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Why You Should Have Been at the ITG Conference

May 27, 2014

Last week the International Trumpet Guild held their annual conference in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. It was spectacular. As I like to simplify everything, this post will deal with the three reasons you should have been there.

1. The People

The conference is a great time to reconnect with old friends. This year I was happy to be able to spend some time playing and hanging out with Al Hood. Al is the Professor of Trumpet at the University of Denver. We first met in the summer of 1982 at a 6-week summer jazz camp at the Eastman School of Music. Where else could we find the time to spend some time together and do some playing? There were many other friends there, but I mentioned Al as I think I’ve known him the longest.

This year was filled with world class players, many of whom I’ve never had the opportunity to see. When I walked in to the rehearsal for the opening concert, Tine Thing Helseth was playing. Never having seen her play live, I walked up and sat in the front. She sounded fantastic, and was the first of many players that I got to see for the first time.

The ITG conference is a great place to make new friends. This year I was featured on both a panel demonstration/discussion on lead playing and as a soloist with the Philly Big Band. Also playing on the panel was the leader of the Philly Big Band: Matt Gallagher. Although this was our first time meeting, Matt instantly felt like an old friend.

2. The Presentations

The variety and high level of music and music making was truly astounding. A short (but nowhere near comprehensive) list of what went on included: Trumpet Ensembles- Trombamania, Tromba Mundi, The New York Trumpet Ensemble; Classical Soloists- Eric Aubier, Chris Gekker, Terry Everson; Jazz Soloists- Sean Jones, Marquis Hill, Graham Breedlove; Historical Performances- Gabriele Cassone, Crispian Steele-Perkins, Friedemann Immer. There were an unbelievable amount of world class performances.

There were also great classes. My good friend Scott Belck gave a class on how to read waveforms as a practice tool. It’s amazing how different notes can look in that format. Tony Kadleck and James De La Garza talked about what it’s like to be a Broadway trumpet player.

3.The Stuff

With the number of music stores, especially that carry professional equipment, declining, the ITG conference is probably the best place in the world to try out stuff. The exhibits were spread out this year with the floor plans clearly laid out in the front of the Conference Program. Having the exhibits in several rooms works very well. Noise can always be a problem, so spreading everyone out helps.

I like to keep up with what is available in the trumpet world. Although I’m very happy with my B&S trumpets, I was happy to try out all kinds of horns. I talked with a gentleman that has half of his trumpet encased in wood and an interesting theory on why he believes that to be the way to go. Bach has recently (re)discovered the #1 bell design by Vincent Bach, and brought 2 prototype lead/commercial horns built around the “new” bell. Hub van Laar, whose horns I’ve never had the opportunity to even try, brought several trumpets and flugelhorns. There’s no other place you could compare and contrast a couple of different G trumpets, play test multiple plastic trumpets (I’m sticking with my Tiger, and not just because it’s the only brand making pink), try out horns with the person who made it right there, like Fred Powell (whose horns are terrific), as well as find every accessory you could imagine.

Interestingly enough, trumpet players will work hard to find what’s wrong instead of celebrating what was right. It’s too easy to ask why Player X or Player Y wasn’t included (especially if you’re Player X or Player Y). I was featured this year, but attended the conferences in Grand Rapids last year and Minneapolis two years ago and found both to be very enjoyable. Take a minute to consider how much goes in to putting on this conference, and how far in advance the planning is done. It’s quite the balancing act of players, exhibitors, presenters, and all of the demands and egos of each.

I look forward to seeing you next year in Columbus, Ohio.

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