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ITF 2006 - Birmingham, UK


A personal review of the ITF 2006 in Birmingham.

During the ITF 2006 held in Birmingham-UK, I was invited as one of the guest soloists.

Last Monday I returned from the ITF 2006 in Birmingham. This was the last week of three weeks of intense work and lots of joy. After a great week in Corfu-Greece (master class with Michel Becquet and Jorgen van Reijen-article will follow soon!) and another wonderful week in Spain (master class with Pierre Volders and Javier Colomer-article will follow soon!) I flew to the Birmingham-UK. It was the 6th time I was invited to be one of the playing artists during an ITA trombone festival.


Meeting my old time friend, Billy Robinson (bass trombonist)

The Brasilian hotshots just after thier great concert.

Ed Solomon, bass trombonist and BTS stafmember.

 One day before the festival started I flew to Leeds where I was picked up from the airport by my friend and Manchester RNCM Colleague, Chris Houlding. After a wonderful relaxed day in his garden we went to a rehearsal with the Yorkshire Imperial Urquhart Travel Band who were going to accompany me in a new composition by Ilja Reijngoud. Chris was their conductor for this event. In a very small, extremely hot rehearsal room we played for the first time through "my Spanish Heart". After 2 hours I was completely wet and exhausted but had a good feeling. From the rehearsal we drove directly to Birmingham, a more then 2 hours drive.

Thursday July 20

Already during breakfast I ran into several old friends. The very first was Jiggs Whigham and we had a nice conversation during which he presented to me his new book "Jazz Trombone" in which I had the privilege to write some quotes. I had a first look in the book and it looks really great.

Then it was of to the Conservatoire to register myself. So many know faces like Vern and Jan Kagarice, Ian Bousfield, Billy Robinson, Chris Stearn, Albert Zuiderduin, Roy Pickering and many more. 

I had the opportunity to listen to the 3+1 trombone quartet (Rotterdam Conservatory ensemble) in their performance for the ITA trombone quartet competition. I did not hear the other competitors, because I had to leave for the bass bone competition, but I think they did a great job. Too bad the were not the winners! After their competition Quirijn van den Bijlaard, one of the memeber of the 3+1 quartet, played as finalist in the "Frank Smith competition" and won. Congratulations!

My first duty was judging the "Donald Yaxley Bass trombone Competition". The other 2 judges were Albert Zuiderduin and Roy Pickering. After a long discussion, we decided that the winner of this competition is "Matyas Veer" from Hungary. A powerful and technical very good player with lots of potential to become a real great bass bone artist.

The afternoon I had the first rehearsal with Alison Procter, my pianist for the Friday recital I had to give. Alison is the wife of Ian Bousfield and really a super accompanist. I really enjoyed playing with her and it gave me lots of confident for the upcoming recital. The evening was scheduled with a rehearsal with the 3+1 trombone quartet with Martin Schippers, Bart Claessens, Quirijn van den Bijlaard and Jaume Gavilan who were going to help me with Nick Woud's "Serenade". After this part my colleague Pierre Volders (solo-trombone Rotterdam Philharmonic) and Steven Verhelst (bass trombone student of mine) joined the group for the rehearsal of Steven"s composition "Capriccio" for bass trombone solo and 6 trombones. A good rehearsal which made me feel good!

Because of all these rehearsals and the fact that I had to prepare for the upcoming solo-events I did not have time to listen to most of the interesting events going on during this ITF.

I met Ed for the first time during this ITF and his enthusiasm for the trombone (bass- and contrabass trombones to be more precise) is a pleasure to witness. I enjoyed listening to Ed's playing on the contra ( a Thein model contrabass trombone ) during one of these mass trombone ensemble concerts.

Diner time that Thursday was spent with the Max and Heinrich Thein, Vern and Jan Kagarice, Chris Stearn and Bob Hughes. I never met Bob before but knew him from his great recordings with the Scottish National and the London Symphony. A great guy, too bad he suffers from the Focal Dystonia and is not able to play any more. Sad!

Friday July 21

For me D-day. I always find it very stressful to perform on the ITF and although I had already several successful performances every new one makes me shiver again. In the morning I had a short rehearsal with the lovely Alison Procter and then returned to the hotel for a short shower, a sandwich and a moment of relaxation. I had to play a 45 minutes recital before intermission with Ian Bousfield playing the second half of the afternoon concert.

