Horn Lessons in Brooklyn
9/29 - An article by Joseph Berger in the Sept. 29th issue of the NY Times claims that in his corner of the Hasidic neighborhood of Brooklyn, NY Rabbi Levi Yitzchok Meisner has achieved the status of Louis Armstrong but it's not the trumpet but as a teacher of the shofar that has made him a star. It's the busy season for Rabi Meisner as the Jewish High Holidays approach and scores of people seek him out for lessons on how to blow the shofar. The description of his teaching philosophy is reminiscent of some of the embouchure advise attributed to great trumpet teachers such as Adolf Herseth, emphasis on relaxation. Evidently, some things never change!
Frank Tomes (1936-2011)
9/20 - Francis James Tomes (1936-2011)
Frank Tomes was born in South Wimbledon, London on 16 August 1936. After leaving school at the age of 15, Frank started his first employment as an apprentice in a workshop in London making parts for model boats, the sort that find themselves exhibited in museums. With this experience behind him he then joined the world famous Morris Singer foundry, amongst many other things, they had made the four huge bronze lions in London’s Trafalgar Square. Here Frank began learning his skills casting bronze sculptures for people as famous as Reg Butler and Barbara Hepworth. In 1954 Frank enrolled as a Foundation Stage student at the Wimbledon School of Art. His enthusiasm and work impressed both his peers and his teachers. Enrolment in the Royal Academy Schools was the next of Frank’s adventures. Here, he studied for a degree in Fine Art and Sculpture. Later, he returned to work at Wimbledon School of Art as a technician in the sculpture department, where he worked for 40 years. Whilst a student at the Royal Academy Schools, Frank began playing the banjo with a jazz group that had been formed at the school. The banjo player, extended himself, and became also a player of the sousaphone. This cemented a life long love for brass instruments.
In 1964, as a sousaphone player, Frank joined the New Society Dance Orchestra. In 1968 he became a founder member of Bob Kerr's Whoopee Band. This bunch of wacky and eccentric musicians, gained a cult following. Frank and the Whoopees toured extensively and made many TV appearances, recordings and films in both the UK and on the European mainland. They played venues as diverse as London’s 100 Club, Liverpool’s legendary Cavern Club, the Royal Festival Hall and the Royal Opera House, playing on the same bill as groups such as The Who, Black Sabbath, Bob Dylan and Queen. One comic routine with the Whoopees involved the throwing of a rubber chicken into the bell of Frank’s sousaphone as he played a solo. On one occasion someone had the idea to surprise Frank by throwing a real chicken into the bell instead. Frank was knocked over backwards by the weight of the chicken but still stunned the audience by producing an egg from his mouth at the end of the solo.
During his musical career, Frank also played with The Sunday Band and the Mike Miller Swanee Four. In 1978, he married his wife Sue. Together they turned a run down old cottage in Merton Park into a beautiful and character filled home.
Frank was an inveterate and eclectic collector of beautiful things - books, candlesnuffers, clocks, mechanical toys, just to mention a few. One of the many delights of visiting Frank was the excitement he would show at the latest addition to one of his collections. The delight Frank showed in these old and beautiful things seemed to be crowned by his study of the craftsmanship of those that had fashioned them. He loved to share these things with others. A beautiful 16th century woodcut print depicting the Transylvanian Unicorn, complete with a detailed description of its diet, reproductive habits as well as the medicinal uses of its powdered horn, was a favorite to share.
Perhaps the most notable collection is the impressive one of early brass instruments that he amassed. In 1982, in order to be able to restore instruments within his collection, Frank undertook a course in brass instrument repair. Shortly afterwards he took over the brass work for Christopher Monk. This involved making sackbutts, serpent crooks, key work and anything else needed. This work inspired Frank to develop a range of early brass instruments of his own.
Frank produced an impressive total of 387 instruments from his Wimbledon workshop. They are to be found with professionals, amateurs, conservatoires and universities all over the world. His instruments have been, and continue to be heard in concerts and recordings internationally. Alto, tenor and bass sackbutts, the first “flatt” trumpets made to Talbots description, a copy of the fourteenth century “Billingsgate” trumpet, a copy of a trumpet by William Bull and a copy of one of the three 1746 Johann Leonhard Ehe “Bishops” trumpets from Nurnberg.
