How I Spent My Summer: Nathaniel Brickens

Thursday, August 20, 2015

The University of Texas campus was quiet over the summer, while students and faculty spent their time working on projects around the globe. The College of Fine Arts was no exception. Students and faculty from all three departments took advantage of the break from coursework to pursue research, teach seminars or test the waters of a future career. Here is a glimpse into what happens when classes end, and the fun begins.

Butler School of Music Professor Nathaniel Brickens attended the International Trombone Festival in Valencia, Spain.Nathaniel Brickens conducting the UT Trombone Choir in performance at the International Trombone Festival in Spain.

Can you tell me a little bit about the Trombone Festival and your participation?

The International Trombone Festival (ITF) is the "event of the year" for the world's trombonists. Celebrating its 44th anniversary, this year’s festival was hosted by the Conservatorio Superior de Musica in the beautiful city of Valencia, Spain. The ITF provided an amazing opportunity for our students to perform and immerse themselves in a foreign culture, while attending the ITF for a week of clinics, master classes, recitals, concerts and panel discussions. Of the 33 ensembles invited to perform, only three were from the U.S. It was a great honor for us to have an opportunity to showcase our ensemble and the incredible music program here at UT.

Is there anything unique about this event you really like?

ITFs provide a forum for the students to interact with some of the world's leading performers and teachers and to witness, first hand, global performance standards. Each year, music centers from around the world submit bids to host the festival. Valencia was chosen for a number of reasons, including the strength of the music program at the local conservatory, access to a disparate collection of first-class performance venues, the excellence of its civic musical organizations and the city’s rich historical and cultural heritage. The Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia—one of the ITF venues for the orchestra and other large ensemble concerts—is a masterpiece of modern architecture, rivaling the Sydney Opera House [in Australia] and other international music venues in terms of its beauty and magnificence. The Palau was designed by the famous Valencian architect Santiago Calatrava.

What was one of the highlights or memorable moments from the summer?

Our performance, of course, was highlight No. 1. The students played a superb, one-hour-long concert that was very warmly received by a standing-room-only ITF audience. Another highlight was hearing the international-acclaimed Sacqueboutiers de Toulouse perform an outdoor evening concert of early music—on sackbuts, the ancient predecessor to the trombone—in the courtyard of the Real Monasterio de Nuestra Señora del Carn of Valencia, a former Carmelite convent, built in 1281.

What do you hope the students took away from the festival?

By design, ITFs provide a setting for musicians to meet, share scholarship and performance artistry, hear new compositions, try out the latest instrument designs, sample new equipment and enjoy camaraderie unique to our association. Over the years, these types of experiences have proven to be very important to the future successes of our students. It is my hope that this festival assisted the students in gaining a clearer vision of what is possible in our field and just how hard they must work to reach their newly set horizons for excellence.

While in Spain, did you take some time to enjoy yourself or do any sightseeing?

Yes, my wife and I spent some time at the beach (on the Mediterranean Sea), and as a history buff, the Torres de Serranos (1391), the Plaza de la Virgen (former site of an ancient Roman forum), the Catedral de Valencia (1262) and similar sites were not to be missed. We also toured the futuristic cityscape of southern Valencia’s Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias, sampled Valencian wines and tapas and enjoyed many versions of Valencia’s classic signature dish, paella. The students and I savored a wonderful parting meal together at El Rall, a marvelous sidewalk restaurant in old town that one of the students had discovered earlier in the week—fue increíblemente deliciosa!

Back to top