Colorado State University Special Assistant Professor of Horn, John McGuire, is currently traveling in Russia by special invitation, as a member of Fortress Brass Quintet.
After a 4 hour train ride on Sunday, we arrived in Moscow from St. Petersburg. We have been very fortunate to have great weather almost the entire trip. Normally, it is pretty cold here by this time of year, but it is unseasonably warm and we Americans love it!
Our time in Moscow included a little sightseeing, but centered on a day of rehearsals for our final performance on Tuesday evening. Everything went smoothly, as expected. When you tour, it can be very tiresome to be out of your norm, but rehearsals become a time when your balance is restored and you get rejuvenated, and that certainly has been the case for the Fortress Brass!
On Monday, we had a masterclass at the Moscow Conservatory, where we heard some tremendous young college age students. It is always interesting to see how, in spite of language and cultural barriers, we are always able to effectively work with these musicians. Words aren’t always needed! And they are so interested in our views that many students stay long after the masterclass to talk to us and ask about anything and everything, through an interpreter if course!
Tuesday evening we performed for the final time on this tour, this time at Rachmaninov Hall at the conservatory. We were one of several groups on this opening concert for the annual Brass Days Festival, where we performed Bach and American composer Arthur Frackenpohl, which was completely new to the Russian audience. The response was tremendous and completely thrilling!
But I must say, the coolest part of the evening for us was listening to all of the other groups on the concert, which were made up of the top professional brass players in all of Russia. They play with such power and authority that it is truly mind boggling – it makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up!
Afterwards, there was a reception with everyone who performed, and our host here in Moscow, Vladislav Lavrik – principal trumpet of the Russian National Orchestra and a leading international soloist – said in a toast that “despite all of the differences our cultures might have, we all are here for the same reason: to make beautiful music.” That is our bond and that is something we will always have. So, as I prepare to return to the U.S., I keep that in mind. Music is our bond. It transcends race, culture, politics. ..everything! And that is a comforting thought, don’t you think?
~ submitted by Dr. John McGuire, Assistant Professor of Horn