CANADIAN BRASS RECENT EDUCATIONAL OUTREACH
Brandon Ridenour, trumpet, recently shared his memories and experiences of his trips to Tokyo and Hakodate accrediting his girlfriend, Naomi Kudo, with helping him to acclimatize to a culture and a country that is literally “on the other side of the planet from us.” Brandon’s busy schedule in Japan began with travelling to Hakodate, in northern Japan, for a live interview at the local radio station, followed immediately by his first Conn-Selmer clinic. Brandon worked with one hundred high-school students, developing breathing exercises, quick fingering techniques, and even helping one particular girl to feel more comfortable in front of an audience. Brandon and Naomi played concerts together in Hakodate and then in Tokyo where Conn-Selmer had also organized a master-class. Paralleling the attitude that Brandon maintains as trumpet player in the Canadian Brass, he emphasized the power of “simply communicating through music,” as a means of dispelling the stiffness and stifled breathing that seems to always accompany a performer’s nerves.
Eric’s journey to Seoul, South Korea, with his wife Sarah and her parents, was similarly eye-opening and encouraging. Eric and his family were received by Masa, Conn-Selmer’s Pacific representative, and were led directly to a district of Seoul where Eric would be leading the clinic. The event was co-sponsored by a company called A&M, and consisted of fifty attendees that ranged from high-school students to teachers and professionals from the local orchestras. He heard a large range of musical selections, including both standard and challenging works by Strauss, Mozart, Beethoven and Haydn, all prepared at a very high standard.
A particularly courageous student even performed a movement of a Bach cello suite. As an overall emphasis to the master class, Eric focused on presentation, i.e., how a performer presents himself to an audience from the moment he steps onto the stage until the applause ends. With invaluable help from a very qualified translator, the students, shy at first, learned to introduce themselves and the music, and how to present their performance in a confident and generous manner. This required particular courage in a room full of their peers, teachers and mentors, which Eric stressed as a huge accomplishment for these young musicians. “The reception was truly warm, welcoming, and excited by new ideas,” says Eric, “I’m looking forward to continuing our relationship with Conn-Selmer in Asia.” In fact, the Brass is slated to have its long awaited return to Japan next summer, so Pacific brass fans won’t have to wait much longer to be reunited with Eric and Brandon.