By Megan McLaughlin
“I’ve been working on learning how to play the trombone,” Tav Daly said to me, half-sarcastically, in an interview in the Conservatory Library on Tuesday. A charming young man and a third-year trombone performance major at Oberlin Conservatory, will present his Junior trombone recital at 1:30 pm on Saturday, March 14th, in Stull Recital Hall. Daly’s will be the second of eight degree recitals from Oberlin’s trombone studio this year, following the appointment of new trombone professor John Gruber in the fall.
“When programming my recital, I wanted to begin with something that sounded Baroque-ish” Daly said. He’ll begin with 20th-century French composer Eugene Bozza’s Hommage à Bach — not Baroque exactly, but inspired by Bach. Following that, Daly will be joined by Amelia Horton and Conrad Smith (trumpets), Megan McLaughlin (horn), and Sam Weaver (bass trombone) for the first movement from Victor Ewald’s Brass Quintet No. 3.
The piece is a staple in the brass quintet repertoire, with sections that demonstrate unified brass playing and others that feature a lyrical trombone melody. The movement gives Daly an opportunity to demonstrate his chamber music skills as well as to collaborate with friends. “I thought it would be really nice to have my good friends play on my recital,” Daly said. “I feel like we sound good, and rehearsals have been going well.”
In addition to playing with his dear friends, Daly will be joined by faculty collaborative pianist Elena Loskova for all pieces except the quintet. Following the Ewald will be what Daly describes as the “pretty and high” Meditation from Thaïs by Jules Massenet, originally written for violin and harp.
The recital will conclude with Oberlin alum George Walker’s Trombone Concerto. While the Walker is not often heard on Oberlin stages, it provides Daly the opportunity to perform something more contemporary and refreshing. “I wanted to play something modern,” the trombonist said, “but I also didn’t want to play something that was very, very standard that all the trombonists, at least [the ones] in the room, have heard a million times before.”
Daly admitted that the hardest part of preparing for the recital has been building consistency and maintaining confidence. Performing a solo recital is an extremely vulnerable act, and although he knows that everyone in attendance will be there to support him, he still finds himself riddled with nerves. After going back and forth about which pieces he would be playing, Daly is now spending the final week leading up to his recital internalizing what he wants to sound like.
“If I can just pick up my trombone and play the recital medium-well, I’ll be okay with that. But maybe I’ll play it really good, or maybe it’ll be a complete train wreck, and that’s kind of where I am now. What I’m going to be focusing on in the last week is just making myself more consistent.”
Being the newest piece in Daly’s repertoire, the Walker Trombone Concerto has been the most difficult piece for him to prepare. “I know what I want to do musically at this point, it’s just a matter of being able to execute it effectively,” Daly said.
Daly is looking forward to this milestone in his career as a performer. “I’m putting too much weight on this one performance, so I need to stop that and just have fun. We’ll see how I do with that in the next week.” In the last few days before his concert, the trombonist is striving to get out of his own head and be present in order to enjoy the experience. “I hope it’s not like that for my senior recital,” Daly said, referring to the copious amounts of stress he has experienced. “I hope I figure out a way to have a better mindset about the whole thing.”
Guaranteed to be in attendance are his girlfriend, two brothers, parents, many studio mates and friends — and his beloved canine. “He’s kind of gonna steal the show. Most people are probably going to go to my recital just so they can see my dog, but I’m very excited about him coming. His name is Teddy, and he’s very cute.”
Regardless of your reason for attending, admission is free and all are welcome. The event will also be livestreamed.
Postscript – The recital has been canceled due to the Coronavirus. It will still go on as an unofficial event, but will not be livestreamed or include the Ewald brass quintet.