International Trombone Festival ends today with concert in Columbus

lgierer@ledger-enquirer.comJune 28, 2013 

In the Broadway show "The Music Man," 76 trombones led the big parade. Several hundred more trombones than that have been making sweet music near Broadway in Columbus this week.

Peter Bowden says that hosting an event such as the International Trombone Festival, which finishes its four-day run in Columbus today, means more to the city than just its economic impact of $300,000.

Another benefit, according to the president and CEO of the Columbus Convention & Visitors Bureau, is that it helps Columbus gain the reputation as a city that can successfully host such an event and as a place worth visiting.

"The reputation of the Columbus State Schwob School of Music and the phenomenal music halls at the RiverCenter played a big role in getting this festival," Bowden said, adding that festival organizers he has spoken with are pleased with the Columbus choice.

The festival, sponsored by the International Trombone Association, is usually held in larger venues as trombone enthusiasts come from around the world. Festival director Jon Bohls mentioned that some of the recent locations were Paris, New Orleans and Las Vegas. Nashville, Tenn., has been a host, as well as Birmingham, England.

The International Trombone Association is a nonprofit organization that promotes trombone and all trombone-related activities around the world. Formed in 1972, the membership consists of 4,000 members in 69 countries.

Bohls, a professional performer, has played the trombone for more than 50 years and gives private lessons in his hometown of Carrollton, Texas, a suburb of Dallas. He is a former school band director.

Bohls said that counting attendees, featured performers and exhibitors, between 950 and 1,000 people have been taking part in the festival.

"For a festival like this to be a success, it must have a host city willing to work to make it go and that is Columbus," Bohls said.

He said those connected with CSU have done a good job with the festival. The school donated the use of its facilities which Bohls called "very impressive."

The Columbus Marriott served as the main festival hotel. Some visitors have been staying in Columbus State student housing.

The host for the event is Bradley Palmer, a professor of trombone at Columbus State. In a welcoming letter, Palmer told those attending that he was confident that they would leave inspired and with their passion and enthusiasm for the trombone stronger than ever.

Bohls said that at the festival people have been hearing all kinds of trombone music. There is some jazz, some classical. The purpose of the festival, he said, is not just to hear some of the world's best trombone players but to learn how to become better in teaching sessions.

"We are here to promote trombone," he said.

Bohls said trombone is his favorite instrument. He said it is more like the human voice. One can show all kinds of emotion with the instrument. "You can play as high as you want. Play it as low. You can do anything," Bohls said.

Large rooms in the Columbus Convention & Trade Center have been taken over by exhibitors attempting to sell trombones and trombone-related items.

One person attending the festival who has been having a good time is 22-year-old Jurgen van Oostenbrugge from Amsterdam, Netherlands. He is a member of the Amsterdam Conservatory Trombone Ensemble.

He and his band members are performing here after winning the prestigious International Trombone Association sponsored Emory Remington Competition. The ensemble beat out 19 other international competitors.

He said he likes the friendly atmosphere here and that he does not mind the festival not being in a large city.

"All the people are close together and you have everything right here," he said.

Oostenbrugge mentioned a visit to The Loft restaurant downtown as one highlight of his trip.

Oostenbrugge, 22, said he fell in love with the trombone at an early age and that anyone serious about trombone should attend one of these festivals.

Several college trombone choirs came to play here including those from the University of Alabama, University of Kentucky, Baylor University, Texas Tech and Stetson.

A dozen professional artists including Charles Vernon, the bass trombonist for the Chicago Sympony Orchestra, and Fred Wesley, who once performed in the band of soul singer James Brown, have come to play.

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