By Mary Elizabeth Nordstrom
Kennebunk, ME, 20 February 2010. Pure golden quality of solo instrumental tone was one’s reward for seeking out the 4 p.m. concert by West Point Band’s Euphonium soloist Jason Ham, with Warren King who served as both piano and organ accompanist. Flutist Bonnie Ham joined her husband in a flute and euphonium work; her flute provided a brilliant complement to the mellifluous euphonium, all the while accompanied by the subtle yet exuberant piano accompaniment of Maestro King, the sitting organist and music director at Christ Church, Kennebunk. King played a superior supportive role throughout the program. He seems ideally destined to become a euphonium accompanist!
The distinguished composer Morton Gold (1933- ) who now resides in Maine was a member of the audience. He responded that although this was not the premiere of his “Sonata, Op. 73”, it was only the second time he has heard it performed. Perhaps it can be said that it was the first time it had been played in this order, II, Andante Molto and then I, Allegro Moderato. Serious treatment of the accessible melodies would not preclude its being used as an instrumental interlude in a crossover program with popular music of the Thirties and Forties. The composition is both contemporary and immediately appealing, offering rare songs without words.
The remarkable, call it heavenly, blending of euphonium and organ in an arrangement of “The Lord’s Prayer”, by Alfred Hay Malotte (1895-1964), virtually cried out to be recorded so that it can be prescribed and used ad lib for spiritual healing. The very performance was uplifting to the point of being almost tonally surreal, even as one might imagine the Music of the Spheres. The specific words of this prayer that would be recalled spontaneously by most listeners are used in their craft by certain Christian healers. The unspoken words came through Ham’s performance strongly enough to heal sorrow as well as pain. As a church musician, I was inspired to put the euphonium/pipe organ performance of “The Lord’s Prayer” on the top of my list of selections to be considered for future memorial services.
Selections included in the hour long program included “Air and Variations on ‘Grandfather’s Clock’ “, George Doughty; “Peace”, John Golland (1942-1993); “Duet for Flute and Euphonium”, Elizabeth Raum (1945- ); “Cherry Ripe”, Charles Horn (1786-1849), arr. Bale; “Variations on Chopsticks”, Brandon Ridenhour (1986- ).