Spirit of the Trumpeter

Spirit of the Trumpeter

Music, above all else, is an expression of the human experience. Throughout history, people have experienced the world in many different ways, and as a consequence, there are a variety of musical languages that express our experiences of life. Although there are external differences between musical styles and between different people, I have found that certain underlying qualities are universal to various musical genres and cultures.

Carnival season is a special time. The pageantry, the dancing, the children playing, the thrills, the magic, the mystery, the grotesque, the odd, the beautiful, a mass of people escaping the realities of everyday life, and, weaving through it all... music. Whether the carnival is in Brazil, New Orleans, Spain, or Venice, during carnival season people cast away their inhibitions and relish the joy of life. We lose sense of all boundaries behind the masks of carnival. Universally, social constraints of the rest of the year are set aside and the human spirit is set free.

Le Carnaval de Venise, arranged by Donald Hunsberger, captures the spirit of carnival because the music is carefree and joyous. The theme is simple, however we often find true happiness in the simple things: a child's laugh, an afternoon picnic in the park, the feel on one's face of a cool summer's breeze, a fleeting glance from a lover… The music of Le Carnaval de Venise ebbs to and fro. It is a motion familiar to us all, that of a mother rocking her baby to sleep…back and forth…to and fro. The simple swaying of the 6/8 time beneath the flurry of notes in Le Carnaval de Venise is what gives this piece its flavor. The music swings along in a buoyant, easy-going manner that reminds us of good times in the past and gives us hope for happy times in the future.

One evening while sitting under the Eiffel Tower in Paris, I was looking up at the colossal structure stretching up into the night sky. I could almost hear the Caprice by Eugene Bozza playing in my head. Bozza was known for his ability to capture the spirit of the instrument for which he was writing. When he composed for the trumpet, he could not ignore the fanfare nature of the instrument.

As I watched the myriad of people scaling the stairs of the formidable Eiffel Tower, I felt a sense of the grandeur to which humanity has often aspired. I realized that the sense of nobility we feel when we hear a fanfare is common to all human experience. Martin Luther King and John F. Kennedy were noble men who fought for noble causes. They believed in our common humanity and instituted change in a society that was resistant to change. The spirit of those two great men was a call to mankind to move ahead. A trumpet fanfare piercing the air was once used as a call to battle. The spirit of great leaders can be like a

anfare for others in society, waking them up and calling them forward to be courageous and bold. A trumpet fanfare is almost always a signal that something important is going to happen!

That night I heard the dark, otherworldly melodies of Bozza's Caprice intermingled with the spirited fanfares and the lively dances. In this short work we are pulled through sensations of courage, hope, longing, desire, despair, resolution, and finally, unbridled joy. These sensations cannot be claimed by any one culture or nation. As I watched the multi-cultural crowd of tourists ascend the Eiffel Tower on that summer night I was struck by the common humanity that binds us all together.

In the words of Adolphus Hailstork, “The Variations for Trumpet were written in 1981 after a trip to England with a bass and choral group that was touring many famous cathedrals. There is a hint of Plain Chant, a touch of blues, and a clear reference to the folk song “Comin' Through The Rye.”

I have had the good fortune to develop a friendship with composer Adolphus Hailstork. I first met him while performing for a music conference in Dallas, Texas. The orchestra that had been assembled was playing Hailstork's Done Made My Vow and the renowned composer was present during the rehearsal of the work. I was moved by the beauty and power of Hailstork's writing. The kind and warmhearted nature of the man betrays only a small aspect of Hailstork's total character. His music has strength and nobility yet it still laughs, cries, and dances. Adolphus Hailstork's writing has the same deeply rich variety that is imbedded in the American culture. It has been a great privilege to know him and record his music.

