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REVIEW: BUTI tuba recital at Trinity Church in Lenox

After watching these guys suck up gallons of air and force it through all those yards of brass tubing, "Ride of the Valkyries" will never be the same.  

Lenox — Nobody expects a tuba solo. Not even a professional tubist. That’s because solo pieces for tuba are as scarce as hens’ teeth. Nobody knows this better than Mike Roylance, principal tuba of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Mr. Roylance founded the Tuba/Euphonium Workshop at Boston University Tanglewood Institute (BUTI) and co-directs it with Claude Kashnig. He and Claude presented a faculty tuba recital Friday, June 21, at Trinity Church, along with fellow tubists Eric Goode (one of Mr. Roylance’s students), Bob Carpenter (principal tuba of the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra) and Berkshire Edge contributor Eli Newberger.

Friday’s program was rich, varied, and challenging — for both players and listeners. After watching these guys suck up gallons of air and force it through all those yards of brass tubing, “Ride of the Valkyries” will never be the same.

To open the show, Mr. Roylance performed a famous piece of music that few tubists ever want to see on their music stands, a piece written for solo cello that is known to offer even virtuoso cellists a harrowing thrill ride: J.S. Bach’s Suite No. 1 in G Major, BWV 1007. Performing this number on tuba is a feat undertaken only by the most intrepid of daredevils.

Also on the program: The world premiere of John Ryther’s “Sonata for Tuba and Piano,” performed by Bob Carpenter; “Introduction and Dance” by Joseph Édouard Barat; and the world premiere of Eric Copeland’s “The Tubist’s Rival.”

For their encore, the four were joined by Eli Newberger to play a five-tuba arrangement of a Scott Joplin rag. Sweet.

Run under the auspices of Boston University College of Fine Arts, Boston University Tanglewood Institute is a summer music training program for students ages 10 to 20. Located in Lenox, BUTI presents more than 70 performances each summer, and most are free and open to the public.

See also: Berkshire High Peaks Festival

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