While cleaning my office yesterday, I went through some old boxes and found this photo of trumpeter Rolf Smedvig and I in the summer of 1977. The picture was taken on the Tanglewood grounds. I was 22 and Rolf was 24.
Oftentimes, Rolf and I would practice together or play the Bach Two-Part Inventions. His playing had the ease of someone blowing bubbles. His fluid articulation, vibrant beautiful tone and expressive long line were truly exceptional. I learned a great deal from playing with him.
1977 was a pretty big year for the Empire Brass (Quintet), which also included, at that time, trumpeter Charles Lewis, hornist David Ohanian and tubist Sam Pilafian. We went on a three-week tour of Spain in the winter, gave our Naumburg Chamber Music Prize concert at Alice Tully Hall in New York in the spring, and, later that spring, made two recordings--one called "Baroque Brass" and the other called "Russian Brass," which was the the premiere recording of the Victor Ewald Brass Quintets Nos. 2 and 3. Ewald's 1st quintet is also on this recording.
We used to play all day long in those early years. Between Boston Symphony rehearsals and concerts and EBQ rehearsals and concerts, it was easy to play six to eight or even 10 hours in a day! This is when I discovered the real importance of warming up and sometimes warming down! The quintet reahearsals were very intense and often confrontational! But we all had great respect for each other and we had lots of fun and unbelievable humor as well! I look back now and feel very proud to have been a part of such a great musical and pioneering chamber music group.