While working as Principal Trumpet with an orchestra in Spain, I once had to play a famous fanfare from that region. I had many colleagues who felt compelled to try to show me the exact nuances that should be used in playing the fanfare. It was then that I realized that it was more than just a matter of playing the notes a certain way — the musicians from that region tied that fanfare to their life experiences and the life experiences of their ancestors. I had discovered another similarity that seems to exist between all cultures; many people take pride in who they are, and music can be very closely tied to a person's, or nation's identity. The wonderful thing about music is that any type of person can play any style of music. There are only differences or similarities in human experience. I once spent some time listening to Korean peasant songs sung by farmers as they tilled the earth, and it sounded like blues.I asked myself, “Why does this music sound like blues?” Maybe it is because the human experience of toiling under oppressive conditions gives rise to a certain type of expression.

I begin this arrangement of La Virgin de La Macerena with a fanfare from Seville, Spain. I captured the flavor of the piece by listening to flamenco music. One can hear Spain's ancient culture as well as the influences of the Moors from the time of their occupation of the Iberian Peninsula. There is something enchanting and almost hypnotic about the repetitive chanting found in flamenco music. When called to play concerts with the famous flamenco vocal soloists in Spain I was mesmerized by their wailing chant-like song, which usually reached climactic endings with a sensational release of energy. This is the spirit of La Virgin de la Macerena. Such a spirit is not exclusive to just Spanish music; many other types of music the world over bring the listener through the same mesmerizing, tumultuous journey. Many of the works of Scriabin and Debussy, for example, are imbued with this kind of passion. And passion is one of those human traits that we all share.

Eugene Bozza's Lied is a strikingly beautiful work. The music is slow and rhythmically simple. Although this work is French in origin, the stillness and sublime beauty expressed in Lied can be found in music from all over the world.

I once visited an ancient burial garden in Taiwan. I felt a calmness I had never experienced before because of the balance and symmetry created by the careful arrangement of the plants and flowers in the garden. The entire garden was quiet and motionless. The beauty of that moment was in the stillness. And in that stillness I began to sense a connection between myself, the trees, the flowers, the plants, and every other object in the world. I began to reflect on how so many cultures and religions embrace the practice of prayer or meditation. In order to pray or meditate we must be still. During such moments of quietude one begins to see the world in more simple terms. I have experienced this sensation of serenity and calmness inside chapels, mosques, temples, and on mountaintops. Works such as Bozza's Lied remind us of the beauty that exists all around us no matter what our individual expression of spirituality.

Aaron Copland's Quiet City was composed as incidental music for a play about a diverse group of people inside a big city. Throughout history, large cities have been crossroads for cultural mixture. It is this combination that gives a big city its flavor. Of course that flavor will always be different because there are so many possibilities of mixture. There are bound to be clashes and unsureness. Perhaps that is why Aaron Copland instructs the trumpeter to begin playing “nervously.” Quiet City starts off with uncertainty, moves into unbridled passion and joy, then returns to uncertainty, but this time a muted uncertainty. The end of the work seems to be more peaceful and more sure than before. It is as if the large melodious section belays the doubt and uncertainty of the opening.

As I looked upon the ruins of the World Trade Center. I was deeply moved by the expression in the eyes of my fellow onlookers. There were people of varied skin colors, religious and national backgrounds. The look in their eyes, however, was common. In that instant I could feel our common humanity. I could feel the uncertainty that Copland wrote about in the beginning of Quiet City because we did not know what would happen next. I could also sense that somewhere amongst us existed the music in the middle ofQuiet City: the joy, passion, and freedom of spirit.

Alexander Arutunian's Concerto is one the most powerful concertos for trumpet and orchestra. It's combination of bold trumpet fanfares, gypsy-like melodies and soulful songs gives the listener a wide variety of flavors all together in one work. Arutunian is of Armenian descent and his music has a decidedly Russian influence.

Once, while a student at New England Conservatory of Music I was chosen to play a welcoming fanfare for a group of visiting Russian musicians. I remember the anxiety and excitement we all felt as we awaited the arrival of our musician colleagues from so far away. After having spent several weeks working with those musicians, we began to see that they were much more likely to give us warm hugs and congratulatory pats on the back than we wereto give them hugs and pats. Of course there were differences in style, but that is what made the experience interesting. We combined our playing styles with theirs to create something uniquely beautiful.

