Dancers Emily Noe and Laura Prada Highlighted at Free Winter Solstice Concert: Sunday at 6:00 pm on 14 December 2014 at Trinity Cathedral Miamiimages

Emily Noe’s lithe, small frame bounds on to the floor, blonde locks tightly ligatured. As she images-1rehearses Astor Piazolla’s Oblivion in a setting by DUO WINDS tm her frame becomes taught and expands to claim vertical space. As her body gracefully undulates, limbs gesture in to imply the geometric ownership of varied planes of space from within her original stance. The music climaxes, and her feet move quickly and exponentially seize horizontal space in tantalizing rhythms. Before the Solstice brings the waxing daylight, it must face the longest night-an oblivion captured on her small frame by the firey and complex synapses of acclaimed choreographer Emily Noe. See the premiere of her new work “Oblivion” set to the music of Argentinian sensation Astor Piazolla.

Laura PradaThe rain descends before the sprout may begin its ascent, and the seed must be covered in complete darkness before it begins it’s ascent to the light. A young woman slumbers and her blanket, once at rest, now glistens opalescent in the captured sunlight of dawn. Awakenings of both plant and girl will be represented by the music of Oboist Erin Gitelssohn in her hypnotic interpretation of Felix Mendelssohn’s Adagio and dancer Laura Prada’s youthfully rhapsodic choreography to “X-Salada #001-Chancha Via Circuito”.


Trinity Episcopal Cathedral is located at North Bayshore Drive and the Venetian Causeway in Miami, next to the Marriott Hotel and across North Bayshore Drive from the Omni / Hilton Hotel complex. It is also conveniently located one-half block from the Omni Metro Mover and Bus Station.

Trinity Cathedral / 464 NE 16th Street, Miami, Florida 33132

Phone: (305) 374-3372

From the South, take I-95 and exit onto I-395 (SR 836) East towards Miami Beach. Take the Biscayne Boulevard/NE 2ndAvenue Exit and turn left (North) onto Biscayne Boulevard (US 1). Go to NE 15th Street and turn right and go one block to North Bayshore Drive and turn left. The Cathedral is on the right between NE 15th and NE 16th Streets, just before the Marriott Hotel.

From the North , take I-95 and exit onto I-195 (SR 112) East towards Miami Beach. Take the Biscayne Boulevard Exit and turn LEFT onto Biscayne Boulevard (US 1). Proceed South to NE 15th Street, turn left and go one block to North Bayshore Drive and turn left. The Cathedral is on the right between NE 15th and NE 16th Streets, just before the Marriott Hotel.

Parking is available behind the building and may be accessed from either NE 15th Street or NE 16th Street. Additional parking is available at the Omni Garage (across the street) for a charge and metered spaces are available on NE 16th Street. Reduced rate parking is available in the Omni Garage for services on Sundays and at most major events at the Cathedral.


c. 2014 David William Brubeck All Rights Reserved

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Aaron McCalla Shows “THE FOURTH VALVE” tm True Versatility with the Naples Phil.

The Naples Philharmonic does it all: from concert orchestral music to accompanying the Miami City Ballet when in Naples to pops and chamber music. Their tubist, Aaron McCalla, goes even further as a featured soloist, recitalist, rock musician, and solo tuba in the virtuoso Brass Miami. McCallastudied at Southern Methodist University, the Juilliard School and the New England Conservatory and has held the position of principal tuba for the Colorado (Denver) Symphony Orchestra. His occasional performances include the New York Philharmonic, the Boston, Albany, Vermont, Rhode Island, Jacksonville symphonies and the Boston Pops. In addition to his orchestral duties, McCalla is a member of the band LNE and performs to packed houses throughout Central America.From Tanglewood to funk, McCalla has a the appropriate bass line, and is delighted to host him in “The Fourth Valve” tm.


1. Breathing is key to wind instruments, none more so than the tuba. Can you discuss your journey of awakening with regards to breathing. What did your teachers emphasize, and what have you discovered on your own?

