It isn’t always the best-known works of art that make the strongest impression. For School of Music professor and trumpeter Louis Ranger, some of the music that has most inspired him throughout his lifetime are pieces that fall a little under the radar. He has thoughtfully assembled some of these works for his January 10 Faculty Chamber Music concert, Favourites From a Life in Music—but for Ranger, a more accurate theme for the concert would be “music that I find interesting and rewarding that does not get performed frequently enough.”
The concert marks a double milestone for Ranger—36 years of teaching at the School of Music, as well as his forthcoming retirement—and features many current students, alumni and faculty colleagues, including Benjamin Butterfield, Susan Young, the Lafayette String Quartet and the UVic Chamber Singers. “Ironically, the best thing I can do is make myself unnecessary,” says Ranger in this video about his approach to teaching music. “When a student leaves here, they should understand their strengths, what they need to work on and how they’re going to get where they want to be.”
Ranger’s concert in the Phillip T. Young Recital Hall is the latest in the School of Music’s ongoing Faculty Chamber Music series. “It has become a bit of a tradition to honor various milestones in our colleagues’ lives in these concerts,” says Pamela Highbaugh Aloni, co-head of performance and cellist for the LSQ. “Lou has been a key inspiration and leader in our faculty since I can remember. His insights as a musician, educator and member of the university community at large have so positively impacted all of us. We look forward to sharing an evening of music that he loves.”
Looking back, Ranger can’t emphasize enough the importance of the chamber music experience to developing musicians. “The chamber music aspect is one of the strongest things about the School,” he says. “It’s kind of rare—very few schools offer faculty coaching of small groups, but this is where people really learn to listen and take responsibility. You can sit in a large ensemble and not necessarily know what’s going on all the time . . . but in a small group, if you don’t do it, it doesn’t happen. It does a lot to make students independent musicians.”
As a young man, Ranger studied with the noted likes of late Boston University orchestral trumpeter Armando Ghitalla and Juilliard’s William Vacchiano, former principal trumpet of the New York Philharmonic. From 1970 to 1978, he then performed internationally as a brass chamber music clinician with the acclaimed American Brass Quintet.
He has also performed with such orchestras as the New York City Ballet, the New York City Opera, Radio City Music Hall, the Boston Symphony, the Berlin Philharmonic and the New York Philharmonic, where he followed in Vacchiano’s footsteps as co-principal trumpet. Ranger was also first trumpet with the Musica Aeterna orchestra and, during the summer months, he is principal trumpet of the Aspen Festival Orchestra. He has released a CD entitled The Trumpet Comes of Age: 1940-1980 (with School of Music colleague Bruce Vogt).
Among Ranger’s Favourites From a Life in Music are the likes of the Capricorn Concerto (Samuel Barber’s homage to Bach), and Serenata by Alfredo Casella—a piece that entered Ranger’s repertory in the 1960s while studying with brass players of the Boston Symphony. Ranger gives credit to the music of Igor Stravinsky as one of his primary reasons for becoming a musician, and has dedicated the majority of this program to his works, including In Memoriam Dylan Thomas, The Owl and the Pussycat, and his Mass for Mixed Chorus and Double Wind Quintet.
Louis Ranger’s Favourites From a Life in Music
8pm Saturday, January 10 in the Phillip T. Young Recital Hall
MacLaurin Building B-Wing, University of Victoria
Tickets are $18 regular / $14 students, seniors or alumni and are available at the door or through the UVic Ticket Centre or 250-721-8480).
—Kristy Farkas, with files from John Threlfall