(Left to right) Sidney Schuler poses with Aaron, Avis and Ronald Romm. The Chase photo: Amanda Brown
Seats in Buchanan Hall filled Friday, Jan. 24 as students, faculty and locals gathered to experience the renowned Romm Trio live in concert.
The trio is a two-trumpet, one piano ensemble made up of Ronald and Avis Romm and their son, Aaron. Ronald Romm was among the founding members of the celebrated Canadian Brass ensemble, where he toured the world for over 30 years as a performing musician with the group. He currently holds the position of Professor of Trumpet at The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
The man responsible for bringing the talented musicians to Eastern New Mexico University, Sidney Shuler, Assistant Professor of Trumpet and Assistant Director of Bands at ENMU, studied under Ronald Romm at UIUC.
ENMU music majors were the first to arrive Friday night for the program. Herman Montoya and Haley Brown were among these students. Montoya, a senior at ENMU double majoring in music education and music performance shared what the experience meant to him. “For us being in such a small town, we don’t really get to witness stuff like this,” he said. “they perform in, like, New York and really big places, so for them to come down here is amazing.” He mentioned that seeing this at ENMU, makes him realize that the little colleges matter. Montoya went on to explain that the music department has similar programs coming up. “There’s going to be more concerts like this [throughout] the rest of the semester and I encourage everyone on campus to come listen to stuff like this,” Montoya said. “People pay to see them in concert, and we get to see it for free, so it’s just amazing to have that opportunity.”
Haley Brown, a senior at ENMU majoring in music education, explained why she was looking forward to the event. “We have so many awesome people that come through and being able to witness these performances I think just kind of strengthens my passion for music and makes me want to keep going,” Brown said. “You know, being in college can be kind of rough, and so there’s some days where I feel like I don’t want to be here, but then getting to witness that and be a part of that is really eye opening again and then I think ‘wow, no, this is something amazing, and I want to do this.’” Brown also encouraged fellow students to take advantage of the opportunity to view these live, on-campus concerts. “Even if you’re not into classical music, you know, it’s still a great experience.”
Betty Williamson, a lifelong resident of Roosevelt County who does contract work for Eastern New Mexico News, was also in attendance. Williamson learned about the event through her work for the newspaper. She does the calendars for the newspaper and is always looking for events; she added the concert to the papers calendar a couple weeks ago. “I hadn’t heard of them before and I Googled them, and I just thought, ‘how are we getting somebody this good here?’ I was so amazed.”
The performance was more than just music, as each of the performers interacted with the attendees, incorporated humor, gave background on many of the compositions and even created
an elevated sense of drama by incorporating some costumes into the show. At the midpoint of the program, the musicians took questions from the attentive audience, answering questions ranging from the make of their instruments, to any advice they had for aspiring musicians. In a special moment at the end, Shuler joined the trio to perform the last song. Upon it’s conclusion, every attendee was on their feet applauding.
Tyleen Caffrey, a teacher in the ENMU social work department, had a special appreciation for the concert as she herself is a trumpet player. “For a trumpeter to be able to see one of the founding members of Canadian brass…a very legendary group, is phenomenal.” Caffrey, a former music major, commented on the significance of a group like the Romm Trio performing at ENMU. “Coming from a bigger city I was more exposed to professional trumpeters and able to go to concerts where there’s bigger names, but Eastern does such a great job.” She said that the music department at ENMU especially does a great job at bringing big names to the area. “And sometimes I don’t know that the students really get a full grasp until after it happens and then there’s kind of an ‘oh-my-gosh’ moment once they learn who this person is and where they studied.” She said being able to bring the professional players in is important for the students to learn and grow.
Shuler was responsible for coordinating the event. Shuler was sure to recognize and thank the many helping hands involved, and gave a special thanks to Dustin Seifert, chair of the department of music and director of bands at ENMU, for his encouragement. “Anyone who thinks they do it on their own is foolish,” said Shuler.
Ronald Romm shared his thoughts on the importance of experiencing a live performance. “I think that live performances give you the actual essence of the energy that you are exchanging and when you hear a live performance, by being in the room with it, it elevates your mood, it elevates your understanding, it helps your brain to synchronize the hemispheres,” he said.
Aaron Romm gave a bit of advice and insight to aspiring musicians. “Enjoy it and remember why you started. Because there will be times when we forget, or things get overwhelming. But, remember what we are doing onstage is sharing something. And someone did that for us at some point, and we have to be sharing that with other people. Give it back in some way,” he said.
In a sweet moment after the concert, Avis Romm explained how it felt being able to perform with her family. “I don’t think there’s anything more special. To have been playing for years with Ronnie has always been incredibly special and heartwarming, but then having our son with us… playing with him is like feeling your own heartbeat. So, it’s just the best.”