The legacy he leaves to the international Early Brass movement is notable.
Frank made his last instrument during 2010. As early as 2008 Frank had taken the decision to retire from instrument building. He wanted time to restore the old instruments in his collection and to be free to enjoy his home life, his beloved London and its varied arts world. He invited the writer to become his apprentice as an instrument maker, feeling that he wanted something of what he had built up to be carried on. As a result, the writer had the privilege of spending hundreds of hours learning from him. Frank’s level of skill and knowledge really was something to be held in awe and what he taught was given with the most exceptional care and humility.
After a battle against cancer, Frank left us on 27 July 2011. Frank Tomes was a man of genuine kindness, gentleness, generosity and great humour. He will be sadly missed.
-- David Staff
9/7 - The Institut de Recherche sur le Patrimoine Musical en France (CNRS) and the Musée de l'Armée will be hosting a Serpent Colloquia 6-7 October 2011 in Paris. For a list of featured presentations and concerts see http://serpent.instrument.free.fr/ and http://www.irpmf.cnrs.fr/.
Journal of the RMA Article on Trumpets
7/19 - The current volume of the Journal of the Royal Musical Association (Vol. 136/1) includes an article of interest to Brass Historians: "Defining the City ‘Trumpeter’: German Civic Identity and the Employment of Brass Instrumentalists, c.1500" by
Helen Green. The abstract is available by following this link.
Library of Congress "Jukebox"
7/14 - The Library of Congress has released 10,000 historic recordings, some in the public domain and some under license, all from the early-twentieth century. Many of these feature brass bands and soloists. A quick search indicated over 200 cornet solo recordings, about the same number of trombone recordings, and many band recordings of numerous styles. A search for "Arban" resulted in a recording of Bohumir Kryl playing the Carnival of Venice but he was listed as playing euphonium instead of cornet. Perhaps Kryl's famous pedal tones confused the librarian who listed that record entry.
To browse or search, click here.
[BP: my favorite so far is a crisp recording of Haydn's "Military" Symphony by Banda del Real Cuerpo de Guardias Alabarderos de Madrid from the Haydn centenary of 1909]
Cambridge Horn Day with the Tony Halstead Horn Ensemble
8/1 On Sunday 22 January 2012, from 9:3-6:00 Sawston Villiage College will host the "Cambridge Horn Day"
Tony Halstead joined by some of the UK's top Horn Players plus a rhythm section will perform a concert at 5:00 and will deliver what promises to be a truly exciting full-day experience including:
• Hear, meet and play with the Tony Halstead Horn Ensemble
• Various Ensembles for differing abilities
• Concerts by the Tony Halstead Horn Ensemble
• Trade Stands by 'Halstead Music' (Kent) and 'Wood, Wind & Reed'(Cambridge)
• Master classes and Demonstration Concerts
• End of Day Concert for family and friends
Venue: Sawston Village College, New Road, Sawston.Cambridgeshire CB22 3BP.UK
Ample free parking and excellent rehearsal and performance spaces within its new performing arts centre.
Anyone who plays the horn is invited - we welcome all players from school age to retirement and abilities from Grade 1 to Diploma and beyond. Free entry for any teacher with 3 or more students.
For further information cntact the ACE Foundation by calling 01223 499707 or by
Call for Nominations: Thelen Dissertation Prize 2012
8/3 - IGEB (The International Society for the Promotion and Research of Wind Music) invites nominations for the 2012 Thelen Prize. Established to commemorate Fritz Thelen (1906–93), one of IGEB’s co-founders, the prize is awarded to the writer of an outstanding dissertation in the field of wind music research.
Nominations, including self-nominations, are invited for dissertations completed between 2009 and December 2011. Dissertations may be on any subject concerning wind music, in any language, from any country, worldwide.
In addition to a plaque, the winner will be invited to present a paper at the next meeting of the Society, to be held in Coimbra, Portugal, July 12-17, 2012. The dissertation will also be considered for publication in IGEB’s Reprints und Manuscripts or the Alta Musica series. The titles and abstracts of all submitted dissertations will be announced in the Mitteilungsblatt, the Society’s Newsletter.
