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WSU to host tuba-euphonium conference this weekend

Ben+Pierce+is+the+featured+guest+artist+at+the+conference+and+an+internationally+recognized+tuba-euphonium+artist.
Ben Pierce is the featured guest artist at the conference and an internationally recognized tuba-euphonium artist.

Ben Pierce is the featured guest artist at the conference and an internationally recognized tuba-euphonium artist.

COURTESY OF CHRIS DICKEY

COURTESY OF CHRIS DICKEY

Ben Pierce is the featured guest artist at the conference and an internationally recognized tuba-euphonium artist.

AILA IKUSE | Evergreen reporter

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When people think of tuba, they tend to think of the instrument that toots the bassline in the back of the band, but the euphonium is an instrument people do not usually know even exists.

A euphonium is similar to the baritone, just larger in size.

“The euphonium is the closest instrument we have to the human voice. It sounds like a male tenor, with this operatic singing quality,” WSU School of Music professor Sarah Miller said.

Locals will have a chance this weekend to hear these two instruments featured as WSU hosts the 2017 Northwest Regional Tuba-Euphonium Conference (NWRTEC).

Miller and Chris Dickey, both trombone and tuba-euphonium professors at WSU, decided to apply to host the conference before they attended the national conference in Knoxville, Tennessee.

“One of the drawbacks to being in Pullman and the Pacific Northwest is how isolated we are,” Miller said. “The closest place here you can go to hear professional full-time orchestras is up in Spokane, which is an hour and a half away. It’s hard to get our students to go to those things, so we thought we’d bring the artists to us.”

In order to apply, Miller and Dickey had to write a proposal that included the facilities WSU has to offer, the artists they hoped to attract, the number of people they expect to attend and a budget proposal.

“It’s our baby a little bit,” Miller said. “He and I have been friends for a long time, so we knew we wanted to do this.”

Ben Pierce, an internationally recognized tuba-euphonium artist, will be the featured guest artist at this weekend’s conference. Other guest artists include Michael Grose, tuba-euphonium professor at the University of Oregon, Matthew Shipes from the University of Idaho and David McLemore from Central Washington University.

“The featured artist we have is this … soloist that everyone and their mother knows about in the tuba-euphonium community, and he’s here in Pullman,” Dickey said. “This does not happen every day, and we want our students to take advantage.”

Over 100 people are expected to attend, including around 15 guest artists. Over half of the attendees will be students visiting from other universities, Miller said.

The conference will feature presentations and classes from all the guest artists, an opening and final concert and a competition. Several WSU tuba-euphonium students will compete in this competition, Dickey said.

The opening concert will feature Pierce accompanied by the WSU Wind Ensemble and a tuba-euphonium quartet including Dickey, Miller, Albert Miller (Miller’s husband) and the tuba-euphonium professor at Northern Arizona State University.

Pierce will also hold a solo recital, free and open to the public. He has been giving lessons all week and hosting clinics in addition to the regular conference gigs, Dickey said.

The final concert will feature the NWRTEC Large Ensemble, a group that participants had to register for and rehearse all weekend in preparation. The concert will also showcase the Palouse Brass Ensemble, made up of professors from both WSU and the University of Idaho.

“I’m from the Midwest,” Dickey said. “Band is huge there. [Miller] is from the South where there is a very strong, visible band tradition. Out here in the Northwest, we are so remote and isolated that students can’t keep tabs on what’s happening in the broader tuba-euphonium community, so we are hoping to bring a piece of that to Pullman.”

Dickey hopes that everyone, not just tuba-euphonium students, will be interested in coming to the public, free concerts.

“Everyone loves tuba and euphonium, they just don’t know it yet,” he said. “If they come to these concerts, I think they will be shocked and amazed at what they hear.”

The opening concert will take place at 8 p.m. today in Bryan Hall Theatre. Pierce’s solo recital will begin at 8 p.m. on Saturday in Bryan Hall Theatre, and the NWRTEC final concert will take place at 1 p.m. on Sunday in Kimbrough Concert Hall.

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WSU to host tuba-euphonium conference this weekend