GVSU Octubafest sheds light on two instruments

GVL/Kevin Sielaff
Nikolaus Schroeder

GVL/Kevin Sielaff Nikolaus Schroeder

Shelby Pendowski

As the grandfather of all the bass instruments, the tuba is usually placed in the brass section of an orchestra to anchor the music with its deep vibrato sound. However, the third annual Grand Valley State University Octubafest is bringing the tuba and the euphonium to center stage for a week of performances.

“We don’t get the spotlight very often,” said affiliate music professor Paul Carlson. “The main role0 of both these instruments is that of an accompaniment part, so usually we are the base of an ensemble, and here we get to really be out front playing solos. 

“It’s a performance opportunity that my students aren’t going to get through their other performance roles, through their other school ensembles.”

The festival commenced Oct. 24 with the GVSU Tuba-Euphonium Studio in the Sherman Van Solkema Recital Hall located in the Performing Arts Center on GVSU’s Allendale Campus.

Freshman music education major Nick Hudgins started the night on the euphonium with a performance of “Beautiful Colorado” by composer Joseph De Luca. The light-hearted melody of the tune filled the hall keeping the full house entranced.

“It is not true that it is just a background instrument, so we are just showing everyone what’s up and that we can do what every other instrument can do,” Hudgins said.

Casey Zimmerman, also a music education major, followed Hudgins by playing the tuba in a haunting, rich performance of the Concertino for Tuba.

The performances alternated between highlighting the tuba and the euphonium. Lonnie Ostrander, a regular accompanist at GVSU performances, accompanied each of the solos on the grand piano.

Jacob Lumsden, a junior at GVSU, played two songs on the euphonium. Lukas Schroeder also played two songs, but rather on the tuba.

The evening concluded with the intricate melody of Fantasia di Concerto. Nikolaus Schroder, who studies music and public and nonprofit administration, truly brought the instrument into the spotlight with this performance.

This was the first of four performances for this festival. The five students also performed in the studio on Oct. 26.

Since its conception the festival has grown to double the amount of performances.

“When we first started (the Octubafest), we started with two performances, and this is our second year of doing four performances,” Carlson said. “The fourth concert is going to be chamber groups, and then the second half is going to be the GVSU Tuba and Euphonium ensemble, which is almost the whole studio playing in an ensemble which is going to be fun as well.”

The festival continues Oct. 29 and 30 at 7:30 p.m. in the Sherman Van Solkema Recital Hall. For the final performances many of the soloists will become one in an ensemble.

“I think it is up hill from tonight,” Schroder said. “I think putting the instrument back in context … is good to demonstrate how we work well with other instruments and it is going to be more of a variety.“

The final performance on Oct. 30 is the debut of the GVSU Tuba and Euphonium Ensemble. The ensemble will perform pieces by Richard Wagner, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Gabriel Faure and John Philip Sousa.

“We had some great performances tonight,” Carlson said. “Everybody tonight really rose to the occasion. It is a great start because it shows how hard these students have been working, it shows what they have been working on this semester and it shows all of their development thus far. So it is really great start for the future concerts that will be happening in the next week.”

For more information on Octubafest visit
www.gvsu.edu/music or call 616-331-3484.

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