Expert players of the oft-misunderstood brass instrument, members of Guidonian Hand hope to introduce local audiences to the soul and sound of the trombone quartet at the next Fredericksburg Music Club concert this Sunday.
Information at on the music series is at www.fredericksburgmusicclub.com.
Information on Guidonian Hand is at www.trombonehand.com.
by Phil Houseal
Wags call them “wind-driven pitch approximators,” but aficionados appreciate this brass instrument as the most soulful in the orchestra.
I’m talking about the trombone, and you will be blessed to hear a quartet of the finest trombonists in the country when Guidonian Hand performs this Sunday for the next Fredericksburg Music Club concert.
“The most frequently asked question after a show is, ‘how do you know where to stop the slide?’” said quartet member Mark Broschinsky during a phone interview from New York. “I say, ‘Oh, we just guess.’ That’s a joke, but it is sort of true. With us, it is a very educated guess.”
Broschinsky - who just completed his doctorate in music this summer - maintains the trombone is an “amazing” instrument. “Its expressive quality can be equivalent to the human voice,” he said, noting that trombones were often used to accompany choirs in churches when organs were not available.
With a range roughly equivalent to that found in a string quartet, Broschinsky considers the trombone the chameleon of instruments.
“It can fit in so many places,” he said. “You can play it in church on Sunday morning; in a jazz combo on Monday night; in a rock band on Tuesday; in the orchestra on Thursday; and on Friday, anything goes. It can be played crushingly loud, then so delicately it will speak to the soul.”
The quartet - named for a medieval mnemonic device used to assist singers - reflects this diverse appeal of the instrument. Broschinsky shares thumbnail bios of his fellow players:
Together they create a sound that reviewers describe as “a musical alchemy... which is always greater than the sum of its parts.”
Broschinsky agrees that the biggest strength of group is its diversity.
“All four are very different players, but different in a good way. When we come together as a group, it creates this energy we wouldn’t otherwise have,” Broschinsky said. “Each brings different things to the table. It is a lot of fun to work together.”
The quartet will bring that fun to the audience. They have selected a number of vocal pieces from 1198 to the 1930s. “We wanted to reflect that vocal quality of the trombone,” he said. “What you lose on the text, is more than made up for with the ability to speak musically through the instrument.”
As do more and more “classical” performers, the members of Guidonian Hand relish the trend toward to bringing their music to audiences outside the traditional concert hall. To come to a town like Fredericksburg is “very exciting.”
“We want to make music accessible,” Broschinsky said. “We believe music has the power to touch people, to help them see beauty in the world, to help them deal with problems in their lives. We are not interested in putting up barriers. We want to share the experience, to share the great love for music we all have.”
And while they probably won’t be playing any Dixieland, Broschinsky did promise a little “surprise” piece if there happens to be an encore. You’ll just have to attend to find out what that will be.
“If nothing else,” he said, “just come out for the sheer morbid curiosity to hear what a trombone quartet is.”