Roanoke College Professor's Trombone Sonata Recorded by a Major Artist

SALEM, Va. -Summit Records, an internationally distributed record label, has just released a recording of Dr. Joseph Blaha's Sonata for Trombone and Piano. Blaha is associate professor of music and director of bands at Roanoke College. The sonata is included on a compact disc collection titled American Voices, Vol. II: Sonatas and was recorded by trombonist Mark Hetzler in collaboration with pianist Martha Fischer. Both are professors at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music, and Hetzler's resume includes appearances with several prestigious orchestras and brass ensembles.

As a member of the world-renowned Empire Brass since 1996, Hetzler has frequently performed as soloist with orchestras on four continents, as well as on live television and radio broadcasts in Asia and the United States. He also has released three previous solo CDs featuring contemporary compositions and arrangements for trombone and piano.

Hetzler was first introduced to Blaha's work when he performed Blaha's Broken Down Band and Psalm Twenty-seven with the Wisconsin Brass Quintet in 2006 and 2007. In describing Blaha's four-movement, reflective and introspective Sonata, Hetzler says, "I consider the work to be very deep and outside the box in terms of its formal construct. In some ways it contains Ivesian qualities, not so much in the compositional details, but in the episodic approach and the seemingly larger than life result."

Blaha, who received his doctorate in composition from the University of Oklahoma, is very pleased with the recording and says, "The artists brought out moments that I didn't even realize myself were there. They bring us into the silences of the piece and force us to listen to our own thoughts."

The Sonata for Trombone and Piano took Blaha four years to write and requires nearly half an hour to perform. It was the featured new work at the Eastern Trombone Workshop in 2001.

Blaha has composed several award-winning pieces, notably The Night Watch, which was the grand prize winner of the 2000 Michael Hennagin Prize in Composition. This recognition led to numerous performances of that work, which also was recorded on CD by The University of Oklahoma Percussion Orchestra in 2003.

Blaha composes for a variety of instruments and for voice, and a number of his compositions were commissioned by universities, churches or other organizations. Several of his performed works have aired on public radio. Blaha currently is writing a Broadway-style musical composition, a portion of which will be performed by the Roanoke College Children's Choir at their annual spring concert on April 18 at the Jefferson Center in Roanoke.

In addition to composing, teaching and directing, Blaha is an accomplished instrumentalist. He regularly performs on the trombone, bass trombone, euphonium and piano. He served for six years in The United States Army Band "Pershing's Own" and performs at annual U.S. Army Band alumni reunion events. In 2002, Blaha was inducted into the Iowa Rock 'n Roll Music Association Hall of Fame.

Roanoke College, an independent, co-educational, four-year liberal arts college in Salem, Virginia, combines firsthand learning with valuable personal connections in a classic, undergraduate setting. Roanoke prepares students for their futures through its commitment to providing a true classic college experience. Roanoke is one of just 276 colleges nationwide with a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, the nation's oldest and most prestigious honor society. The Princeton Review names Roanoke as one of the "best in the Southeast."

For additional information, call the Roanoke College Public Relations Office at (540) 375-2282.

Released: March 18, 2010
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