Smiths Rich Trumpet...

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Birmingham News - Smiths Rich Trumpet...

A brass band summoned up a mighty wind Wednesday to open the 2004 Ellsworth Smith International Solo Trumpet Competition at UAB. Brassworks-Alabama, a newly formed 14-member ensemble of area professionals and college faculty, launched into three festive Renaissance works with plenty of verve, if a little lacking in precision. It was appropriate fanfare for the introduction of the competitions five finalists, all of whom are under 30 and represent four countries. Through Saturday, theyll vie for a $10,000 first prize by turning in the best performances in five rounds.

For opening night, though, it was the New York Philharmonics principal trumpet, Philip Smith, who took the spotlight. Commenting on the contestants demanding music, Smith said, my job was to set the bar low, but his modesty contradicted the stellar performance to come.

His reputation as one of the finest trumpeters on the planet was affirmed in works ranging from Verdi to Lennon and McCartney. Standout works on the hour long program were two pieces by his accompanist, Joseph Turrin, a New York pianist, composer and conductor whose compositions range from New York Philharmonic commissions to Hollywood film scores. Turrins reflective, impressionist Caprice was especially suited to Smith, whose velvety tone and immaculate articulations rode the sharply defined waves of expression of the score. His attractive Four Miniatures moves from the sparse and atmospheric Fanfare to zesty rhythms of Tarantella in short order. Smiths rich trumpet sound and controlled technique would be coveted by any orchestra conductor, and hes played under greats from Bernstein to Maazel in his 26 years with the Philharmonic, but his cornet playing was especially moving. In Turrins miniature, Canto, and in an arrangement of the Beatles Here, There and Everywhere, the mellower instrument wafted hauntingly in the rafters of Jemison Concert Hall, posing a formidable musical goal for the contestants in the days to come.
MICHAEL HUEBNER News staff writer