Breathing is absolutely key. I have to be honest though, I have never thought too much about it outside of making sure that I am being efficient. My first teacher in college, Matt Good, was probably my biggest influence. Until I met him, I didn’t know that there are many different types of breaths you have to master. Every breath is different but has to be as efficient as any other. I have always loved sports and running. I feel like the breathing required for sprinting or swimming is not exactly like that required for tuba playing, but it helps tuba in every way in that it requires you to be able to pull in maximum volume of air. When swimming laps, I am not analyzing my breathing, I am only thinking, “I need a breath!” So, when it comes to tuba I just try to take as much in as I would in sports but in a relaxed and musically appropriate way. In the end, I try to not paralyze myself with over analysis of something I have been doing since birth.

2. How do you achieve a more musical expression?
When I play, I am always singing in my head. Not only does this make me feel like I have a better voice than I do, but it becomes somewhat of a collaboration. It is me accompanying and trying to copy the singing voice that I hear. In addition to this, I am always trying new ways of playing the same thing. Many times, the way I practice a phrase is not recognizable to the final product, but without experimentation and failures, I find it hard to really know what I like and want to say musically.

3. Who are you inspirations?

I have been so lucky to have great mentors in my life. Musically, Matt Good of the Dallas Symphony, Warren Deck, and Mike Roylance were my teachers but they all played a much bigger role. With Matt, it was his no nonsense approach that taught me to practice the right way and what the road ahead was really like. With Warren, it was just so special to be in the presence of an absolute master of life. It is impossible to be around him and not learn something, whether it is about tuba or whatever else was being discussed. With Mike, it was learning how to be a better professional and also being in the presence of a man who was at the top of his game all of the time. All three of them not only inspired me musically but also non musically.

My biggest non-musical inspirations were my parents. They taught me you really can and should give unconditional support to your loved ones while they are chasing their dreams, on the condition they are working as hard as possible. It’s probably not most parents favorite thing to hear you might not be going into the medical field and are going to chase after a dream with less prospect of employment than an NFL quarterback and infinitely less income. How can one not be inspired by this love and support?

The Philharmonic in Naples is a special place. Please describe your job. How do you switch hats so seamlessly?
I love the Naples Philharmonic! It is indeed a very special place that I had not really heard of before I took the audition 10 years ago. One of my favorite things about it is the varied schedule. We go from masterworks to ballet to opera to quintet to children’s shows to pops. I think this variance keeps my mind engaged more than if I were in an orchestra that played mainly the classics. For me it is a dream to have a job where I get to do all of those things in one place. What makes it so easy to switch between them is the people I work with. They are world class individuals, musicians and colleagues. When everyone is that way, all you have to do is show up prepared and things work themselves out quickly.

Tropical-Baroque-2014What was your warm-up like during college as opposed to now? Is there a big picture that you try to keep in mind?
In early college I had less of a routine than I did later. Early on, it was a little bit disorganized, but when I met Mike Roylance, things changed. He had a full routine that covers all the elements of playing that need to be practiced every day. I still do it in some form or another now. I know that if I can get through it and play it well, I am still in shape enough for anything I will see on a page.

6. What are your thoughts on each, and when do you use them?

F Tuba
I generally take my F tuba into quintet or solo situations. In orchestra, I use it whenever it makes the job easier! Ha. It’s very true, that I think of my instruments like a carpenter does tools. You use the correct tool that does the job best and easiest.

Eb Tuba
I have an old, Holton Eb that needs a lot of work done to be playable. One day I would love to bring it into quintet because I think it would add the breadth of tone that F sometimes lacks.

C Tuba
My C tuba is my main instrument. It does find its way into quintet, but is mostly my go to orchestral horn due to it’s 6/4 size. It’s also my daily routine tuba. If I can achieve what I want on C tuba, it’s even easier on F.

