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Opinion

River Falls Brass to perform exciting recital

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November 14, 2013

River Falls Brass
River Falls Brass includes music faculty members Thomas Barnett and Craig Hara, trumpets; Richard Gaynor, trombone; and new members, Melissa Morey, horn, and Gary Bird, tuba. (Photo by University Communications)

This Sunday marks a new beginning for the River Falls Brass.

It will be performing its first recital ever as a quintet. I sat down to speak with the group recently, and they said this is a big deal to them, and they hope to see a packed audience.

The band have a full program planned, and the repertoire ranges from slow chorales to fast-paced dance music. The quintet is comprised of UW-River Falls music faculty. There are two trumpet players, one trombone player, one French horn player and one tuba player, the latter two having joined just this year. This concert has something for everyone, so surely it is one you will not want to miss.

The River Falls Brass originally began 12 years ago, in the fall of 2001. For many years, the members performed as a trio on campus and around the community. This year, they were excited to welcome two new players to make a quintet: a French horn player and a tuba player.

The band has already performed several times together around the community, though this will be their first formal recital here on campus. While they enjoy performing, the group’s main mission as an ensemble is to recruit young people into the music program. To do this, it frequently goes to schools and teach master classes.

The ensemble has also enjoyed their role here on campus. Nearly every semester since the quintet formed, it has played at the commencement ceremonies. The members’ favorite part about doing this is not the music they play, but being able to see their own students walk across the stage and witness how they have grown throughout their years at UWRF. It is an honor that they were the ones to help guide them and get them to that point of success.

During my time with them, the group was more than eager to let me look over each of their pieces and explain the uniqueness of each of them. They will open up their recital with a piece called “Dance” by Wilke Renwick. This is an appropriate piece to open up with, as it has a march-like feel. It is a virtuoso opening and fanfare with mixed meters.

The quintet then move on to a more in-depth piece, “Four Movements for Five Brass” by Collier Jones. This piece also features a constant shift in meter and keeps everyone engaged, players and audience alike. It also has variations of traditional dance styles. While unusual, it is still easy to listen to. The movements include introduction and dance, a fanfare, pretensions, a movement that adds random beats, Waltz, a piece that switches from the typical waltz meter of 3/4 to 2/4 and Allegro, which is the finale.

Their next piece is entitled “Ein Feste Burg,” or “A Mighty Fortress,” by prominent Reformation figure Martin Luther. It has a familiar melody and is being played in honor of the Year of Germany. Its melody is turned into a canzona, or imitation. The ensemble described the piece as a “fantasy.”

“Ein Feste Burg” is followed by “Music Hall Suite” by Joseph Horovitz. It has five movements, “Soubrette Song,” “Trick-Cyclists,” “Adagio-Team,” “Soft Shoe Shuffle” and “Les Girls.” The piece is a revival of a 1920s Vaudeville review. The band then moves into “Strawberry Prelude” by Magnus Hylander, a simple piece about strawberry picking in the summer.

The penultimate piece switches gears a bit. “Chorale Prelude for Brass Quintet” by J.S. Bach is a slower piece originally written for Baroque organ. “Petite Suite for Brass Quintet” by Gregory Fritze will conclude their recital. Their main reason for finishing with this piece is to honor Fritze, who was in-residence with the music department last month. The piece has four movements, “Strombor,” “Cancion,” “Attack of the Killer Bees,” (they were quick to inform me that they defeat the bees), and “Finale.” It is a strong piece to conclude the recital with.

The River Falls Brass promises to make this a recital you will not want to miss. It shares a great love for the music they play and performing for audiences. The members blend well together, producing a vivid sound color, and the pieces are all engaging and full of energy. Their recital is at 7:30 p.m., on Sunday, Nov. 17, in Abbott Concert Hall.

Cristin Dempsey is an English major and music minor from Eagan, Minn. She enjoys writing, playing the flute and swimming. After college she would like to pursue a career as an editor.