Celebrating the trombone

MARSHALL – Imagine a little more than a dozen trombone players jamming out to Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.”

That was the scene Saturday during the second annual Day of Trombone at Southwest Minnesota State University where trombone players of all ages from around the area gathered for a full day of small ensemble rehearsals, trombone choir rehearsals, recitals and a master class with guest bass trombonist/clinician Dr. James Borowski.

David Peterson, faculty member at SMSU and St. Cloud State University, founded the first Day of Trombone at SMSU – an event that celebrates the instrument and its music.

“It was a way to bring high school students within the area together to play in an ensemble,” Peterson said. He said there are a lot of good trombone players in the area. “Rather than do an honors band, why not bring in the low brass players? It’s one of those things that lent itself to the community. And it shows what we can do in a day.”

“It’s a lot of listening and learning as well,” Peterson added.

“It’s just a good day,” said SMSU band director John Ginocchio.

It was a day of family as well. Bob Meffert, along with his son, Mark and grandson, Michael, of Eagan, took part in the day-long event. Maxx and Noah Louwagie went to last year’s and were joined by their father, Brad, and uncle, Terry, this year.

“I convinced Terry (to come) about two days ago,” Maxx Louwagie said on Saturday.

Maxx Louwagie said he was on board with the Day of Trombone when Peterson suggested it.

“David just gave the idea, and I said ‘let’s do it,'” Maxx Louwagie said.

“It’s just a ton of fun altogether,” Noah Louwagie said. “You get to hear a master trombonist.” Also, he said, you get to hear those who have played trombone for years.

Bob Meffert also attended last year’s Day of Trombone and had told his son and grandson about it then. Michael Meffert got a new horn around Thanksgiving, Bob Meffert said, and Michael and Mark brought up going to the event.

“They put it in their schedule,” Bob Meffert said.

Mark Meffert said the Day of Trombone has given him a chance to perform music in a different setting.

“What I have been playing lately has been in church,” Mark Meffert said.

During the morning, the trombonists gathered to work in small ensembles. In one room, Peterson was working with Oscar Arce, Maxx Louwagie and Michael Meffert. Across the hall was Ginocchio with Kevin Gergen, Adam Ratz and Noah Louwagie and Milroy School music teacher Sam Fitzer. Bob Meffert and Mark Meffert and Brad Louwagie and Terry Louwagie were down the hall in another classroom.

The trombonists said it can be tiring to spend a whole day playing and rehearsing, but the Day of Trombone also provides many opportunities. Borowski, who is a bass trombonist and plays in the Birdland Big Band and Big Band Evolution in New York City, also performed a recital Saturday morning.

“You don’t usually hear a bass trombone as the lead,” Noah Louwagie said.

“It is an opportunity to experience the trombone in every different realm it may be in,” Fitzer said. He said that includes playing solos, and in small ensembles or large groups. The day ended with a festival concert.

Arce, who attended the first Day of Trombone, said the event is an opportunity to work with the best trombone players.

“And listen to an actual trombone choir,” he said, which is something you don’t hear very often.

Arce said he also learns how the instrument works, how to breathe and tones.

“It’s the only day I don’t get yelled at for having slide oil in my pocket,” Noah Louwagie said.

“It’s good, even though you have to stand a lot,” Gergen said.

Maxx Louwagie said the Day of Trombone can be a “weird” experience because it’s a lot of trombone players, and you never really know what’s supposed to come of it.

“Trombone players are a special breed,” Bob Meffert said.