On Jan. 30, people began gathering in the Ida Waldran Auditorium. Some were students of UCA and Tech while others came from as far Springfield, Missouri. A hush fell over the crowd as the lights dimmed.
A light blast of trombones filled the room before a group of students took the stage to play Michael Terry’s “Fanfare”. Afterward, the concert’s star performer took center stage: Joseph Alessi, the principal trombone of th New York Philharmonic and professor of trombone at the Julliard School of music.
Alessi concluded his visit to UCA with the Jan. 30 concert, performing alongside UCA’s Natural Slides Trombone Ensemble and the BearBones Trombone Choir.
“There’s no other instrument choir that sounds better [than the trombone],” Alessi said during the concert. He then playfully apologized to other musical choirs.
Alessi played solos in Hoagy Carmichael’s “Georgia On My Mind”, Nicola Ferro’s “Super Bone” and Thom Ritter-George’s “Aria and Dance” with the UCA trombonists. Alessi then closed the show by conducting the choirs during their performance of James Kazik’s “Fire and Stone” and John Williams’ “Olympic Fanfare”.
Alessi’s visit attracted attention to the Natural Slides Trombone Choir and the BearBones Trombone Choir.
“Because he drove such a crowd it showcases some of the fabulous things we have happening here on campus … I’ve already gotten like a thousand messages telling me how great the kids here sound,” Cook said.
The performance ended with thunderous applause and a standing ovation.
After the concert, Alessi signed autographs and met concert attendees.
Ryan Wilder, a senior at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and a trombone player himself, got to meet Alessi.
“He [Alessi] lived up to his reputation being one of the greatest in the world,” Wilder said.
During his stay at UCA, Alessi taught master classes and rehearsed with the UCA Wind Ensemble in preparation for a joint performance at Carnegie Hall in April.
Assistant Professor of Trombone Justin Cook said Alessi is an excellent teacher.
“Watching him teach is just incredible,” Cook said.
Sophomore Zac Fulmer, one of the students who got to play with Alessi, said he benefited from the experience.
“There’s a level of technical skill you realize you only get when you put in a lot of time. You can tell that Alessi does,” Fulmer said.
The Department of Music, Student Government Association, the BearBones Trombone Choir and the UCA’s Office of the President helped fund Alessi’s visit. They also helped fund the wind ensemble’s upcoming trip to Carnegie Hall.
photo courtesy of slidearea.com