23 May, 2021

Innovatrombone interviews Ryan Polk, winner of modality 3A


From Innovatrombone we are delighted to share with all of you the interview we have conducted with the winner of our 1st Online contest in mode 3A (for bass trombonists from 19 to 24 years old)

Ryan Polk

Innovatrombone: Hi Ryan, first of all congratulations on your first prize in the contest. We are delighted to be able to conduct this interview with you.

Ryan Polk: Thank you so much! It’s been an awesome experience!

Innovatrombone: Tell us, where are you from?

Ryan Polk: . I´m from Madison (Wisconsin) US. I am currently studying in Florida, U.S., but have moved around the states quite a bit in my youth.

Innovatrombone: How did you start playing the trombone?

Ryan Polk: My elementary school began people on “band” instruments in the 4th grade. I was excited to play an instrument but wasn’t sure if I wanted to play trumpet or trombone. My mother heard that they were offering to let people play trombone for free so she made me pick that one! Luckily it worked out and now I am here over a decade later!

Innovatrombone: Who have been your teachers?

Ryan Polk: I give a lot of credit to my high school band director PL Malcolm for his role in cultivating my appreciation for music and my philosophies as a person. My only serious teacher on trombone has been Dr. Luis Fred, who has been my applied professor at UCF for the last four years.

Luis Fred

Innovatrombone: Do you have a favorite trombonist?

Ryan Polk: There are so many incredible trombone players and I don’t know if I have ever had just one favorite. When I was younger I worshipped Charlie Vernon, but as I’ve gotten older and been exposed to more players I have grown an appreciation for many more such as James Markey, Brian Hecht, Jeremy Wilson, and Michael Mulcahey. Currently I have been listening to a lot of Tomer Maschkowski, who’s phrasing I find absolutely beautiful.

Innovatrombone: Tell us about the trombone and the mouthpiece you use?

Ryan Polk: I play on a Schires Blair Bollinger model bass trombone with a rose tuning slide and a Griego Taylor 1 mouthpiece that I picked up while at the Festival Trombones de Costa Rica in 2019.

Fresno Orchestral Summer Academy 2018

Innovatrombone: In the future, where would you like to study and with whom?

Ryan Polk: Just like my favorite trombonists, there are tons of players I would love to study with. Hearing as many opinions as possible gives a well rounded perspective on approaches and interpretations. However, I can say that I will be studying at the Royal College of Music in London under the tutelage of James Buckle for the next two years.

OSWON Trombone Quartet

Innovatrombone: Tell us about your experience in the contest?

Ryan Polk: Truthfully I was pretty lucky to get knowledge of the contest. My applied professor, Dr. Fred, was brought on as a judge for a different category of the competition and recommended that I throw my hat in the ring. However, he mentioned this to me three days before the first round was due! Luckily I had prepared the piece for the first round extensively prior to the competition, so managed to dust it off in two days and record it on the third! The second round was tougher to prepare. This was my first time tackling a modern spanish piece so I started by trying to get as much knowledge of the styles and techniques asked for such as Curruláo dance/rhythms. In my preparation I tried to make sure I was staying as honest to these stylistic markings as possible. Having Dr. Fred and a number of other spanish trombone players that I could talk to were pivotal to preparing something technically challenging as musically as possible, with choices and colors that were honest to the culture and intent of the composer. It was a surprisingly rewarding experience to fairly quickly prepare a piece that was so foreign to my training and I am very happy I have this experience to draw on for future projects!

UCF Symphony Orchestra

Innovatrombone: Would you recommend the contest to other trombonists?

Ryan Polk: Absolutely. I really believe that the fastest way to improve is to take every opportunity to play for people you can, while this competition was done by video submission this year, it still featured a deep panel of very talented adjudicators.

Innovatrombone: Thank you very much for everything Ryan, we wish you the best in life and many successes!

Ryan Polk: Of course, thank you again for the opportunities and best of luck to future applicants!

Innovatrombone: And so far the interview with the winner of the first Innovatrombone online interpretation contest.

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