The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

Wilder night for bass clef pros

Low end legend Harvey Phillips may have been listening somewhere when professor of music Jerry Young and bassist Mark Bernat lit into Alec Wilder’s sonata for double bass and tuba Sunday night.

Bernat hadn’t played Wilder in 25 years — the personal and unique tone of the music made it stand out, he said.

Young and Bernat gathered outside L.E. Phillips Recital Hall, circled by a smattering of music students. Young said his connection to Harvey Phillips, the man the music was written for, made the performance special.

“Harvey Phillips was an important mentor and friend of both of us,” Young said as he glanced at Bernat and locked elbows with his wife Barbara. “He was probably Alec Wilder’s best friend in the music world.”

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This past Sunday, Bernat performed Alec Wilder’s “Down Low: Music for Euphonium, Tuba, Double Bass and Piano ” with Eau Claire professors Dr. Jerry Young and Dr. Barbara Young, as well as Eau Claire seniors Matthew Turek and Alex Winstrad.

Bernat is recognized as a double bass virtuoso. He has worked with a number of standout composers and has racked up many awards for his playing.

Although Wilder wrote more for tuba and euphonium than bass, Wilder was “ahead of his time for the bass, there wasn’t that kind of music written before,” Bernat said.

Winstrad and Turek opened the evening with the five-movement “Sonata for Euphonium and Piano.”

Turek is a student music teacher at the River Falls school district. He is currently in his last semester as an Eau Claire euphonium student.

“(Wilder) was a pioneering composer for those less-known instruments with smaller repertoires, Turek said. “He’s got a special place in our heart … it’s a very unique harmonic language and I think, very beautiful.”

Junior Leslie Stewart said she was unfamiliar with Wilder’s music prior to Sunday night’s performance. Arrangements for tuba and bass are rare — traditional melodies blended well with Avant Garde and jazz influences, she said.

“It was quirky … it was strange but somehow still very impressive,” Stewart said.

Audience turnout was sparse Sunday night — not unusual for recitals, but surprising because of the caliber of performers, Stewart said.

Gary Bird is a friend of Jerry Young and was a tuba and euphonium instructor in Pennsylvania for 36 years prior to moving back to Wisconsin six years ago. Turek currently plays in a community band that Bird conducts.

“Jerrys playing and they’re doing Wilder music, so those are two reasons I wanted to come,” Bird said. “I’ve played some Wilder and I’m fond of his music.”

Wilder is mostly known for writing movie music, show music and music for artists such as Frank Sinatra. His relationship with the Phillips family spurred him to write music for tuba and bass.

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Wilder night for bass clef pros