I learned that very often mixture creates beauty and that fear is usually based upon ignorance. We were fearful of the unknown. Once we became familiar with our Russian colleagues we discovered that we shared a lot of mutual respect and a common love of music. Our differences added to our mutual growth and development as musicians and people.

A mother's love for her child is a special thing and a lot of the sadness, anger, xenophobia, hate, and fear that exists in this world comes from a lack of love and the disregard for our common humanity. Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child is one of many traditional spirituals which has been passed down through the ages. Even though slaves in America were not considered to be completely human by their captors, the souls of those captured human beings can be heard resonating through the spirituals which they left behind.

Sadly, there are still people throughout the world who are enslaved in one form or another. They may not be in physical chains, but are chained to a less than dignified existence by laws and social systems meant to keep them from enjoying the same freedoms of others in society. I have seen firsthand how these people are doomed to live like shadows, kept in the margins of society.

When I was mistaken for a car thief who was said to have a similar skin complexion as I, I was viciously attacked without provocation by a group of undercover policemen. For that brief time I felt what it was like to be totally degraded and humiliated simply because of my appearance. I saw the world through the eyes of so many people who have been beaten and abused. Those people are human beings with the same feelings of sadness, despair, loneliness and joy that all people share. We all have a right to exist on this planet and no one has the right to decide that any one person has more or less value than another.

This rendition of Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child is my tribute to those who havenot been lucky enough to feel loved or be treated with the respect they deserve as part of the only race that exists: the human race. When humanity is seen in its totality it is truly a wonderful thing. I feel lucky to have seen so many different types of people and to see that we all have much more in common than we may think.

—Rodney Mack

Rodney Mack

The sound of Rodney Mack's trumpet has reverberated throughout the world. Whether playing baroque piccolo trumpet or interpreting works commissioned especially for him, his artistry has been enthusiastically enjoyed across the United States as well as in France, Spain, Germany, England, Greece, Rumania, Japan, Taiwan, and Korea. He has been praised by music critics from Fanfare Magazine, American Record Guide, Records International Catalog, and other international publications for his evocative interpretation, impeccable virtuosity, and beauty of sound.

Rodney Mack has worked under the baton of world renown conductors such as Leonard Bernstein, Michael Tilson Thomas, Gerard Schwarz, James Depriest, John Williams, and Jesus Lopez- Cobos. His collaborations have also included personalities such as Harry Connick Jr., Doc Sevrinson, Al Hirt, and Branford Marsalis.

Mr. Mack was born in New Orleans, Louisiana where he began his musical studies at the age of six. When he was eleven years of age, he began taking classical trumpet lessons with his cousin, Wynton Marsalis. He made his solo debut at the age of fifteen with the New Orleans Symphony. After having won various solo competitions, he went on to gain national attention at the age of nineteen performing as soloist with the Boston Pops Orchestra. He has also appeared as soloist with the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, the San Diego Symphony, the Tenerife Symphony, the Orquestra Sinfonica de Barcelona i Nacional de Catalunya, and with other ensembles throughout the United States and Europe.

Mr. Mack has made several world premier recordings including Sonata for Trumpet and Piano by Adolphus Hailstork and In Our Own House by composer Alvin Singleton with saxophonist Branford Marsalis and pianist Karen Walwyn. In 1998 Rodney Mack made the premier and critically acclaimed recording of Franz Waxman's Carmen Fantasy for Trumpet and Orchestra with conductor Lawrence Foster and the Orquestra Sinfonica de Barcelona i Nacional de Catalunya.

Rodney Mack can be heard with the Orquestra Sinfonica de Barcelona i Nacional de Catalunya on the Decca, Naxos, and Koch International Classics labels.

Karen Walwyn

Classical concert pianist Karen Walwyn made her New York recital debut at Merkin Hall. The concert was quickly followed by her debut performance on National Public Radio (NPR). Her most noted performances have included works from her compact discs entitled Dark Fires: 20th Century Music for Piano, Vol. I and Dark Fires: Walwyn and Friends, Vol. II (Albany Records). Articles and reviews in response to these recordings have appeared in the Washington Post, Fanfare, American Record Guide, Records International Catalogue, and the Detroit Free Press, and as a result she has quickly become in high demand across the United States and in Europe.

