Ben on Tour

Kentucky Trombone Day - 2005

The 12th Annual University of Kentucky Trombone Day featuring Ben van Dijk, Solo Bass Trombone of the Rotterdam Philharmonic

Article by:
 Dale E. Warren
 Professor of Trombone
 School of Music
 University of Kentucky

From November 16-19, 2005 Dale Warren, Professor of Trombone at the University of Kentucky, and the University of Kentucky Chapter of the International Trombone Association hosted international bass trombone soloist and member of the Rotterdam Philharmonic, Ben van Dijk.

Ben van Dijk and Dale Warren

Ben was the special guest artist for the 12th annual University of Kentucky Trombone Day which has featured the greatest trombone artists in the world from the genres of jazz, orchestral, solo, and chamber music. High school players from Kentucky and surrounding states participate in this event. Moreover, professional players, undergraduate and graduate students, and college teachers from several states away come to observe this event.

Afternoon master class for all the Brass
of the Kentucky University

This year Ben van Dijk performed with pianist, William Cooper; the University of Kentucky Trombone Choir, and the University of Kentucky Wind Ensemble. On the morning concert with piano accompaniment Ben performed Melodie by Gluck/Kreisler and a bass aria from Glinka's Life of a Tsar opera.
Ben's playing was intensely lyrical and highly expressive. His dynamic range was extreme but totally appropriate to the operatic nature of the works. He also colored his tone in very dramatic ways to reflect the nature of the text. His style was very vocal and emotionally touching.

University trombone/choir and Ben van Dijk as soloist

In the afternoon Mr. van Dijk performed the ballad movement of Mr. Roberts (featured on his Nana CD) accompanied by a trombone quartet of Mr. Warren and three U.K. students. Following this performance Mr. van Dijk gave a clinic based on the principles from his book, Ben's Basics. The session dealt with all the elements of a routine, including body warm-up, breathing exercises, warm-up exercises, tonguing exercises, and slurring exercises. Ben is a master at giving a very concise clinic focusing on the essence of each exercise. The results were more relaxed playing by everyone and highly efficient production. Moreover, the clinic was very participatory so everyone enjoyed getting to play their horn and learn at the same time.

On the evening concert Ben performed his contra bass trombone with the University of Kentucky Trombone Choir on such pieces as Barber's Adagio for Strings, Bruckner's Locus Iste, and the funk chart Cyclops by Nat Adderly. Ben's sound and mastery of the instrument added greatly to the impact of these arrangements for choir.

Ben followed these pieces by performing as a soloist with the U.K. Trombone Choir small group. He performed The Chief by John Stevens which mixes jazz and classical idioms into a strong composition. Again, Ben proved to be a master of executing both jazz and classical styles within the same work. His seamless playing created a good blend with the ensemble. Next, Ben performed the world premiere of Capriccio by Steven Verhelst for solo bass trombone and six-piece trombone ensemble. The piece is in a three part A-B-A form with fast movements flanking a slow melodic inner movment. The slow movement is reminiscent of Henry Mancini's Moon River with some of its melodic and harmonic character as well as its 3/4 meter; however, it has a flow and style that is still unique. The outer movements are fanfare like in nature with plenty of virtuosity for the soloist and great tutti sections for the ensemble. It is a highly listenable and enjoyable piece for both performers and audience members, as evidenced by the very positive crowd reaction.

Success after Lebedev

Illustrating the principles of great, relaxed playing Ben continued the demanding program by performing the Lebedev Concerto with the University of Kentucky Wind Ensemble.

This listener, the trombone professor at U.K., rarely gives standing ovations but felt compelled to stand and applaud vigorously for this particular performance (as did the rest of the audience). Ben played with such passion in this highly romantic composition displaying his beautiful rich tone, incredible dynamic range, intensely lyrical playing, powerful, virtuosic maestoso passages, and note perfect accuracy. The result was a highly charged performance with a great depth of emotional expression.

Newell Sheridan (Thein-distributor USA), Ben van Dijk and Dale Warren

After this work Ben followed with the more playful, jazz influenced Blue Topaz by Tommy Pederson. Ben demonstrated great fluidity and dance like playing in his jazz stylings. Again, the performance was masterful.

Finally Ben brought back the contra bass trombone to play a version of 76 Trombones with the wind ensemble and 60 other trombonists in the massed ensemble finale. The audience expressed its appreciation for Ben and the ensembles with another long standing ovation. The concert was a success and joy for all who participated and attended.

In conclusion this teacher would like to thank Ben for an incredibly inspiring and uplifting visit. Ben not only displayed virtuosic and musical performances of many different styles, he also proved to be a master teacher and clinician. In private lessons this teacher learned much through observation of his teaching techniques. The trombone studio itself was totally excited about the results of Ben's teaching and performing. This studio has brought in such artists as Joe Alessi, Bones Apart, Scott Hartman, Conrad Herwig, Ron Barron, Blair Bollinger, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra Trombone Section, Matt Niess from the Capitol Bones, Charlie Vernon, and Bill Watrous over twelve years of Trombone Day. Ben's performing and teaching were as good as the best of these performers/teachers. 

This trombone professor would recommend Ben in a heartbeat to anyone wanting a world class performer/teacher to help inspire their trombone studio or to perform with any of your ensembles as a soloist.
Moreover, the best part of his visit was to meet such a fine, caring person, who demonstrates the best aspects of professionalism and friendship.
As Ben would say, "bon appetit".

@Pictures by Newell Sheridan


Published Dec 01 2005, 12:09 AM
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Bass trombonist of the Rotterdam Conservatory "Codarts" Ben is professor at the Rotterdam Conservatory "Codarts. He plays exclusively "Thein" tenor-bass and contrabass trombones.
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