On Friday, February 22, JMU Brass Band was fortunate to feature British euphonium virtuoso Steven Mead.
Mead has a reputation around the world as one of the leading euphonium soloists, clinicians, and teachers and tours extensively giving recitals, masterclasses, lessons, and concert appearances.
JMU was one of the last stops on Mead's North American tour which stretched from Atlanta to Canada with many stops between. Each stop lasted only a day or two before packing up and moving to the next location and next set of performances.
Mead arrived at JMU on Thursday and had a rehearsal with the Brass Band that night. From the first few notes of the rehearsal we knew we were in for something special. The rehearsal was quite fun and certainly insightful to hear the way he approached each of the pieces he would be performing.
On Friday the day began with a masterclass. Mead lead off the class with a brief introduction of who he is and what he does before he transitioned into working with the student soloists. Three JMU students, one high school student, and one lucky young 8th grade student were featured in the masterclass. Each one performed their solo and then received instruction from Mead, who's high energy and quick wit kept the class fun and engaging. He encouraged and engaged not only each of the soloists but each person who was able to attend.
The evening concert was an exciting event for sure, with nearly a sold-out audience in attendance. After two selections from the band, Mead took the stage to perform Vladimir Cosma's Euphonium Concerto. The performance was exhilarating and the audience's standing ovation proved just how much they appreciated Mead's stellar performance of a wonderful piece.
The second half saw Mead featured on three more traditional solos; Beautiful Colorado, Be My Love, and Napoli. Each piece showcased a different facet of his tremendous talent and sense of musicality. Being in every way the consummate performer, Mead brought his own sense of flair to the second half, from his impressive cadenzas to his creative interaction with the conductor and even his custom shirt looked like it was on fire.
It was a tremendous concert with Steven Mead and was certainly a wonderful and memorable way to conclude his all too brief visit to JMU.