The trombone is known to many as being loud, aggressive or cartoonish. But for Lucas Rego Borges and the newly-formed Ohio Trombone Quartet, it is also capable of sounding lyrical, warm, soft, fast, slow and, not to mention, beautiful.
Borges, an assistant professor of trombone at Ohio University, makes up one-fourth of the brass-heavy quartet who are set to play in the Glidden Hall recital hall Wednesday at 8 p.m., kicking off a four-college tour including OU, Ohio State University, Muskingum University and Indiana University of Pennsylvania.
He and Tony Weikel, who attended Ohio State together, formed the traditional trombone quartet with Dr. Joseph Brown, a trombonist and instructor of rock history and music theory at OU, and Lucas Kaspar, a music instructor at Muskingum University.
Borges said the musical “flexibility and beauty of the trombone” are present in the quartet’s performances, contradicting the seemingly narrow scope of the instrument in the public eye.
The arrangement of a traditional trombone quartet consists of three tenor trombones and one bass trombone, played by Kaspar in this case. Bass trombones have one more valve than tenor trombones, Ben Stingo, a first-year trombone performance graduate student familiar with the recital, said.
The brass instrument comes in many varieties from contra-bass at the lowest pitch to soprinano and piccolo at the highest pitch.
“Trombone plays like a go-between the tuba and the low trumpet,” Stingo said. “When students are first taught trombone, it’s sort of like a funny, clumsy, cartoonish instrument. But once you get older, it becomes more serious.”
Stingo added that the slide allows for an infinite possibility of notes and that players must be exact in their slide lengths to achieve a clear delivery. The slide is a U-shaped mechanism that raises and lowers the pitch of the instrument based on how far the player extends or retracts it.
The name “Ohio Trombone Quartet” arose out of its members wanting to keep the group based within the state, Borges said.
“All of us are professional musicians from central or southern Ohio,” Borges said. “But we all come from different backgrounds. I’m originally from Brazil.”
He said the group held rehearsals this summer that lasted four hours each. Although this task did not prove easy as some quartet members live and work in different parts of the state, as far as two hours away.
Brown said playing chamber music, or music performed by a small ensemble of musicians, provides an enjoyable opportunity for collaboration.
“I always enjoy playing with other musicians who like chamber music,” Brown said. “We want people to enjoy the experience and take away the idea that the trombone is a beautiful instrument that can be played in a chamber ensemble.”
Brown said chamber music allows musicians to play more independently and “hold up their end of the bargain.”
“Our music goes back as far as the 16th century up to the mid-2000s,” Brown said.
According to the Facebook event, the quartet is set to play classical works by Bach, Debussy, Hector Berlioz and a piece by jazz trombonist Michael Davis. Borges noted that Michael Davis had previously spent 15 years playing with The Rolling Stones and has worked with Bob Dylan and Michael Jackson, as well.
Following this leg of tour dates, the quartet looks to remain active and play more shows in the future.
Borges summed up his thoughts on the valved apparatus by paraphrasing the renowned trombonist Hector Berloiz, saying “the trombone is the only instrument that sings like angels and roars like lions.”