Writer, musician, and host

Euphonium in the classical world

I was at a recital about a week ago and had a conversation with another attendant I had just met. He asked my major, and I responded that I had graduated with a performance degree in euphonium. He then made a comment like, “Guess you aren’t expecting to get any work.” And I bit my tongue and let it slide. This other person was also a musician who ended up not pursuing a music degree for an unknown reason.

I chose an instrument I fell deeply in love with, an instrument where the color of the timbre is something that moves me deep in my soul, and an instrument that has the ability to match the cello in finesse and virtuosity. But what this man said does have some truth, the instrument is simply not very marketable. Nothing in classical music is really marketable anymore. One of my dear friends and colleagues, Harry Scannell, and I have had many long nights talking about this. In a market when music is easily accessible, only the people who are going to have a niche are going to succeed. And let us be honest, is it going to be the euphonium player who has the niche or the 3,000 violin players that are in LA alone?

I hope I can truly make a name for myself as a euphonium soloist to; be able to change minds and change the heart like I want to. Hearing a comment like that is really disheartening and people are set in their ways. Last year, I invited a piano player to one of my free concerts and simply said, “I have no interest in listening to euphonium and tuba.” When even people in my own field doesn’t give the instrument any respect, we have some issues. May the culture change for the better as time passes.

Take a listen to one of the pieces I love to play. Not terribly complicated or difficult, but stirs powerful emotions:

Folksong by Bruce Broughton Aaron VanderWeele, euphonium Bill Way, piano from his 2009 recording, Panache Program Note: One of the most versatile composers working today, Bruce Broughton writes in every medium, from theatrical releases and TV feature films to the concert stage and computer games.