Big brass takes over Bliss

Yukitada Onitsuka, a YSU euphonium professor, teaches high school and Youngstown State University students tuba and euphonium techniques. Photo by Jessica Stamp / The Jambar

By Jessica Stamp

Tuba and euphonium music filled the air at Youngstown State University’s Bliss Hall for its 2nd Annual Tuba/Euphonium Day, April 15. 

Guest artists, Staff Sgt. Irving Ray, United States Army Band, Pershing’s Own, and Timothy Northcut, a tuba and euphonium professor from the Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music taught tuba and euphonium master classes to high school and YSU students who attended.

The day started with a warm-up session with Yukitada Onitsuka, a YSU euphonium professor, then a panel discussion, a student ensemble concert and ended with a Ray and Northcut recital.

Onitsuka said the event’s main motivation was to recruit high school and YSU students into the tuba and euphonium program.

“It’s a recruitment to be honest with you,” Onitsuka said. “We want to let society know — society at YSU know — that there is something active going on in Youngstown State University.” 

Onitsuka said the tuba and euphonium program is open to all students, not just tuba and euphonium majors. 

“They don’t play it simply because they are in a different major or simply because they don’t think they are good enough, the tuba-euphonium ensemble is open for everybody,” Onitsuka said. 

Onitsuka said it was exciting to have Ray and Northcut visit as guest artists.

“I wanted to get my students to have an opportunity to meet with those people and talk to those people not through YouTube … actually talk to them, interview them and hear their sound live and teach [students] live,” Onitsuka said. 

Onitsuka also said the tuba and euphonium ensemble first invited Northcut in 2020 for the event but had to cancel it because COVID-19 hit and Ohio shut down.

“I was planning to have [Northcut] on campus back in 2020 and we had everything ready, I figured out the budget, travel plan and programmed everything,” Onitsuka said. “The state of Ohio decided to shut down everything and the event was canceled.”

Onitsuka said it was nice to see Northcut in person again because Northcut was his professor in graduate school.

“We’re inviting him up here, so I’m so happy and looking forward to the event and inviting my teacher to the campus that I teach is going to happen finally,” Onitsuka said. 

Connor Remington, a senior music education major, said students could learn from Ray’s and Northcut’s experience and knowledge of tuba and euphonium at the event.

“The insightfulness that Tim Northcut and Sgt. Ray have to give to students who registered for this event and also being able to play side by side with collegiate musicians at this level and be able to participate in the mass ensemble,” Remington said. “It’s a good experience in my opinion.”

Ryan Lamb, an incoming freshman music education major, said this year was his second time going to the event and finds it knowledgeable learning from professionals. 

“I’m excited about the experience of working with professionals,” Lamb said. “It’s just a great experience to have someone who you know is one of the greats to come in and tell you how you’re doing as a professional.”

Lamb also said it’s nice that students can come to YSU to observe and learn from professionals. 

“It’s nice to have a place where students can come in and actually learn about the instrument and see what other people can do with their instrument,” Lamb said.