When Dr. Frank Gazda isn’t teaching music, he’s surrounded by it in some other way. That trend will continue with Brass Day at DSU, which invites audiences and musicians of all levels to perform with and learn from some of the best in the business.
When Dr. Frank Gazda isn’t teaching music, he’s surrounded by it in some other way. That trend will continue with Brass Day at DSU, which invites audiences and musicians of all levels to perform with and learn from some of the best in the business. The highlight is when all players come together and “shake the walls” — in a good way. He gave us some insight into the event, and his work.
Q Brass day is in its third year. What can people expect from this event?
A It’s a little bigger, we have three guest artists. When we did the first one three years ago the special artist was a brass quintet from the Naval Band from Annapolis, and we had it on a Friday. Last year it was a little bigger but the snow wrecked it, so a lot of students got the chance to work with them, but a lot of community members couldn’t get out of their driveways, let alone make it to Brass Day.
They can expect to hear a wide variety of music. The Marine Band has been called the best concert band in the world, and I might be biased but I’d agree with that. They play at an incredible level, and their brass quintet will be giving clinics and leading the reading workshops.
That’s a big part of the festival: Participation. There are several opportunities to actually play. At 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. we’ll have a mass reading session. Then everyone who wants to play can get together and play the opening for Capitol Bones.
Brass players are pack animals. They love to play solos, but they love to play with other brass players. Many of the community members are in their own regular groups, but it’s rare to be able to pay with 20, 30, 40 other brass members, be able to really shake the walls, in a good way.
Q What attracted you to the performers you’ve brought in — U.S. Marine Brass Quintet, Chesapeake Silver Cornet Brass Band, and Capitol Bones jazz trombone ensemble?
A I think there’s a lot of variety in the performances. Of course the marines are some of the really great, classically trained brass players in the country, and they also bring an interesting point of view, because their duties as marines are to perform at the White House and State Department. So they’ll be talking about what it’s like to be in the Marine Band.
The brass band tradition stretches back over 100 years in England, and that’s something that’s really been making inroads in the US, and the Chesapeake band will be talking about that.
And of course the Capitol Bones, the first time I heard them I was just floored. I thought it was a chance to bring in the brass but do something different with the jazz, and they’ll talk about jazz arranging and improvisation.
Q Who can participate in the opening for Capitol Bones?
A The mass brass opening for Capitol Bones is for all skill levels. If you’re a younger player or someone who’s just getting back into the instrument we can find a part for you, and if you’re really on top of your game, we’ll have something for you.
Q What made you go from trombone to other instruments?
A As a low brass player, you can specialize and just play trombone but it’s more common to play all of them. You’re usually expected to teach all of them, and play more than one. For example, if you play in the pit of a Broadway show, chances are you’ll be playing both tuba and trombone. As they reduce sizes for the pits, you’ll probably be playing more than one part.
It sounds a little corny, but I love music. I love to play my instrument, but I think I’m one of the very lucky people because it’s not only my profession, but it’s my hobby. There’s a good chance when I’m not playing or teaching I’m listening or at a concert or online, interacting with other musicians.
Q What do you do outside of music, hobby-wise?
A Sadly, I’m a Pittsburgh Steelers fan. I’m a big sports fan, so I follow the Steelers, and I’m a big Pittsburgh Penguins fan. I try to catch up on my reading during the summer.
And, of course, my dogs. They’re both rescued, mixes named Parker and Abbie.