Bb Tuba
I have not played much Bb since high school. I think they are hard to beat when giving a band or orchestra a solid bass, but my training and teachers showed me the ways of the C tuba and they are expensive so I needed to choose one or the other!

Tuba “out-of-the-box”. Which unusual places have you heard or the tuba that are unexpected but good? What have you imagined?
My favorite out of the box place to play tuba was in my old rock bands, LNE and the Kate Priestly Band. We had no electric bass, only tuba, so it was up to me to keep up with the drummer and lay down the grooves. I am biased, but I love the accoustic sound of a tuba on bass lines in a band. The best thing about it was I never felt the need to practice while with the band. 3 sets of constant bass line a night is all you need!

8. What is the best tuba playing you have ever heard?
This is a hard one. I heard Sam Pilafian years back in a Traveling Light show that was mind blowing. Recently I heard Oystein Baadsvik live for the first time. He is just unreal. But, really, the best day in day out playing was from my teachers Matt, Warren and Mike. The chance to be one on one with these masters and hear them demonstrate things exactly as you wish you could play them is special. I felt selfish that it was just me as their audience. Matt has the warmest tone ever. Warren could fill a room of any size and Mike could do absolutely anything.

What is the best tuba playing you have ever done?
This is probably the hardest question. In general terms it is when I have performed a show and feel like I have made it easier for my colleagues to shine by giving them a solid foundation to sit on. In the end, I hope I haven’t peaked!

10. How do you balance your musical and non-musical life?

I am lucky because for me, this is easy. I never feel like I am balancing the two. They just fit seamlessly together. I love the feeling of being on a team. So even outside of the orchestra I play in a soccer league. I have great friends at and away from the orchestra, so I never feel like I am just one thing or another. Being a husband, father, son, performer, etc. is such a fun combination. When it comes to getting the work I need to get done on tuba, it helps to have an amazing wife who not only tolerates tuba practicing but enjoys it. It all comes down to never feeling like I have a job that I have to trudge to. I really enjoy the variety that life presents and never take anything too seriously.

c. 2014 David William Brubeck All Rights Reserved.

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HAPPY THANKSGIVING! “In Principio Erat Sonus”, Free Music for Bass Trombone and Electric Guitar

What better way to celebrate Thanksgiving than with free bass trombone music?

In case you missed last year’s arrangement of “Jingle Bells” for solo bass trombone, this is you chance to catch up! Read more…

BonacossaThis Thanksgiving we are delighted to present “In Principio Erat Sonus” by Federico Bonacossa. This new work for bass trombone and electric guitar was premiered by DUO BRUBECK and dedicated to its founding members-David Brubeck and Tom Lippincott on November 6th, 2014. Read more about the exciting composer, guitarist and member of The Miami Guitar Trio here…

Thanks to the generosity of Mr. Bonacossa, we are able to offer it free on the web. Enjoy!

















This Article c. 2014 David W. Brubeck All Rights Reserved

“In Principio Erat Sonus” c. Federico Bonacossa 2014 All Rights Reserved

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Unbelievable! DUO BRUBECK, Featuring Tom Lippincott hosts DUO BRUBECK featuring Mitch Farber AGAIN!




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World Premiere of Ney Rosauro’s “A Postcard from Rio”, DUO WINDS (trOmBOnE)tm Debuts, and The Arts Abound at Music In Miami Winter Solstice Celebration Concert!

Ismael Gomez-PeraltaThe coming of light, and darkness. Silence, and the song of birds; music. Cold and warmth, and the joining of hemispheres; all revolve around the solstice and the rotation of the earth. Come and celebrate the season of light as Music in Miami hosts the third annual Winter Solstice Celebration at Trinity Cathedral Miami on Sunday, 14 December at 6:00 pm.

Erin Gittelsohn Black & WhiteJoin outstanding South Florida oboist, Dr. Erin Gittelsohn and bass trombonist David Brubeck as they join forces to create DUO WINDS tm and present the world premiere of prominent Brazillian composer and percussionist Ney Rosauro’s new composition entitled “A Postcard from Rio”. This exciting musical voyage re-imagines the complimentary and enticing timbres of oboe and bass trombone as Brazillian percussion instruments, and infuses South American rhythms throughout the shifting meters, grooves, and tempos.