“Walwyn was fearless throughout, managing every challenge with precise fingers and heroic command of textures.” (The Cleveland Plain Dealer) of her performance for the Musart Series at the Cleveland Museum of Art. Walwyn has given masterclasses and performances of her repertoire of African American 20th Century and 19th Century European works in concert halls throughout the world.

The pianism of Karen Walwyn lends to her artistic abilities as a communicator. The American Record Guide says, “Walwyn is a confident and impressive pianist.....” According to the Washington Post, “Karen Walwyn shows considerable range...she is virtuosic, meditative, energetic...and vividly evocative ....”

Karen Walwyn has given masterclasses and performances of her repretoire of African American 20th-cetury and 19th-century European work in concert halls throughout the world. Dr. Walwyn has served on the faculties of the School of Music at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor MI and at Southwest Missouri State University, Springfield Missouri. She has also served on the The Badalona Conservatory in Barcelona, Spain, The Conservatorio Privada de Musica in Tenerife, Canary Islands, and at the Centre d'Educacio Musical, Terrassa, Spain.

Publishers and Copyright information

Aaron Copland/Peter Wastall, arr: Quiet City: Boosey & Hawkes, Inc. (first recording)

Alexander Artunian: Concerto: Published by International Music Company (first recording)

Charles Koff, arr: La Virgin de la Macerena: Copyright 1951 by Koff Music Co., Los Angeles, California (first recording)

Eugene Bozza: Lied: Copyright 1976 Alphonse Leduc

Eugene Bozza: Caprice: Copyright 1943 Alphonse Leduc

Adolphus Hailstork: Variations for Trumpet: Published by Judy Green Music, Hollywood CA 90028 (first recording)

Jean-Baptiste Arban: Le Carnaval de Venise: Published by Carl Fischer (first recording)

Thanks for the inspiration:

George Jansen, Wynton Marsalis, Branford Marsalis, Roger Voisin, Rob Roy McGregor, Manuel Laureano, Rolf Smedvig, Joe Foley, Michael Bucalo, Ronald Benko, Paul Randall, Jim Hamlin, James Jenkins, Charles Schleuter, Frank Kaderabek

Thanks for the support:

Richard and Barbara Mack, Denise Mack, Dana Mack, Brian and Barbara Lewis, Ellis and Dolores Marsalis, Clarence, Marquita and Brandon Hester, Clarence and Dorothy Tyler, Claude, Tanya and Elay Walwyn, Lawrence Foster, Mark Russell Smith and Ellen Dinwiddie Smith, Dennis Jeter, Susan Bush, Montserrrat Comadira, Marlon, Rachel, Kent Jordan, Dr. Bert Breaux, John Otis, Mark Harper, Dr. Vincent Morelli, Sally Perry, Armenta Hummings, Dennis Jeter, Mark Niehaus, Wayne Dumaine, Dr. Armond A. Devezin, Lauren Bernofsky, Montserrat Grau, Abili Fort, Joan Oller, Gerard Claret, Lisa Muckley, Susan Vincent, Donald Hunsberger, Gary Graffman, Robert Fitzpatrick, Reverend Dwight Webster, Trudell Webster, Hezekiah Brinson, Alvin Singleton, Adolphus Hailstork, Gerard Schwarz

Special thanks to:

Kwasi Mfume (President, NAACP) and Robert Levine (President, ICSOM)

This recording is dedicated to the light of my life, my wife, Dr. Karen Walwyn-Mack


Recording engineers: Robert Ballester & Ferran Conangla

Assistant engineer: Marc Soldevila

Pro-tools mixing & mastering engineer: Ferran Conangla

Recorded, mixed & mastered at Bit a beat & bemasbe Studios (Barcelona) December 2001

Cover design:Bates Miyamoto Design