Play trombone, will travel

By Greg Gelpi

He just liked the slide, and now he's heading to Budapest.

Brandon Tucker of Morrow and a delegation from Clayton College & State University will perform at the Franz Liszt Academy in Budapest, Hungary, an exchange program established between the two.

Twenty-one-year-old Tucker picked up the trombone in the fifth grade as many do at that age, because of the slide on the instrument and the sound associated with it, he said. Reflecting on his first solo performance at that age, he said he never would have thought he'd be playing at such a venue as the Liszt Academy.

"I guess you can credit it to my music program in school," he said of his "passion" for music.

Gently shifting his weight and delicately shuffling his feet, he performed Sonata for Trombone and Piano. Tucker will perform the same Eric Ewazen piece next week in Budapest.

Leaning into the music, his eyes focused on the sheet music and his eyebrows revealed his emotions.

When Tucker plays, he thinks of how to articulate the sound, interpret the music and add his own "voice" to the piece.

Also a member of Clayton State's Jazz Combo, Tucker described his playing as a "bright sound," more of a jazz sound.

Performing with Tucker will be Elena Cholakova and Patrick Thompson. Accompanying them on the trip will be Clayton State President Thomas Harden and music professor Maya Hoover.

"It's a matter of extending to the international music community and working with our colleagues abroad," Hoover said.

Often, college students are "so focused to plow through their degree" that they don't seize opportunities to enhance their education outside of the classroom, she said. The chance to perform at the Liszt Academy, though, is a chance to do just that.

"The Liszt Academy is absolutely world-renowned," Hoover said.

For a university in Morrow to partner with an academy in Budapest is "quite an honor," she said.

"I think it's a good statement about Clayton State," Harden said. "For one thing, it's a great opportunity for our students to go to another country and experience another culture. As an institution, it fits in line with what we're trying to do."

Clayton State recently established the Office of International Education, an office that assists the university's international students and helps send students and faculty abroad to study, Harden said.

Harden and other Clayton State officials went to Central Europe a year ago to form the bond between the university and the world-class academy.

"Those are the kinds of things we're trying to develop - relationships with other universities in other countries," he said.

The international bond is part of the president's larger vision to create an international university, increase cultural exchange and provide more opportunities for his students.

The Clayton students will perform at the home of George H. Walker, the American ambassador to Hungary, Tuesday and

at the Liszt Academy Thursday.

If you know an interesting person who should be profiled, send us the name and some information and we will consider featuring that person in a coming Friday. E-mail to bpaslay@news-daily.com