Eminent Trombonist to Perform at UM

Abbie Conant stars March 5 in multimedia 'Aletheia'

Renowned trombonist Abbie Conant is set to perform at 7:30 p.m. Thursday (March 5) in Nutt Auditorium. Admission is free. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – The LOU community will have an opportunity to see a musician at the top of her field Thursday evening (March 5), when trombonist Abbie Conant performs “Aletheia,” a musical theater piece that also includes vocal, piano and electronics, at the University of Mississippi.

Presented by the UM Department of Music, the 7:30 p.m. performance in Nutt Auditorium is free and open to the public.

“Abbie Conant is one of the world’s eminent trombonists,” said Micah Everett, associate professor of music and director of the university’s low brass studio. “She has long since established herself as a first-rate pedagogue and performer of our standard repertoire, yet has always had an eye toward expanding our range of expression. ‘Aletheia’ is just one example of that drive.”

“Aletheia,” an hourlong multimedia performance that Conant calls a new genre of chamber music theater, uses music, melodic soundscape, dialogue and singing to tell the story of an artist trying to make sense of her role in a troubled world.

In a review of the piece, German critic Jutta Bärsch writes that during the 60-minute performance, Conant maintains dramatic tension “without losing the suspense even for a second.”

“A virtuosic achievement by the protagonist and a great performance that presented experimental music in a tonal soundscape,” she continued.

Although “Aletheia” is a nontraditional work in its use of electronic soundscapes, it rests squarely on the musical talent of Conant and her husband, William Osborne, who composed the piece. Conant has a long history of performing trombone at the highest levels in traditional orchestras in the US and Europe, and is a frequent judge at international competitions and a clinician in some of the world’s most esteemed music schools.

Conant and her work have been profiled on NPR’s “Performance Today” and other radio programs in Germany, Canada and the U.S.; in the Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post and other U.S. and European press; as well as in leading brass publications.

Conant also successfully fought entrenched gender discrimination at the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra, where she then won the position for principal trombone at a screened audition in 1980 – a story that inspired Malcolm Gladwell’s bestseller, “Blink.” She held that position for 13 years, during which time she was awarded the official honorable title of Kammersolistin der Stadt Muenchen for exemplary musical service to the city of Munich.

Conant’s talent and interest in exploring music in new ways has taken her not only to the heights of traditional trombone performance, but also to all types and genres of music, including improvisation, early music and collaborations with unexpected instruments, including guitar, harp and electronics.

“Thursday night, we’ll have an opportunity to see not only a world-class trombonist, but a truly innovative performer,” Everett said.

Conant’s visit to campus will also include a master class for Ole Miss music students.