My brass duo has been and will be on hiatus for a while. We’ve been making use of this “down time” by composing for ourselves, listening, learning and networking.
On Friday March 31st Emmy and I paid a visit to Schwan Hall, on the campus of Wisconsin Lutheran College, Milwaukee. We were there to see the Alliance Brass quintet, a Chicago-based ensemble. Despite the Brewers/Cubs rivalry jokes, it was an enchanting night of music – even amidst the thunderous weather (and applause, of course).
The quintet performed a lively show themed “Stage and Screen.” The first half focused on Broadway music, the second on movie scores. We were treated to selections from The Music Man (including an entertaining analysis of the lyrics of 76 Trombones, given by trombonist Steven Duncan), West Side Story, The Wizard of Oz (tuba solo feature, James Langenberg on Over the Rainbow) and every brass player’s gateway movie score: Star Wars.
The spaghetti western-style duel of the trumpets in the second half was fantastic… Playful and engaging much less impressive, musically and visually (Amy Nelson and Chris O’Hara). There were a couple pieces outside of the theme – although, arguably, there is now that Bohemian Rhapsody biopic of Freddy Mercury – that gave us something a little unexpected (and for me, that was a favorite… Their horn star Kelly Langenberg was the feature).
Most arrangements performed were written specifically for Alliance Brass, by trumpet player Chris O’Hara. LOVED the encore, When the Saints – very sassy and “down and dirty Dixieland” feeling. It was refreshing to hear a brass ensemble perform a version that is not written by the Canadian Brass… IMHO!
Each performer was available to talk with and swoon over at intermission as well as following the event. We surely did just that… The crowd along with us did the same. I’m so grateful to have been present for that incredible concert. I’m looking forward to following Alliance Brass… Wishing them all the best.