January 13, 2010

Recital will tie the tuba to movie music

by Andrea Hahn

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- The School of Music at Southern Illinois University Carbondale welcomes the University and area community to a faculty recital featuring that embodiment of movie music, the tuba.

If the tuba doesn’t say movie magic to you, come to the concert and see why it does to Chris Combest, lecturer in tuba and euphonium at SIUC only since August 2009.

The recital begins at 7:30 p.m. on Jan. 26 in the Old Baptist Foundation Recital Hall. There is no admission charge. David Lyons, collaborative pianist in the School of Music, joins Combest in this performance.

Combest said he likes to build a musical recital program around a theme.

“The theme that presented itself this time is ‘Movie Music,’” he said. “Yes, I know what you’re saying -- ‘Tuba and movie music?’”

He explained that he chose music from German film music composer Rolf Wilhelm, whom he compared to John Williams, and also John Williams.

John Williams is the composer made famous by the Star Wars movies -- the Darth Vader motif, the triumphant march, the eerie Master Jedi themes. Williams wrote a concerto in the mid-1980s that includes references to his music in such films as “Superman,” and “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.”

Wilhelm’s music lends mood to such German films as “Abelard,” “Doktor Faustus,” and “Die Ringe des Saturn,” known in English as “Ring of Darkness.”

In addition to compositions by Williams and Wilhelm, Combest includes music from Kryzstof Penderecki, whose compositions appeared in “The Exorcist,” and “The Shining.”

So, tubas and movie music.

Rounding out the performance is a selection from Tchaikovsky’s opera “Iolanta,” a lyric one-act opera featuring a blind princess, love, and a magical cure.

“While Tchaikovsky did not write for films, he did write opera and opera is what people went to for larger-than-life entertainment before there were movies,” Combest said. “I’m ending the recital with a selection from John Williams’ ‘Star Wars: Return of the Jedi.’”

Combest said tuba and its smaller relative, the euphonium, often “play a supporting role to other instruments in the orchestra.” However, he noted that both “are capable of some of the most beautifully expressive sounds in music simply because they can do things that people don’t expect them to do.”

“We are living in a ‘Golden Age’ of the tuba and euphonium right now,” he said. “The traditional boundaries are being challenged musically, and things have never looked or sounded better for us.”

Combest said he hopes, most of all, that people will come to hear a different sort of recital than they might expect, that they’ll have fun -- and that they’ll draw their own conclusions about the tuba and euphonium as instruments capable of unexpected range and expression.