Monday, March 21, 2016

LA Philharmonic Brass

In case you missed it, the brass from the LA Phil played a great rendition of Copland's Fanfare for the Common Man on The Late Show. I was so excited to see this on a national stage and have it (hopefully) reach an audience not accustomed to this music. The piece was a great choice too. A very exciting and accessible fanfare that the layman would enjoy.

It is not a small feat that this was live on national television, and the performance was fantastic.


There are several players that I assume are substitutes and are not listed in the personell of the LAPhil.

Dallas Symphony Brass Quintet

This is a group of players from the Dallas Sympony Orchestra, one of my favorite groups.

I think this video touches on some very important things about chamber music and showcases it's importance especially for symhpony players. Kevin Finamore talks about the challenge and value of chamber music to symphony musicians.

In a nice change of pace for this blog, this is a really high quality video with some very artistic cinematography and great sound quality. Having been at this for a little while now, the differences in style of the groups I've covered is becoming more and more apparent and I particularly like the sound and style of this ensemble. Their versatility is also noteworthy. I've listed the musicians below.

Ryan Anthony and Kevin Finamore, trumpet
Greg Hustis, horn
John Kitzman, trombone
Matt Good, tuba

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Philadelphia Orchestra Brass

I just dug up this great video from 1969 (the Ormandy days!) with the Philadelphia Orchestra Brass. The members are listed below.

Although the quality of the video is lacking, I really enjoy this peek into the past. I like especially Gil Johnson trying to "concisely" explain the intricacies of a fugue to a television audience. Even with the quality of the video, you hear the unification in sound and time with these orchestral players. This is a similar ensemble to the Pittsburgh Brass in my last post. I quite like the added tenor/bass voice.

Gil Johnson and Seymore Rosenthal, trumpets
Nolan Miller, horn
Dee Stuart, trombone
Tyrone Breuninger, euphonium
Abe Torchinsky, tuba

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Pershing's Own Trumpet Ensemble

A little change of pace. This is an ensemble of trumpets from Pershing's Own Army Band, one of the only professional concert bands in the country.

My favorite part about this video is the range of timbre achieved by an entirely homogenous ensemble. I'll admit that I was skeptical when I first saw this video in my search. A trumpet ensemble to me bespeaks a lack of range and color and, frankly, lots and lots of loud playing. Which is why I was so pleasantly surprised with this performance. I think what really sold me was the restraint in the sound of the ensemble. With a piece as delicate and beautiful as this, it takes a great deal of skill to treat it properly, and I think this ensemble more than achieved this. So much so, that I found myself not even missing the lower range usually critical to a chorale. The color and finesse of this ensemble is phenomenal, and I will gladly eat my words.

Here are some other great videos from the same performance:
Dürrenhorn Passage
Gershwin Medley
Vivaldi Concerto 

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Pittsburgh Symphony Brass

Here's a live video of the Pittsburgh Symphony Brass playing some wonderfully balanced and stylistic contrapunctal music. All the players are members of the Pittsburgh Symphony and I've listed them by instrument below with links to their bios.

This group recorded an album in 1998 that includes Bach's collection known as "The Art of the Fugue." The album by the same title is yet another testament to the quality of orchestral brass. The balance of ensemble, interactive and sensitive playing, huge range of dynamics, timbre, and articulation are all hallmarks of great orchestral playing, and the effect that has on an ensemble like this is significant.

I also wanted to mention how much I like the addition of the bass trombone to make the group a sextet. The extra bass/tenor voice adds a certain richness to the group.


Horn William Caballero
Trumpets-George Vosburgh and Neil Bernsten
Tenor Trombone-Peter Sullivan
Bass Trombone-Murray Crewe
Tuba-Craig Knox

Sunday, March 6, 2016

This is a great video from two years ago that combines two of my favorite things: brass, and baseball. The St. Louis Cardinals (best team in the MLB) were taking on the Boston Red Sox (...) in the NLCS and the orchestras of the respective cities decided to get in on the rivalry.

This is a great demonstration of not only fantastic playing, but the fun and joy that comes from collaboration. Karin Bliznik is one of the most impressive trumpet players in the world today and I can say from personal experience that her sound is so intense and focussed that it's like a laser beam slicing through the orchestra. (See Alpine Sinfonie). I love to see someone that impressive and serious do something like this. We as musicians sometimes see our idols as so far beyond ourselves that it makes them unrealistic. This sort of thing humanizes the players we so admire and, I think, makes them in turn much more accessible. Enjoy!