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Members of the "Birds of Paradise" Trumpet Ensemble
are (from left) Brandon Hess, Jessica Sawall, Lucas Schurman, Nick
Pietuszka, Adrianna Korey and Derek Dillman. Not pictured is director Robert Skoniczin.
The University of Delaware Birds of Paradise Trumpet Ensemble took
first place at the International Womens Brass Conference (IWBC), held
June 10 at Rowan University.
The ensemble, under the direction of Robert Skoniczin, adjunct
trumpet instructor at UD, consists of Derek Dillman, Adrianna Korey,
Brandon Hess, Nick Pietuszka, Jessica Sawall and Lucas Schurman.
The students performed in a preliminary round and then moved on to
finals, where they took top honors in the inaugural Ginger Turner
Ensemble Competition at the IWBC. They competed against groups from
across the country, including a trombone quartet from the Washington,
D.C., area and the Bluebonnet Trio from the University of Texas at
Competition is nothing new to these students, who appeared earlier
this spring in the live semifinal round of the 2017 National Trumpet
Competition (NTC), held at Metropolitan State University in Denver,
Colorado. This year they have competed against noted schools with
well-established programs, such as the Curtis Institute of Music,
Indiana University Jacobs School of Music and Baylor University, to name
This is a very special group of students who have dedicated a great
deal of practice throughout the course of this year to perfect their own
individual playing as well as learning how to interact at a very high
level in a chamber ensemble, said Skoniczin. Each of them has been an
inspiration to the rest of the trumpet studio, the larger UD Trumpet
Ensemble and the rest of the Department of Music.
Representing UD was a driving force for the students. We thought it
would be fun to push ourselves and work toward a goal, said Lucas
I wanted us to expose other portions of the country to what
wonderful things we are doing here in the music department and at the
University of Delaware, added Derek Dillman.
The week prior to IWBC, each member of the ensemble performed as part
of a trumpet prelude at the International Trumpet Guild (ITG)
Conference in Hershey, Pennsylvania. They were among the 30-plus
volunteers that Skoniczin organized and coordinated as part of his role
with this years ITG conference.
Representing UD and our teacher, Robert Skoniczin, well was also a
big priority and responsibility, Adrianna Koresy said, and that
definitely pushed us to perform our best at every public performance.
Choosing the proper composition to use for competition can be
problematic, especially since the players rehearse the same music for
more than six months.
Skoniczin said he discussed close to 10 pieces of varying ensemble sizes with the group before selecting Erik Morales Birds of Paradise. That
work has many opportunities to showcase individual sounds -- B-flat, C
trumpets, flugelhorns and a piccolo trumpet are all called for in the
score -- as well as gymnastic feats of technique throughout the
ensemble, he said. The work holds a special place in my heart since I
was fortunate to play its premier at Carnegie Hall with Tromba Mundi, a
professional trumpet sextet with members from major institutions from
around the country, in October 2015.
Birds of Paradise was commissioned and first recorded by Tromba Mundi on The Quest for Adventure album the same year and was produced by Skoniczin.
As with any major undertaking, its not all glamour. Dillman noted,
There was arguing, there were blowups in rehearsal, there were tears;
but for every negative feeling, there were equally positive ones.
The most difficult part for member Brandon Hess was learning to
match the multiple instruments and finding new ways to approach the
piece after playing it over a period of months.
Through this process we have learned how to manage a rehearsal
schedule and learned efficient rehearsal and performance techniques,
Korey said. We learned how to prepare and get ready before each
performance so that each of us were ready to play at our absolute best.
Having a lasting impact on the UD trumpet studio and the music
department has been a goal of mine for several years now, Skoniczin
said. Now that the group has experienced some well-deserved
recognition, I am sure that this excitement will continue.
Schurman added, This is something we want other areas of the music
department to experience. It is important for the students, as well as
for the overall image of the department.
All the students agreed that theyre ready to start planning for the
2018 National Trumpet Competition at the University of North Texas.
Watch out trumpet world, the Blue Hens are coming, Skoniczin said.
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