Friday, 3 April 2009

Roger Bobo Plays the Tuba

Roger Bobo is a real tuba player but Roger Bobo Plays the Tuba isn't about him so much as about the joy of making music and having fun. The words are by John Updike, celebrating Bobo's mellifluous name. The music is by Brian Holmes, celebrating Bobo's mellifluous instrument. The combination is a riot ! The body movements are central to the music, too, because instruments are played with physical force. Not disembodied, so to speak. No lungs, no sound. Stockhausen did the same thing in KLANG! but Bobo is more lively.

Roger Bobo Plays the Tuba should be heard more often, as it's ideal material for getting people enthusiastic. It doesn't require gargantuan forces - just three part female choir, piano and tuba solo. The vocal parts are fun rather than taxing - well within the range of good amateurs. It's published by Roger Dean and also available from sheetmusicplus.

Brian Holmes is a horn player himself, so he understands the tuba well, and what performance can be. He's also a physics professor, and understands the science that makes instruments do what they do. This is a very unusual combination of skills, and makes you think about what the instruments are capable of. He's also a born communicator. He teaches college level, but he also gives direct, vivid talks on music making, and the science of music, intelligible to ordinary people. His music has long appealed to me, because he mixes whimsy with intelligence. His Science Songs (soprano and piano), also set to Updike texts , are very good indeed - song recitalists take note! They are great fun in performance. These are also published by Roger Dean. More recently, Holmes has completed an ambitious piece, The Amherst Requiem, for choir, soloist and orchestra to texts by Emily Dickinson. It fits well with the clear, natural spirit of her poems.

Below is another performance of Roger Bobo Plays The Tuba. This time the choir is more formally dressed as they do in the US, but the effervescence can't be suppressed!

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