Young Artist Interview: Grant Jameson
US-born euphonist Grant Jameson studies with David Childs at the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama (RWCMD) in Cardiff. Since coming to the UK, he has won the 2014 Welsh Open Best Soloist prize, 2015 RWCMD Concerto Competition, 2013, 2014 and 2016 Philip Jones Brass Ensemble Competition, and BBC Radio 2 Young Brass Award. A Help Musicians UK Postgraduate Award holder for the 2016 academic year and recipient of a Musicians’ Company Award 2016, Grant performs extensively as both a guest soloist and in brass bands. In 2015, he released his first solo recording entitled Genesis.
When and where did you start learning the euphonium?
I started learning the euphonium at the age of 11 when I was back home in Dublin, Ohio, America.
How often do people ask ‘what is a euphonium?’
Interestingly enough, wherever I’ve been in the world, it has always been a question I get asked. As you know, the euphonium isn’t an incredibly well known instrument, but it is and always has been my goal to raise awareness of the instrument. Through my own music and commissioning new works for the euphonium, I hope to achieve this goal.
The euphonium is notoriously difficult to master. Why?
I think this is a very interesting question as I believe every instrument is difficult to master. The euphonium, of course, is very difficult, but I don’t believe that anyone can say that they’ve “mastered” their instrument. There is always more to learn and aspects of your music making to develop.
The euphonium is rarely heard outside traditional brass bands. How versatile is it?
I believe that the euphonium is as versatile as any brass instrument. It is capable of a huge range which opens up so much repertoire to explore. The fact that the timbre of the euphonium can be so varied enables the musician to play many different styles and provides a unique opportunity to mould into many different ensembles.
You’re no stranger to winning awards. Which one’s helped your career the most?
To be honest, every award that I’ve been lucky enough to receive has helped further my career. The BBC Radio 2 Young Brass award is one that I will certainly never forget. Having the opportunity to play on live radio is amazing, even with all of the stress that comes with the whole experience. Winning that award provided a lot of publicity and opportunities that have really helped my career.
Tell us about your recent solo recording Genesis
Genesis is my debut solo CD. It contains a wide variety of repertoire, including some new repertoire and new ensembles that feature solo euphonium. I really enjoy playing vocal music on euphonium as the instrument can have a very vocal quality. The CD features a few traditional band euphonium tracks accompanied by the Flowers Band. The most unique part of the CD features myself and two fantastic percussionists. We recorded music by Astor Piazzolla arranged in a very unique way. As I’ve said, I enjoy commissioning new works for the instrument. I am lucky enough to be able to ask my brother, Joshua, to write new music for me. The title of the CD, Genesis, is the title of his original work, which I must say is a personal highlight.
What performance are you most proud of?
It was the high point of my career playing Nigel Clarke’s The City in the Sea with the RAF Central Band last year. As an encore, myself and LSO Trumpeter Philip Cobb performed Ascension by Tom Davoren which was an unforgettable experience.
The road to musical greatness is rarely smooth. Any performance disasters?
Yes! It is very rare that a musician is 100% happy with their performance on any day. Playing a brass instrument is particularly difficult for performing long recitals, and typically running out of stamina creates unexpected hurdles during a performance that anyone would have to manage carefully. If I am not in peak physical condition then it is much harder to deal with this challenge.
What do you have planned for the rest of 2016?
I have a lot planned for the remainder of 2016 including starting my master’s degree at the RWCMD and various concert performances. I am looking forward to playing at the Foundling Museum in London in November as well. My weekly engagements include teaching, conducting the Severn Tunnel Band, and playing for the Flowers Band. Playing in the band takes me to some fantastic venues such as the Royal Albert Hall and Symphony Hall which are always highlights of my year.
Do you prefer to be called a euphoniumist, euphophonist, euphonist, euphist, or euphologist?
Although we have many fancy names for ourselves, I think euphonium player is good enough for me!