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November 29, 2004
Trombonist Alessi slides into 10-day Emory residency
BY Sally Corbett
Joe Alessi, master trombone player and principal trombonist of the New York Philharmonic, will turn the Schwartz Center into a “Slide Area,” Nov. 28–Dec. 7, with free events spotlighting his talents on the brass instrument that “slides.”
Alessi’s 10-day Emory Coca-Cola Artist Residency puts today’s leading trombonist center stage with the distinctive instrument that first made its appearance during the Renaissance. A fourth-generation brass player, Alessi was first taught by his father. During high school he was tapped by the San Francisco Symphony as soloist. He has performed internationally with leading orchestras and bands, and The New York Times called his playing “absolutely splendid,” commending his “extraordinary accuracy” and rhythmic dexterity.”
Alessi’s 11-album discography includes Slide Area, which shares its name with his website (www.slidearea.com). His award-winning career also includes various teaching gigs, from his faculty post at The Juilliard School to online tips for trombonists and instructional seminars and publications.
Scott Stewart, director of Wind Studies and conductor of the Emory Wind Ensemble and Atlanta Youth Wind Symphony, coordinated Alessi’s residency. “When Emory’s residency program was established, Joe leapt into my mind because the series calls for artists at the top of their field to interact with students and the community,” Stewart said. “He was a perfect choice as principal trombone for one of the finest orchestras in the world and an active educator.”
Emory is a leader in commissioning works for wind ensemble, having received grants, participated in consortiums, and premiered eight works since 1999. “With our interest in commissioning and our residency goals, we developed events we felt were most beneficial to students in the program,” Stewart said.
The residency is expected to attract musicians from throughout the region. Sixteen trombonists affiliated with Emory—members of Emory Wind Ensemble (EWE), Emory Symphony Orchestra (ESO), Emory Jazz Ensemble and Atlanta Youth Wind Symphony (AYWS)—will be major beneficiaries of Alessi’s visit.
Alessi’s residency began yesterday, Nov. 28, with a trombone master class for select musicians. The public was invited to observe the class, which was followed by an informal artist talk and reception.
Today and tomorrow (Nov. 29–30) Alessi will hold open rehearsals in the Schwartz Center. On Nov. 29, two rehearsals will be held; one from 5–7 p.m. in Emerson Concert Hall for EWE, and another from 7:30–9:30 p.m. in Tharp Rehearsal Hall for AYWS. The Nov. 30 open rehearsal will be 5–7 p.m. in Tharp. A final open rehearsal for AYWS will be held Dec. 5 from 5:30–7:30 p.m. in Emerson Hall.
“Rehearsals are a chance to see musicians in their element—to see music being put together, which includes mistakes, corrections, discussion about balance and blend, and interaction among conductors, composers, soloists, and performers,” Stewart said. “In many ways they’re more candid and spontaneous than a performance.”
On Dec. 1 at 8 p.m. in Emerson Hall, Alessi will join Stewart and EWE for “Winterscape,” a concert highlighted by the Southeast premier of guest composer Eric Ewazen’s “Visions of Light.” The program also includes a works by Schubert and Tchaikovsky, Wilson’s “Shortcut Home” (2003), Ewazen’s “Flight” (celebrating the centenary of flight), Arnold’s “English Dances” (1951), Rindfleisch’s “The Light Fantastic” (2001) and Cook’s arrangement of Richardson’s “Bolivar” (1955).
On Dec. 6 at 8 p.m. (Emerson Concert Hall), Alessi will perform with AYWS, Columbus State University Wind Ensemble and guest conductor Robert Rumbelow. The program is Grantham’s “J.S. Dance”; Arutiunian’s “Rhapsody for Trumpet and Winds”; Sparke’s “Dance Movements”; Lavender’s “Sound the Bells!” (1993); Appermont’s “Colors for Trombone and Wind Ensemble” (1999); Ticheli’s Symphony No. 2 (2004); and Simons’ “The Volunteer.”
A schedule of Alessi’s residency can be found at www.arts.emory.edu.