My program to play was:

  • Melodie - Gluck/Kreisler/van Dijk
  • Concerto - Lebedev
  • Aria of Ivan Susanin - Glinka
  • Serenade - Nick Woud
  • Capriccio - Steven Verhelst


 The first three pieces were with Alison and wow, what a great experience. Besides being a lovely supportive lady, she follows so good. It was a treat to play with her and I felt really in the music. No time to shiver, only time to make music!


Then the 3+1 Rotterdam Conservatory trombone quartet joined me for an exiting performance of Nick Woud's masterpiece "Serenade". The boys played super and made it easy for me to play at my best. Then Pierre Volders and Steven Verhelst joined us for the last piece, "Capriccio". A new composition by Steven Verhelst and already a public pleaser. Virtuosic but also consisting wonderful melodies and harmonies. (Capriccio is published by BVD Music Productions - )

I think I can say the concert was a success, at least I enjoyed it and felt very happy after the recital. Too bad I could not listen to Ian's recital but I heard it was just great!

After some nice talks and compliments after the concert it was time to have a shower and of for some cool beer.  

Ben, Wycliffe Gordon and Ian Bousfileld after their concert

The evening concert was performed by the Birmingham Symphony Orchestra in an interesting trombone featured concert. All English composers like Holst, Walton, Arnold, Elgar and Gordon Jacob's trombone concert, performed by the BSO principal trombone, Philip Harrison. After the concert we walked to the Malthouse Pub for the late night Jazz concert. The "London Trombone Quartet" played but without mikes and this made it impossible to really hear what they were doing. The beer was great and I had a very nice evening and for me a good chance to chill out!

Saturday July 22

The day started with a massed warm-up session I had to lead. This is something I do often and always enjoy a lot. I do not know how many players there were but I think there were more then 75 players and even some more only listening. The rest of the day I was free and had the chance to go to some events and have some meetings with good friends. I listened to the trombone section of the Black *** Mills band under the leading of Brett Baker. Very interesting to hear their special style which is so different from the way we play in my orchestra. After this presentation I had to hurry to hear the concert of "Bones Apart". Very good quartet with excellent playing of Kathy Price. What a control in soft playing; as showed the whole ensemble. I would have loved to hear a bit more power where possible but again, a very good concert! Then it was Brazilian party time with the "Brazilian Trombone ensemble". What a display of joy and musicality. There was no greater contrast possible with the girls from "Bones Apart". I had a great time! These three events directly after each other in combination with the heat in the hall made me very tired.


Diner time was spent with Pierre Volders and our students from the Rotterdam Conservatory. With a cool beer and lots of fun I headed to my bed and missed the BBC Big Band concert with Jiggs Whigham, Mark Nightingale and the incredible Wycliffe Gordon. I was told this was one of the highlights of the festival. I needed all energy for the upcoming last day of the ITF 2006.

Sunday July 23

The final day of this great event was there and again it felt like D-day to me. For me it meant the world premiere of Ilja Reijngoud's new piece "my Spanish Heart". In the morning the general rehearsal with the Yorkshire Imps on Ilja's composition and the encore I had in mind, Grieg's "the Hall of the Mountain King" in a Jazzy arrangement. I was very pleased with the rehearsal although it was clear the pieced needed more rehearsal time.


I had time to listen to Ian Bousfield and Wycliffe Gordon in their contribution to this concert. Ian's "Blue Bells of Scotland" was breath taking and a hard task for Chris Houlding to follow but what a show of technique and control over the instrument. Wycliffe played some of his own compositions and played like a real gospel lead-singer. It was clear the concert had great diversity in its program. I was glad with the result but would have loved to have more rehearsal time with the band. They did the best they could do and showed their quality in many moments but the difficult 5/4 bars and the jazzy feel of the piece made the total not free enough. I hope to have new chances on the piece soon. The reactions on the piece and my performance were very positive so after all I was happy!


The evening brought a nice concert with Royal Air Force Band. Solists were Brett Baker, Byron Fulcher and bass trombonist Graig McCrorie. As bass trombonist I was thrilled by the great sound of Graig both as soloist as in his ensemble playing. 


The last night in the Malthouse Pub was a nice one and the start of my vacation at last!!!

Congratulations to Steven Greenal and all the people of the organization for making another great ITF event possible!

Ben van Dijk


Published Aug 30 2006, 01:26 PM
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Andrew Mason said:

Hi, i was there for the world record breaking concert in 2006 and i'm desperately trying to find some video or audio from the event, if anybody has any please contact me

May 16, 2013 2:48 AM

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