Trumpet Player in Concert for Community Concert Association

Review By James French, Freeport, IL

Thursday night a beautifully charming couple, Ronald Romm, trumpet player, and his pianist accompanist, Avis Fedge Romm, enthralled an enthusiastic audience in the second concert of this year’s community concert series. Playing songs drawn from the works of such compositional giants as Beethoven, Debussy, Ravel, Gershwin, Puccini, Verdi, and Bizet, the Romm’s demonstrated a flair for their own unique arrangements, producing some wonderfully lyric and expressive musical moments, and capturing the essence of melody and accompaniment in each one they played. Most of their songs may not have been written for the two instruments of piano and trumpet alone, but as Avis Romm explained to the audience, perhaps composers like Debussy, “didn’t realize how well they had written for the trumpet!”

In addition to the music, which wafted with a sweet sensuousness unlike what I would have expected from a trumpet player, part of the charm of the evening was the dialogue between the musicians and the audience itself. After their opening number, one or the other of the Romm’s would introduce each piece, often with a note of history about the composer. And in the show’s closing, the couple even took questions from the audience, telling us that they had been married for “several”  years, and that they met in an “extremely difficult” ear training class at the Julliard School of Music in New York.

One of the musical highlights came just before intermission, when Avis introduced Ronald as one of the “sopranos.” He reappeared onstage dressed in an outlandish wig, and a red apron, to play songs from “The Ultimate Opera.” They included poetic and powerful renditions of “Un Bel Di” from Pucinni’s “Madama Butterfly,” and arias from Georges Bizet’s “Carmen,” and Guiseppi Verdi’s “La Traviata.” These, along with number after number, were greeted with enthusiastic applause and shouts of “bravo!”
Ronald Romm opened his concert by playing a haunting rendition of “Amazing Grace” from the wings of the stage. Then he came onstage to play a very smoothly written song called “Seeing the Light,” and a second with a Mexican flair called “Jubilation.” – both compositions written by Ronald and Avis.

The program included “Pavane” by French Composer Ravel, who so named it as a song for a dead princess, “because it was the only title he could think of.” The Debussy classic, “Clair De Lune,” a feat for any accomplished pianist, was given a new meaning with Ronald playing the trumpet on the melodic highlights, while Avis continued with the continuing arpeggios of the piece.

I enjoyed the demonstration of “triple tonguing” which Ronald brought to his presentation of “The Carnival of Venice,” by Del Staigers. It is a fun song, known to many schoolchildren as the melody used in the game song, “My Hat It Has Three Corners.”
The strength of Beethoven was evident in the playing of the Adagio Cantabile for the “Pathetique” Sonata, where the two musicians again combined to demonstrate a very unfamiliar element of the trumpet, an evocative, emotive, and eloquent style that wooed the listener.

After the intermission, Ronald and Avis combined for a very lively presentation of the “Three Preludes” by George Gershwin. A question and answer period followed, before the final number, an amazing and thoroughly satisfying playing of Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue,” with Romm doing things on a trumpet I thought only possible with a clarinet or a slide trombone. The arrangement was from the famous Russian trumpet player, Dokzhitzer, who the Romm’s met several years ago when he was on an American tour.

Ronald Romm, a founding member of the “Canadian Brass” group, is now in the second year of his solo career, and he and Avis make their home in Sarasota, Florida, with their two teenage sons. They welcome email, and can be reached at their web site.