Five Ways to Diversify Your Recital Repertoire

Today’s post is by our very own Co – Head Brass Chick –  Kate Amrine

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A passionate and creative performer, Kate Amrine is a prominent trumpet player balancing a multifaceted career from developing new repertoire and curating concerts to freelancing with many different groups in the New York City area. Recent performances include a tour of Japan with the New York Symphonic Ensemble, a solo recital in Mississippi at the Music by Women Festival, and an opera at BAM with string ensemble A Far Cry. Upcoming performances include a recital at the New Music Gathering, a big band tour, a concerto in her hometown in Maryland, and a concerto in Japan. She is extremely dedicated to commissioning and performing new music, premiering over 30 pieces both as a soloist and a chamber musician. Kate’s debut album As I Am was released in November 2017 featuring new music by women composers. Kate also frequently performs on Broadway and in other regional musical theater productions both in and outside of the NYC area. As an educator, Kate enjoys teaching in several after school music programs and serves as an Adjunct Instructor at New York University.

— here are the Five Ways to Diversify Your Recital Repertoire —

1. Don’t limit yourself to standard instrumentation like brass + piano or brass quintet. Look into chamber music that involve brass with winds, strings, or percussion. Some of my favorites are Eric Ewazen’s Trio for trumpet, violin, and piano; Handel’s Let the Bright Seraphim for trumpet and soprano; and Libby Larsen’s “Ridgerunner” for trumpet and percussion.  


2. Consider programming music by composers who are not dead white men. It can be such a great experience to work with a living composer who you know personally and can be a part of the process. Having an audience meet and hear from the composer also gives a whole new level to a performance. Use your recital as an opportunity to incorporate music by women composers and/or diverse groups who are often less represented and explored.  These efforts can have an incredible wave of reactions in audience members who may not have heard music by someone who looked like them and may not have realized those people even existed. 


3. Make choices with lighting and staging that go beyond a standard classical recital. Sometimes it can be boring for an audience member to watch a performer stand in the same place behind the music stand for a while. Consider changing it up visually. Collaborate with a dancer or a lighting technician on a piece. Think of how you can incorporate something visually that adds a different element beyond what simply playing the piece would have conveyed. Personally, I have performed a solo in a balcony overlooking the recital hall, performed a piece entirely in the dark, and performed a piece with the performers spaced out around the venue instead of front and center on stage. 


4. Perform some of your own compositions or arrangements. Outside of being a valuable skill and learning experience, it really adds something extra when an audience hears something written or arranged by the performer themselves. You are able to tell the story of the piece, your inspiration behind it, and why you chose to write it. These stories can connect you with your audience in a way that may often be more meaningful then playing xxx’s Sonata Op. 99.


5. Have the entire recital take place in a non traditional venue or format. Consider a venue outside the concert hall, like a bar or community center – where you may be able to attract a wider audience and create a different experience. Perhaps you can have a beer pairing with half of the pieces or create certain mini food courses with a movement of a piece. Even changing up the format and allowing audience members to walk around or chat in between pieces can create a different vibe that may be more refreshing than the standard classical concert experience.

There are many more options that I could have drawn from but hopefully these are helpful to opening up your perspective on recital repertoire. Many of them apply to standard concerts as well. We would love to hear which of these, or other options, you often take advantage of when planning a performance so please don’t hesitate to comment or be in touch. Hope this helps!

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