They'll blow you away
Music professors produce rare CD of solo trumpet works
Research at UTA. The phrase evokes images of masked figures in white jumpsuits, moving phantom-like around the Nanotechnology Research and Teaching Facility. Or chemists bent over state-of-the-art spectrometers. Or geologists studying plate tectonics to predict the distribution of Earth’s land masses a few thousand years in the future.
Probably not trumpets. Yet it was trumpet research that sent Rick Bogard and John Solomons to a dark, un-air-conditioned Irons Recital Hall last summer to spend 12 hours recording Dr. Bogard’s unique study results.
The problem he set out to solve was the near nonexistence of “pleasurable” solo repertoire for the trumpet.
“For about a 130-year time period, beginning in the early 1800s, there were no solo pieces written for the trumpet,” said Bogard, an assistant professor whose commitment to music began with piano lessons in the Baptist Church when he was 6. “Unlike violin or piano or even voice, there was little music written for trumpet solos, and what there was was complex, technical and just not very listenable.”
Bogard tours extensively in addition to teaching 16 students a semester, playing in the Dallas Opera Orchestra and occasionally playing and recording with the Dallas Symphony. He noticed a pattern of response from his audiences.
“It wasn’t the pieces that were very academic—the hardest and most technically complex works—that the average listener responded to,” he observed. “It was always the pieces that were more familiar. … And there were not very many of those to choose from.”
So Bogard, who began playing trumpet in the sixth grade, decided to increase the options, looking to the greener pastures of vocal music. He scoured the music racks at discount bookstores for interesting vocal CDs. His colleagues on the vocal faculty offered helpful suggestions as well.
Then he applied for a research enhancement program grant from the UTA Office of Research to record his newly developed repertoire. Associate Professor Elizabeth Morrow, who received one of the grants to record music for the cello by contemporary composers, says the grants are vital because they provide money to make the recordings. A recording company is now distributing her CD internationally.
With Bogard’s grant approved and a commitment from Centaur Records to distribute the CD, the process wrapped up in July and August. Producing a quality recording demands complete silence, so the air-conditioner in Irons Recital Hall had to be turned off. And the lights, too, because of the fluorescent hum.
“There we were in Irons Hall, in the dark except for stand lights. We started about 7 p.m. and worked about three hours before it got too hot,” Bogard said, adding that heat affects the trumpet’s pitch. The recording required four 3-hour sessions.
Solomons, an assistant professor of music, accompanied Bogard on the piano. Bogard refers to the finished product, which includes pieces from Tchaikovsky, Debussy, Ravel and other 19th- and 20th-century composers, as “our recording.”
According to Bogard’s wife, Kathy, once her husband had the idea for the project, there was no doubt that he would follow through. She calls him talented, hard working and totally committed.
“And I am right in line behind the trumpet in his list of priorities,” she said jokingly of her husband, whom she has known since first grade.
The CD, Trumpet Songs: Art Songs of the 19th and 20th Centuries, is available at www.centaurrecords.com, amazon.com and selected music retailers.
— Sue Stevens