Nominations should include the following:
one paper copy
digital file – .pdf file
Deadline: October 24, 2011
Send to: IGEB
c/o Doris Schweinzer
Email for more information or visit www.igeb.net
Shofar Study Day
8/25 - Shofar blowers around the world will soon be teaching how to blow shofar, and gathering with other shofarists to practice, study, and learn from each other. This is the vision of a quartet of shofarists that has called for an International Day of Shofar Study beginning on the evening of Monday 29 August and continuing through Wednesday 31 August.
In Los Angeles, shofarists will gather Tuesday, August 30, 2011 to learn from each other, swap stories, and share tips for sounding shofar. The event is for ba-alei tekiah (shofar master blasters) who seek to take their shofar experience to a higher level. The event takes place from 7:00-9:00PM and is hosted by Shalom House (www.ShalomHouse.com), 19740 Ventura Blvd., Woodland Hills, CA 91364. Attendance if free. Reservations are recommended and can be sent to
Other events are scheduled in San Francisco, New York City, Philadelphia, Northern New Jersey, Cincinnati, and the United Kingdom. More information and a full list of events are at www.ShofarCorps.org
"Tutankhamun's Trumpets" in the News
4/17 - The BBC recently ran a story on the theft (and recovery) of an ancent Egyptian trumpet during the recent political unrest in that country. For the story, click here. Included is an old recording of both instruments being played (on random modern bugle calls).
Cecilia-Concert 17th c. Music Course (Bruce Dickey and Adam Woolf)
3/9 - Caecilia-Concert will be giving a 17th-century music course this summer (August 22-27, 2011) in conjunction with the Utrecht Early Music Festival. This course offers early music students, young professionals and advanced amateurs a rare opportunity to play 17th-century chamber music in this exciting combination of winds and strings coached by internationally-renowned performers. The course coincides with the Utrecht Oude Muziek Festival 2011, culminating in a concert as part of the festival. The participants will work in chamber music groups coached by members of the Caecilia-Concert (including Bruce Dickey on cornetto and Adam Woolf on Baroque trombone). The focus will be on ensemble playing in mean-tone, instrumental instruction, and 17th-century basso continuo playing on different keyboard and plucked instruments. In addition, there will be room for private lessons. For more information, see www.caecilia-concert.com.
Street Musicians Collective
2/22 - Trumpeter Reginald Conyers is looking to establish a collective of street musician brass players to perform a wide range of classical repertoire. His goal is to help bring back the art of busking and provide a vibrant source of performance opportunities.
Message from the HBS President
This past year was a productive one for the HBS. The 2010 HBS Journal is now out and I hope you enjoy the many fine articles in it. Once again the HBS presented our annual Early Brass Festival in Northfield, MN in collaboration with Paul Niemisto and the Vintage Band Festival. It was a fabulous success with many interesting lectures, fun playing sessions and performances by over 20 period instrument ensembles. Special thanks to Paul for his support.
The two most recent recipients of the HBS Christopher Monk Award has recently been announced. Jean-François Madeuf (2009) and Dan Morgenstern (2010) were given the Award and we offer them kudos and our sincere thanks for their work.
Many will remember the Symposium that the HBS presented in Amherst in 1995. It was the largest gathering of early brass performers, scholars, collectors, and currators ever assembled. Practically every major early brass musician was in attendance. The HBS will replicate that event in scale and scope with the planned 2nd International Historic
Brass Symposium: Repertoire, Performances and Culture, which will take place at the New School Jazz and Contemporary Music Program in New York City on Thursday July 12 –Sunday July 15, 2012. Once again, we anticipate the participation of all major early brass musicians. At this early stage, tentative participants include Bruce Dickey, Jean Tubery, Jeremy West, Jean-Pierre Canihac, Michael Collver, Jean-François Madeuf, Crispian Steele-Perkins, Edward Tarr, Friedemann Immer, Gabriele Cassone, Bob Civiletti, Ralph Dudgeon, Anneke Scott, Jeff Snedeker, Richard Seraphinoff, Daniel Lassalle, Sylvain Delvaux , Fabrice Millischer, Wim Becu, Adam Woolf, Benny Sluchin, Michel Godard, Volny Hostiou, Cliff Bevan, Kathryn Cok, Wouter Verschuren, Trevor Herbert, Keith Polk, Renato Meucci, Stew Carter, Howard Weiner, Arnold Myers, Herbert Heyde, and many more.
