VALDOSTA – Javian Brabham, a formidable talent, will grace the stage with Neruda’s Concerto for Trumpet in E-flat Major during the upcoming Valdosta Symphony Orchestra concert, “Beethoven and Blue Jeans.” His exceptional performance will be a highlight of the event, scheduled for this weekend.
However, Brabham’s mastery of this piece extends beyond its music. When queried about the concerto’s origin, he debunked a common misconception. “It wasn’t composed for the French horn,” he clarified. “It was originally crafted for the ‘corno da caccia,’ a valveless ‘hunting horn,’ distinct from the modern-day French horn.”
Brabham further elucidated, “The ‘corno da caccia’ of that era used a shallow cup mouthpiece akin to the trumpet. Given the concerto’s high range, it was likely intended for trumpet or high horn players of that time. As a result, the concerto would have resonated more closely with the trumpet’s timbre. Over time, owing to the sound and register demands of this composition, it has become a standard trumpet repertoire.”
The composer of this masterpiece, Johann Baptist Georg Neruda, was an illustrious 18th-century Czech artist, celebrated for his prowess as a composer, violinist, and cellist.
Neruda’s creation of the trumpet concerto was dedicated to Johann Georg Knechtel, a virtuoso of the horn, accomplished composer, and a member of the Dresden orchestra, as elucidated by Alan M. Rothenberg’s program notes, thoughtfully provided by the Valdosta Symphony Orchestra. Rothenberg added that the concerto adheres to the classical-era format of three movements, which progress from fast to slow and conclude swiftly.
Brabham shared insights into Neruda’s distinct style, remarking, “Neruda was renowned for his elegant melodic themes, and I believe this concerto serves as a prime example of his compositional finesse. It showcases these melodious classical motifs across each movement, fostering captivating interplay between the soloist and the orchestra.”
However, the Neruda piece is not without its challenges, particularly for trumpet players. Brabham articulated, “Executing this piece on the Eb trumpet, which is slightly smaller than the standard Bb or C trumpet, presents some unique difficulties. The concerto features intricate technical passages, ornamental embellishments, an expansive range, and demanding long phrases. It requires unwavering focus and finesse throughout the various registers.”
He emphasized that the Neruda concerto is considered a cornerstone of the trumpet repertoire, alongside two other iconic trumpet pieces from the Classical Era: Hummel’s Trumpet Concerto and Haydn’s Trumpet Concerto. “It holds immense significance for us as musicians, necessitating thorough study and performance,” Brabham affirmed.
This performance marks the second occasion that Brabham has presented the Neruda concerto in a concert setting, further solidifying his mastery of this renowned piece. Notably, Javian Brabham is not just a guest performer; he is an integral part of the Valdosta Symphony, where he has been an active member for five years.
In addition to his role as a performer, Brabham serves as an assistant professor of trumpet and holds the position of brass area chair at Valdosta State University. His illustrious career has included past roles as the assistant director of bands at Young Harris College and faculty membership at the South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities Summer Music Academy, as detailed in his VSU profile.
With his principal role as the VSO’s principal trumpet, he has also contributed his exceptional talents to the Albany Symphony Orchestra. Brabham’s musical journey extends beyond orchestras; he is a dedicated chamber musician and one of the founding members of the Brookwood Trio.
His extensive educational background comprises a doctorate in trumpet performance from Florida State, complemented by a certification in college teaching. He earned his master’s degree in trumpet performance from the University of New Mexico and a bachelor’s degree in music education from Florida State. Noteworthy mentors in his journey include Christopher Moore, Jeff Piper, John Marchiando, and Gary Malvern.
Reflecting on his musical journey, Brabham acknowledged the pivotal role of his musical family and shared his early discovery of the trumpet at the age of 10, igniting a passion that led him to join the beginner band in sixth grade. Through dedication and continuous improvement throughout middle and high school, he honed his ambition to pursue a professional career in music. Ultimately, he set his sights on becoming a trumpet professor and achieving recognition as a professional orchestra musician.
The Valdosta Symphony Orchestra, under the guidance of its music director, Howard Hsu, an associate professor of music and director of orchestra studies at Valdosta State University, is set to present an exceptional lineup for the “Beethoven and Blue Jeans” concert. The program includes a dynamic selection of works, such as Mozart’s Allegro from Serenade No. 13 in G Major, Mozart’s “Don Giovanni” Overture, and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 8 in F Major.
For this unique “Beethoven and Blue Jeans” concert, Hsu encourages both the orchestra members and the audience to embrace a relaxed dress code by donning blue jeans, enhancing the evening’s camaraderie.
The Valdosta Symphony Orchestra’s “Beethoven and Blue Jeans” is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, November 4, at the Whitehead Auditorium, located within the Valdosta State University Fine Arts Building at the corner of Oak and Brookwood. The concert will be preceded by a pre-concert chat at 6:45 p.m. for those seeking an informative preamble to the evening’s musical delights.