For the second year in a row, KPU’s Music faculty will perform a series of concerts throughout the fall and spring semesters to showcase the talent and hard work of the department’s instructors.
The three concerts will host a variety of talented instrumentalists playing brass, string, woodwind, and piano. KPU Director of Keyboard Studies Jane Hayes says that “anyone who performs can come forward with an idea as to what they do when they’re not teaching at Kwantlen.”
“The students, I don’t think, are aware of just how active the faculty are outside of teaching hours,” she adds.
The first show in the series on Oct. 27 will feature Touch of Brass, a quintet which KPU trumpet instructor Tom Shorthouse is a member of. The group has been around for 40 years, and Shorthouse has been a part of it for the past 25. With the quintet consisting of two trumpets, a french horn, a trombone, and a tuba, every one of the five musicians involved comes with their own unique and extensive professional background.
“I think one of the things that makes our group unique, at least in my mind, is that we try and play a lot of music that we have arranged ourselves,” says Shorthouse. “There’s a lot of music that’s available to purchase or to rent, but that doesn’t make us special. What makes us special is the fact that we can write for the individual members of the group.”
Together, Touch of Brass plays a variety of genres from different eras, ranging from baroque to jazz, pop, and classical. Because the group largely plays music they’ve arranged themselves, they often take a 40 or 50 member concert piece and turn it into something manageable for a brass quintet while still remaining true to the original. Shorthouse describes this work as “familiar, but unique.”
However, the challenges of being a professional instrumentalist are not unknown to him and his colleagues.
“Not everyone is aware that brass instruments are very challenging to play for a long period of time,” he says. “So being brass players ourselves, we’ll know when we have reached our peak or limit and we will need a rest. We can’t play all the time like a pianist can or violinist or cellist.”
The second concert of the series will focus on KPU’s artist-in-residence, the Borealis String Quartet, with Hayes on piano. The third installment—affectionately named CD-elebrate—will include performances from a number of KPU instructors who already have recently recorded albums.
The faculty showcase is not only a space for KPU’s music instructors to show off their skills and accomplishments. It will also provide the opportunity for students to get a sense of what it’s like to be a professionally performing musician.
“So many students from what would be a narrow background have been inspired to go into music because their high school band teacher inspired them, but actually, so many of them have never been to a professional classical concert,” says Hayes. “It’s showing them a complete package and it’s also showing them that music isn’t academic.”
“I think [students] have to be able to see me and the other faculty members approach the concept of playing the instrument in a musical fashion—not just in some kind of esoteric way,” adds Shorthouse. “In a lesson we’ll say, ‘You have to breathe this way and you have to articulate this way,’ but to see it happen all at a given time with four other people all doing it at the same time … I hope that’s what [the students] would get, is a sense that what I’m saying in lessons isn’t just spouting nonsense.”