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In the 2016-17 season, we’re bringing the Stephenson Music blog back to life by catching up with performer advocates playing Jim’s music around the country. First up is Jason Bergman, Assistant Professor of Trumpet at the University of North Texas, who will perform Jim’s Devil’s Tale on September 13. Jim will also conduct a three-day residency at UNT surrounding the performance.
Jason, why did the faculty ensemble at UNT decide to program Devil’s Tale? What excited you about this piece?
The UNT College of Music asked the faculty for ideas about a concert we could do at the Dallas City Performance Hall. I proposed a concert that would feature Stravinsky’s Soldier’s Tale along with Devil’s Tale. The anniversary of the Stravinsky is in September, and I’ve wanted to pair these pieces since Devil’s Tale premiered. Needless to say, the proposal was selected and we’re giving the performance on September 13.
The performers are all faculty members of the UNT College of Music and exceptional musicians. It’s been exciting to hear them bring this piece to life.
What are the challenges of preparing this piece? How are rehearsals going?
We started rehearsing the second day of our new Fall semester. The challenge that has perplexed us the most is getting all the very productive and busy faculty members to find common time to rehearse! However, we’ve gotten that taken care of and are enjoying the piece. My colleagues are such wonderful and experienced musicians that the piece has come together quite well and rather quickly.
Tell us about the people involved in this performance. Do you all perform together often?
Each person on this list is highly regarded in their field, and a top-level artist. I have loved every minute performing with them. This is the first time that we have performed together in this configuration. I wish we could perform this way all the time!
The personnel for this performance are: Eugene Corporon, conductor (Director of Bands at UNT); Nathan Olson, violin (Co-concertmaster, Dallas Symphony and adjunct professor of violin); Jeffery Bradetich, bass (Professor of Bass); Kimberly Cole Luevano, clarinet (Professor of Clarinet); Kathleen Reynolds, bassoon (Professor of Bassoon); Tony Baker, trombone (Professor of Trombone); Christopher Deane, percussion (Professor of Percussion); William Joyner, narrator (Professor of Voice), and myself on trumpet.
When tenor William Joyner isn’t playing the role of the Devil, he can certainly sing like an angel! Here he is performing Wagner with the UNT Symphony Orchestra.
What does it mean to you to perform the work of living composer, and Jim’s music specifically?
I have always been a big fan of Jim’s music. His story is inspirational, and I look forward to performing his works as often as I can. In fact, I think I’ve performed at least one piece every year since 2007, and most years it’s been several pieces! I first heard his music at the 2007 International Trumpet Guild Conference and have been hooked since.
I am very supportive of new music and try to perform it as often as possible. I have recorded two albums and each one features new works for trumpet. I’m really committed. Jim music is approachable to the audience and gratifying to perform as a musician. It’s not always easy, especially for trumpet players! But it’s really well written and exciting to play.
Jason performs Jim’s L’esprit de trompette with the UNT Symphonic Band.