UGA School of Music faculty member wins tuba-euphonium composition award

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John Hennecken, instructor at the UGA Hugh Hodgson School of Music, won a Harvey G. Phillips Award for Excellence in Composition at the International Tuba Euphonium Conference in Knoxville, Tenn., on June 2.

Hennecken’s work, “Sonata for Euphonium and Piano,” won in the “euphonium in a solo role” category. Hennecken described the piece as “an abstract drama in three movements.”

“I set out to write the best work I could imagine for the euphonium, and I feel vindicated and honored to receive this award from the tuba-euphonium community,” said Hennecken.

Hennecken, a DMA graduate of the School of Music who studied under Adrian P. Childs and Leonard V. Ball Jr., described the victory as a “great team win for the University of Georgia,” with UGA faculty, staff and alumni contributing to the award-winning recording from its inception onward.

Originally commissioned by a consortium of euphonium players led by UGA alumni Chris Leslie, now with the West Point Band, and Cale Self, a professor at the University of West Georgia, the sonata was recorded with Leslie on euphonium and UGA alumnus Greg Hankins on piano. 

“Chris delivered the virtuosic euphonium part, which requires tremendous flexibility, multiple tonguing, stamina, and beautiful lyricism,” said Hennecken. “Greg executed the piano part, which demands great technical skill, power, and delicate cantabile style.”

Further contributions to the recording came from David Zerkel, the School of Music’s professor of tuba and euphonium, who Hennecken credited with managing the recording process and “foster[ing] the dynamic chemistry on stage” and UGA alumnus Chris Gurtcheff, the School of Music’s performance media specialist, who served as recording engineer for the project.

Hennecken’s work was published by Potenza Music, and the recording will soon be availably commercially.

Photo: Greg Hankins, Chris Leslie and John Hennecken