An interview with the trumpeters Richard Radosh, Patrick Russo, Don Sharp and Les Samenow

An interview with the trumpeters Richard Radosh, Patrick Russo, Don Sharp and Les Samenow

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The world premiere of the Concertino de los Filabres took place during the opening concert of the 38th International Trumpet Guild, in Michigan, with the trumpeters José Chafer, Rex Richardson, Richard Stoelzel and James Ackley, the Gran Rapids Symphonic Band and the conductor Barry Martin. Two years later, this composition by Pérez Garrido continues travelling around the globe thanks to new performers. On this occasion, the Coastal Communities Concert Band under the baton of Tom Cole will perform it for the first time in California and we have planned to make an interview to its next solo trumpeters Richard Radosh, Patrick Russo, Don Sharp and Les Samenow with the aim of showing all people their good way to work as well as their vision about the composition. From this website we want to thank them their musical efforts and enthusiastic cooperation and wish them good luck for their next performance.

- The Concertino de los Filabres is a composition that develops the traditional music style from Spain, and California is a state where exists many Hispanic influence.  Do you think that its music could represent in some way any part of California or not?

Richard Radosh: Concertino de los Filabres paints a musical picture of California’s early history as part of Mexico.  The first section can evoke images of the Sierra Nevada foothills and majestic mountains, or an afternoon at the Plaza de Toros.  In the allegro, I see strolling Mariachi musicians and people dancing or even marching to the music.  

- The Concertino de los Filabres has been composed for four soloists. Is playing music with other solo trumpeters more easy or complicated? Have you spent much time rehearsing the composition?

Patrick Russo: The more trumpets you have the more difficult it is to interpret and match styles exactly and to play together well.  We are lucky in this band.  Most of us play together, not only in this band, but in other bands, too.  I have been playing in the Coastal Communities Concert Band with Les for over 10 years; and I have been playing in bands together for over 30 years with both Richard and Don!

There is a YouTube video of Concertino de los Filabres from the International Trumpet Guild performance.  I watched that video carefully about 30 times, with my music in my hands, even before I tried to play it.  Then I spent many hours practicing the piece, until much of it was memorized.  The quartet performers worked individually and then we got together as a section a few times.  Then,  we worked for a few hours with a trumpet player from the San Diego Symphony.  He was a very helpful coach, especially with technique and interpretation.  And last but not least, our whole band has been working on Filabres for about one month so far.  We have two more rehearsals before our performance.  We will be ready.  I very much enjoy playing the piece.  I especially like the fanfares and the “pyramids”.  Thank you.

- Although the world premiere of this work was in Michigan, your band is going to play this piece for the very first time in the California State. Do you think that its performance will be well received among the Californian audience? Are you nervous about the premiere?

Don Sharp: I believe that it will be well received. The group that will be performing this will do it great justice. The composition demonstrates great color and flare indicative of the title. The soloists and the concert band have plenty of experience debuting compositions from world-renowned artists. There will not be even a hint of nerves. It is a beautiful piece. I think I speak for everyone when I say we get completely immersed in it and we lose ourselves in the performance. Some music is “played” while other music is an experience. This is an experience.

- The Sierra de los Filabres is a mountain range located in Andalusia, Spain. Do you think that is possible to listen to the mountains while the composition is being performed? What is your favorite part of this composition?

Les Samenow: Yes, I can hear (see) the mountains and valleys in the music. My favorite parts are the softer more nuanced parts…measures 61 to 90 where the music builds again, and measures 158 to 165, a similar section.

- It is no necessary to mention that playing very good the trumpet needs much time. How many time have you spent for being a good trumpeter? Has it been a hard road?

Patrick Russo: I practice in general 1.5 hours per day, every day, and more on rehearsal or performance days, for 60 years.  Yes, it is a hard road, requiring great discipline, but I find it very rewarding and well worth it.  A life for me without music would be impossible!

- Playing a band composition for four soloists is not very common. Do you recommend to the bands playing new different projects with the aim of giving to the audience other kinds of interesting pieces of music?

Richard Radosh: Our audiences very much enjoy soloists, but they really like to hear the whole band.  Concertino de los Filabres is perfect for them because it features both the soloists and the band.  Our audiences and our band members like music that is melodic and familiar.  However, they will give new music a chance when it is “listenable” and not too abstract.  I think bands should always be looking for new music in order to keep band music alive, to help symphonic bands to thrive, and to support and encourage composers and arrangers to write music for band.

- Please, could you tell us some funny or interesting anecdote happened while rehearsing the Concertino de los Filabres?

Don Sharp: Interesting that you ask that question. As you know you have written multiple time signatures and syncopated entrances. Well our band director tries to get the band to play on the beat by making this funny noise. It sounds like air pressure being released from a tire one small squirt at a time. He asked us if this was helping. I simply replied “it’s lovely”. The band got a hardy laugh out of that one.

Frank Glasson (Pacific Symphony, San Diego Symphony) shared with us one approach in the 6/8 trumpet fanfare section which was particularly helpful. The lead trumpet enters the bar just after the first beat and each trumpet enters in succession in like manner to complete the fanfare. Frank pointed out that, rather than count it, we should simply play the fanfare like a group of arpeggios in groups of three. This helped tremendously to jump on the train that was already moving.  The chords line up this way very well.

- Many musicians think about situations, places or images while playing their instruments for getting a better performance. Do you usually do it? What do you think when performing the Concertino de los Filabres?

Les Samenow: Visual images can be very important to any selection. As a music educator for 34 years, many times I would give my students a visual image to enhance their playing. I try to think about what kind of style this composition should be played in, all the while trying to match the style of the other soloists, particularly the lead player.

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