An Interview with Sidney and Pamela Shuler: Day Trips

Nov 28, 2020 by

Michael F. Shaughnessy

1)   I understand that you (Sidney and Pamela Shuler ) and Dr. Miles Massicotte on piano are going to do a world premiere performance of Day Trips which is an 8 movement work by Dr. B.J. Brooks.  When will this occur?

Day Trips will be premiered by Drs. Pamela and Sidney Shuler on a recital slated for 11/30/20.  The recital will be streamed live on the ENMU Music Department YouTube channel and will be available to view on that channel afterwards.  This recital was first conceived as a typical, evening time recital.  However, with all of the virtual instruction, etc., we felt it would be appropriate to hold the recital in a far less formal format opting for a “lunch time” recital at the noon hour.  Dr. Miles Massicotte will be joining Pam and myself on two solo works earlier in the recital. 

The other works on the recital (in program order) are:  Zarabandeo  by Arturo Márquez for clarinet and piano; Sonatine by Bohuslav Martinů for trumpet and piano.  Next, Pam and I will each play works for our solo instruments.  A Week in Plasencia (solo clarinet) by Mike Curtis contains 8 movements depicting Plasencia, a provincial town in Spain.  Pam has selected three movements from the work for this performance. 

I will be performing Paths (solo trumpet) by Tōru Takemitsu.  This work was dedicated to the memory of Polish composer, Witold Lutosławski.  It contains fast mute changes that are facilitated by a mute rig that allows the performer to insert and remove the mute without needing to hold it.

Day Trips was written for clarinet and trumpet by Dr. B.J. Brooks without additional accompaniment.  The piece contains 8 separate movements that depict 8 different scenic places and venues across the beautiful state of New Mexico.  A variety of compositional techniques and unique treatment of each instrument were used in creating this work such as:  canon (exact imitation between the voices); use of mute in the trumpet; free, and recitative-like playing in the clarinet.

2)   Now, tell us about Dr. B.J. Brooks- a little history.

Dr. B.J. Brooks is a professor of music at West Texas A&M University in Canyon, Texas.  He grew up in Portales and attended Eastern New Mexico University, graduating in 1998 with a Bachelor of Music Education degree.  Dr. Brooks frequently composes for many ensembles and chamber groups.  He also is a member of the ENMU Alumni Band and often attends while playing bassoon.

3)   Now, Dr. Sidney Shuler- what is your instrument and what will be your role in this Day Trips?

My instrument is trumpet.  The pieces I am playing for this recital will all be performed on a C trumpet.  My role in Day Trips changes depending on the movement.  There are times I am a following voice (canon), a solo voice, an ostinato-style voice (repetitive rhythmic style), and a partner voice.

4)   Now Dr. Pamela Shuler, what is your instrument and what will be your role in this performance?

I will be playing clarinet.  It is interesting to talk about what the role of both of our instruments are in an unaccompanied work for clarinet and trumpet.  In the wind instrument world, there pairings that would allow for similar tones and styles than clarinet and trumpet!  Many view the clarinet as having a darker, warmer tone and the trumpet as having a much more direct and present sound.  Sid and I have both had to work to try and match sounds and timbre.  From the clarinet side, I am trying to brighten my sound more than what I usually feel comfortable doing!

5)   I understand that there will be a piano accompaniment- who will be on the piano- and what is this person’s role in this work ?

Dr. Miles Massicotte will be playing the piano for the first two works on the recital.  He provides collaborative work on each Zarabandeo  (clarinet) and Sonatine (trumpet).  He came to ENMU this semester and has been appreciated by many areas of the department already for his collaborative contributions.  He will be giving his own, solo recital on December 7th.

6)   What challenges have you had to face in rehearsing for this work?

For Day Trips, there have been several challenges.  The first and largest challenge is the instrumentation itself.  The trumpet and clarinet have very different acoustics that cause each of us to adapt our playing at times to that of the other performer.  That said, since we live together, we are able to rehearse movements at our convenience.  However, our children are at home for school, so we often have to schedule ourselves in our home and at school in opposition in order to accommodate ALL areas of what needs to be accomplished in a given day.  In a typical semester, we would have been able to have rehearsals in the hall on a regular basis.  There have been a number of unique challenges this moment in time has presented for musicians.  Wanting to continue to make music at this time, it has been a somewhat unusual preparation process.

7)   When exactly will this take place and will it be taped?

The recital will take place on November 30 in Buchanan Hall in the Music Building on the campus of ENMU.  It will be live streamed and available for post viewing on the ENMU Music Department’s YouTube channel.  We owe a great deal of credit to Mr. Neil Rutland and his student staff for making this process possible.

8) What have I neglected to ask ?

While this isn’t a question, we very much appreciate you taking the time to put a focus on the arts.  For performing artists, this time has been a struggle.  For those used to gallery openings, show openings, and music performances, it has been a difficult time in learning how to continue forward without being able to share our craft in a live format.  We look forward to a time when we are able to gather together in a healthy format, but also appreciate everyone that has a role in still being able to share our craft.

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