As a member of “The President’s Own” U.S. Marine Band, Hiram Diaz has made quite a name for himself. Receiving many honors for his beautiful performances, Diaz has played with the Baltimore Symphony, Cincinnati Symphony and National Symphony Orchestras. This past Sunday, he graced us with his presence at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, playing as a featured performer alongside the UMBC Brass Ensemble.
Diaz is a master of music; he is a euphoniumist, trombonist, vocalist and music educator. He studied at Miami’s New World School of the Arts, the University of Cincinnati-College Conservatory of Music and the University of North Texas. He has also won the International Tuba and Euphonium Conference Artist Euphonium Competition.
The performance started off with the “Fanfare for the Common Band” by Aaron Copland, presented by UMBC Wind Ensemble Brass which introduced Diaz’s initial performance alongside his piano accompanist, Daniel Pesca. As UMBC’s Assistant Piano Professor, Pesca says, “I never heard a musician with such fluency in the high registers.” In Diaz’s solo piece, “Carmen Fantasy” by George Bizet, he had a huge number of notes in the higher register that he executed not only with accuracy but with feeling and emotion. As most euphonium players can attest, this is extremely hard to do without squeaking or hitting a wrong note. In the particularly frantic parts of the song, he made sure to keep his notes clean and express his own interpretation of Bizet.
The next portion was a quintet featuring Diaz, Patrick Crossland on the trombone, David Lomotey on tuba, and Brian Kaufman on tuba. Brian Kaufman is the conductor and educator of the UMBC Wind Ensemble. He says that “It was so much fun to play with him, he is an incredible, high-caliber musician, and it was inspiring to get to sit next to him, and my impression was my students felt the same was as well.” Their piece was “Fugue in G minor” by Johann Sebastian Bach, an impressive piece harmonizing the euphonium and the trombone while keeping the delicate bass parts alive with two tubas.
The night ends with performances of the UMBC Wind Ensemble, and then together with Hiram. The Wind Ensemble Brass’ “Baltazar — A King’s Journey” by Anthony DiLorenzo was regal and mysterious: the song told a story about a king and his adventures. The swells and the tones, along with the repeating melody near the ending of “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” gave such a somber yet kingly tone to this song. The finale consisted of Diaz being accompanied by the Wind Ensemble Brass, with the beautiful song “Believe Me If All Those Endearing Young Charms” by Somone Mantia, a beautiful song that clearly displayed Diaz’s ability to solo, along with the band’s ability to play around a soloist whilst keeping the harmonies and ongoing melodies at bay.
Diaz’s fingers work like clockwork with his embouchure, clicking only four simple keys to create wonderful music that will sway your very soul. The control that is shown with his ability to move across registers effortlessly shows real effort and practice put into his instrument. The Brass Bash performance displayed the true musical passion and energy that every musician shared with the audience. “I want to share my music; that’s all what music is for. Music is for sharing,” he says.
Photo Credit: Photo by Yeeun Kim.