Trombonist Linda Pearse is an adjunct faculty member at the Jacobs School of Music, and the school's resident instructor of its predecessor, the sackbut.
She explained that the trombone has changed the least. The sackbut is made of a lighter material, but sackbut is pitched the same and played nearly identically.
The role of the sackbut was to accompany singers in churches and therefore has a much softer timbre. In much the same way, the modern trombone developed into a heavier, louder instrument because of its place in a large orchestra and modern concert halls.
For modern trombone players making the switch to its ancestor, the first noticeable difference is the decrease in volume of air the instrument requires. Next, the student has to think about detail in a different way. Phrasing is on a much smaller scale in Baroque music and much more detailed and ornament. Each note can have it's own articulation depending on the text it is accompanying.
"I notice my students take some time, six months to a year, to kind of start getting that concept in their head. 'How do I phrase this?' or 'How do I approach this from a text-based interpretation?'," Pearse said.
¡Sacabuche! has developed into a group of around ten, including singers, strings, keyboard, and of course, sackbut. Pearse attributes much of that success to the encouragement they receive from both the modern trombone department and the Early Music Institute.
Pearse added that most first-time audience members will be very surprised at how beautiful voice and trombone sound together.
"It's an amazing sound," says Pearse. The sound comes from an ensemble which consists of six baroque trombonists, and five singers and an organist. "And we're playing in a church which represents, as well as we can, the acoustics of St. Mark's Cathedral in Venice."
Above all, Pearse hopes that's that the wider audience will get past the name "sackbut" which can be associated with something out of the ordinary.
"A lot of the music is so virtuosic and so beautiful... I would dare people, come to this concert and really be pleasantly surprised. I think you'll hear something that will shock you and will change forever the way you hear the word sackbut."
Linda Pearse is the director of the ensemble Sacabuche and adjunct faculty at the Jacobs School of Music. They’ll make their Bloomington Early Music Festival debut on Monday, May 25th at 2 p.m. at First United Church.
Music from ¡Sacabuche!
Listen to “Lieber Herre Gott,” Johann Rosenmueller
Elise Figa soprano; Linda Pearse, Richard Townes, Greg Jackson, sackbuts; Yonit Kosovske, organ.
Listen to “Vulnerasti cor meum,” Francesco Usper
Elise Figa, soprano; Linda Pearse, Ricard Townes, Ray Horton, Mike DeWitt, Greg Jackson, sackbuts.
Listen to “Pater peccavi,” Archangelo Crotti
Elise Figa, soprano; Linda Pearse, Richard Townes. Greg Jackson, sackbuts; Matthew Leone, organ.