (‘10), Adjunct Faculty in Music Rebecca Boehm Shaffer, Adjunct Faculty in Music Benjamin Yates (‘08), and Associate Professor of Music Michael Smith. Each faculty member performed a different sonata composed by Paul Hindemith, a German composer known for his contributions to brass repertoire.

The faculty performers closed the recital with a quintet. According to Cord, the faculty believe that Hindemith’s compositions served well as a unifying theme for their recital.

“In the brass world, Paul Hindemith is a substantial figure because the of sonatas that he wrote between the years 1939 and 1943,” Cord said. “[They] are all considered prominent pieces in the repertoire for brass instruments. Obviously having the brass concept in common, we thought this was a great idea to bring the five of us together and each play our representation of that important period in this composer’s career.”

Cord also said that Hindemith’s compositions stand alone as vital contributions to brass instruments as a family and individuals.

“I don’t think we have a whole lot of other composers that we can say not only do they have a sonata for all of these brass instruments, but also that any of these sonatas individually are so integral to each of these instruments’ repertoire,” Cord said.

According to Yates, faculty members enjoy performing recitals because it gives them a chance to grow as musicians and provides students an opportunity to learn from their example as performers.

“Performing is an important part of our job,” Yates said. “We perform to continue challenging ourselves musically and technically and to provide examples of the many parts of performance to our students [such as] stage presence, working with an accompanist, and even preparation for a recital. I really wanted to perform in this recital to show my studio a big part of my daily work they don’t often have the opportunity to see.”

Cord agreed with this sentiment and said that faculty members have a responsibility to serve as models for student musicians.

“In this department, we have a terrific combination of people that have incredible performance careers but also a real passion for teaching,” Cord said. “I have always admired how hard my colleagues work to maintain a very high level of performance capability while also being innovative as teachers and finding new, effective ways to connect with our students. Things like [the faculty recital] are tools that we use as teachers. We need to be up there exemplifying this music and serving as models for our students.”

Emma Busch (‘20) | Chips
Assistant Professor of Music John Cord, Adjunct Faculty in Music Benjamin Yates (‘08), Adjunct Faculty in Music Jon Ailabouni (‘10), Adjunct Faculty in Music Rebecca Shaffer, and Associate Professor of Music Michael Smith perform the final quintet.

Attendee Zane Kittleson (‘19) enjoyed the recital as a whole and found the quintet piece, “March from Symphonic Metamorphosis,” particularly impressive.

“It’s great to see them collaborate like that,” Kittelson said. “I like how you could hear the individual characteristics of the professors on each of their instruments throughout.”

Attendee Emily Stifter (‘20) voiced her agreement.

“The whole recital was fantastic, but my favorite part was the quintet,” Stifter said. “You don’t get to hear [faculty members] play together often or even individually, so it’s great to hear them play after only experiencing them as professors for the most part.”

In the future, Cord hopes to present another brass faculty recital with more collaborative ensemble pieces.

“I’d like to do more as an ensemble,” Cord said. “We played a piece last night as a quintet and we got a great response from students and faculty. It would be fun to do a whole recital of quintet stuff. We’ve talked about doing that in the past, but we haven’t done it yet. I think that may be our next step.” 

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