18th Century Timbre: Italian Concertos for Trumpet and Organ

Colorado State University, School of Music, Theatre, and Dance; Professors Joel Bacon, organ, and Caleb Hudson, trumpet

There are many things about music that create its sense of beauty. Dynamics, tone, intonation, blend, instrumentation, and style all combine to create a sense of wonder to our ears. On May 9, at 7:30 p.m., CSU faculty members Joel Bacon and Caleb Hudson take their very opposite sized instruments – organ and trumpet, respectively – and collaborate to create a rather unique result.

The booming, colorful sounds of Dr. Bacon and the Casavant Organ, blended with the strong and brassy flair of Professor Hudson’s trumpet, will yield a sound both powerful and classic. In addition to the strength of these two instruments, the music explores the exceptional sensitivity of the period. According to Hudson, the two musicians are intentionally capitalizing on this instrumentation, “highlighting some of the most beautiful, flashy, yet contemplative solo music of the baroque era.”

After some deliberation, the duo landed on a theme of Italian Concertos, drawing on music composers such as Bach, Vivaldi, and Marcello created that defined the first half of the 18th century. This all-Italian program of solos and duos is predominately filled with works transcribed by Johann Sebastian Bach.

videoDr. Bacon revels in the cleverness of J.S. Bach’s transcriptions, which use the different keyboards and pedalboard of the organ to allow the ear to naturally distinguish the original solo lines. “One hand will be on one keyboard playing the first violin part, while the feet are playing the cello and bass part. The left hand gets second violin and viola on a different keyboard as Caleb adds the unbelievably virtuoso solo part,” he explained. “It is great fun!”

Profess Hudson takes a similar approach to his music, performing concertos that were intended for violin and oboe. “I will be performing these pieces on piccolo trumpet, which is half the size of a regular trumpet and plays in the stratosphere of the instrument's range,” explained Hudson. “Since these pieces were not originally written for trumpet, the technical and virtuosic demands present many exciting challenges.”

Despite the technical hurdles both musicians will encounter, they look forward to the upcoming performance. “I’m really excited to work with Caleb,” said Bacon. “For one thing, we’re both very passionate about Baroque music. Both of our instruments have a lot of great repertoire from the 18th century.” Hudson echoed these thoughts, praising the organist on his musicianship. “I can’t wait to present this recital together.”

If you aren’t already committed to attending this concert, Dr. Bacon perfectly explains why you shouldn’t miss it. “Trumpet and organ are kind of a classic combination, like ham and cheese.”