Due to various factors, the 2011 HBS Early Brass Festival scheduled to be held in Bloomington, IN has been cancelled. It was felt that the HBS resources would best be put toward organizing the above mentioned symposium in NYC in July 2012. The Barclay/Seraphinoff Natural Trumpet Making Workshop (Monday, August 1 – Friday August 5) will still take place.
If you have news of your musical activities, do send us a report for the newly revised and updated HBS website www.historicbrass.org . Our webmaster Steve Lundahl and web editor Bryan Proksch have been working hard at maintaining the site, posting news items, articles, and music, recording, and book reviews.
Thanks for your continued support,
President, Historic Brass Society
17th Century Music Lecture and Concert
3/29 - Robert V. Giglio, student of Historical Brass Performance (cornetto) and Musicology at the Purchase Conservatory of Music (Purchase, NY), will be giving a Lecture/Demonstration on the progression of the sonata as a Baroque genre. The evening will begin with a discussion of 17th Century Venice: Gabrieli's Generation, the Venetian Stil Moderno and the mysterious lives of Dario Castello and Giovanni Battista Fontana. The differentiation between transalpine and Italian composers of the late 17th/early 18th century will then be explored. The lecture will culminate in a discussion of the Bach violin sonatas. Music of the above composers will be performed by the Purchase Early Music Ensemble players.
The event will take place on Sunday April 17th at 8 PM at the Purchase Conservatory of Music, Purchase NY in the Conservatory's Recital Hall, and it is free of charge.
HBS Symposium in New York City, July 2012
2/21 - Many will remember the Symposium that the HBS presented in Amherst in 1995. It was the largest gathering of early brass performers, scholars, collectors, and currators ever assembled. Practically every major early brass musician was in attendance. The HBS will replicate that event in scale and scope with the planned 2nd International Historic Brass Symposium: Repertoire, Performances and Culture, which will take place at the New School Jazz and Contemporary Music Program in New York City on Thursday July 12 –Sunday July 15, 2012. Once again, we anticipate the participation of all major early brass musicians. At this early stage, tentative participants include Crispian Steele-Perkins, Edward Tarr, Friedemann Immer, Gabriele Cassone, Bruce Dickey, Jean Tubery, Jeremy West, Bob Civiletti, Ralph Dudgeon, Anneke Scott, Jean-Pierre Canihac, Michael Collver, Jean-François Madeuf, Jeff Snedeker, Richard Seraphinoff, Daniel Lassalle, Sylvain Delvaux , Fabrice Millischer, Wim Becu, Adam Woolf, Benny Sluchin, Michel Godard, Volny Hostiou, Cliff Bevan, Kathryn Cok, Wouter Verschuren, Trevor Herbert, Keith Polk, Renato Meucci, Stew Carter, Howard Weiner, Arnold Myers, Herbert Heyde, and many more. More information will follow.
2011 HBS Early Brass Festival and Conference
2/21 - 2011 EBF Cancelled.
As a result of low registration and other factors, the 2011 HBS Early Brass Festival scheduled to be held in Bloomington, IN has been cancelled. It was felt that the HBS resources would best be put toward organizing the International HBS Symposium in NYC to be held on Thursday July 12th - Sunday July 15th, 2012 (see above). The Barclay/Seraphinoff Natural Trumpet Making Workshop (Monday, August 1 – Friday August 5) will still take place.
Monk Award Recipients
1/17 - The HBS is happy to announce the reciepients of the 2009 and 2010 Christopher Monk Awards.
The 2009 award went to Jean-François Madeuf for his significant contributions as a performer and teacher and his dedication to historically informed performance practice.
The 2010 award was presented to Dan Morgenstern for his life-long contributions to the study and appreciation of jazz, including a myriad of great brass players from Louis Armstrong to the present.
Those HBS members in good standing wishing to nominate someone for the 2011 award must do so by February 1, 2011. Please see the Christopher Monk Award for further information on the nominations procedure.