Joined by renowned pianist Bronwen Rutter, the trio will explore Astor Piazzola’s “Oblivion”, and mark the solstice with treasures from Chopin, Mendelssohn, Marcello, and Vivaldi.

Justo Gimeranez "Zum Zum II"  Oil on Canvas 46" x 39 " 2011

This marks the third Winter Solstice celebration of the Music in Miami Concert Series at the historic and resplendent Trinity Cathedral. The opulent acoustic and visual space will host the works of dancer and choreographer Laura Prada, caroling brass, special musical guests and more than 10 artworks from the Miami-Based artist collective “Grupo Our Barrio”, led by Ismael Gomez-Peralta. These refreshing artworks will adorn the side aisles of the historic cathedral and accentuate the cosmopolitan joining of hemispheres that is Miami.The Others 1 Aimee

Gittelsohn is principal oboist of the Miami City Ballet Orchestra, a graduate of the Eastman School of Music and former soloist with the United States Air Force Band in Washington, DC. DUO WINDS celebrates the wind duo as a solo and chamber medium with piano within the tradition of the violin, cello and piano trio. “Postcard from Rio” is dedicated to DUO WINDS tm.

c. 2014 David William Brubeck All Rights Reserved

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THANKSGIVING FEAST OF GUITARS! DUO BRUBECK, Featuring Tom Lippincott to be Joined by Mitch Farber

DUO BRUBECK SGT PEPPER 1DUO BRUBECK, featuring Tom Lippincott, will light up the Shark Tank (Just in front of the Kendall Koffee House) on the Kendall Campus of Miami Dade College at 7:00 p.m. on Thursday 20 November 2014. Set amidst the beautiful live oak trees bejewelled with orchids and surrounded by the sunset songs of birds, this MDC Jazz Faculty concert will feature master guitarists Tom Lippincott-(winner of the Guitar Player Magazine “Ultimate Guitarist Contest”), and hard-driving guitar phenomenon Mitch Farber alternating in the DUO BRUBECK setting with bass trombonist David William Brubeck.

Music of the Beatles (including music from Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band), will be presented alongside original duo arrangements of specially selected compositions by Bill Withers, Stevie Wonder, Duke Ellington, Jule Styne, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Burton Lane, Chick Corea, Miles Davis Juan Tizol and George Gershwin in this eagerly anticipated concert event. DUO BRUBECK helped to launch the Distinguished Artist series at the Cleveland Clinic, and the popular duo has performed in concert throughout South Florida. Admission is free!

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World Premiere of “IN PRINCIPIO ERAT SONUS” By DUO BRUBECK, featuring Tom Lippincott

The World Premiere of a new work for bass trombone and electric guitar, “IN PRINCIPIO ERAT SONUS” is scheduled to be premiered by DUO BRUBECK, featuring Tom Lippincott on Thursday 6 November 2014 at 7:00 pm in room 8247 of The Hernandez Center (Building Eight) at Miami Dade College Kendall Campus. Composer Federico Bonacossa has dedicated the five movement original composition to bass trombonist David Brubeck and guitarist Tom Lippincott, founding members of DUO BRUBECK. Other compositions by Lippincott and Brubeck will be featured on the program of Faculty Composers.

Federico BonacossaFederico Bonacossa is a classical guitarist and composer based in Miami Florida. He studied classical guitar at the Conservatorio Statale G. P. da Palestrina in Italy before moving to the U.S. in 2001. He holds an Master’s Degree for the Peabody Conservatory and a DMA from the University of Miami where he was a teaching assistant. He also holds a Master’s Degree in music composition from Florida International University where he studied acoustic and electronic composition. Recent experiences include performances at the Mainly Mozart Festival (with violinist Eli Matthews), South Dade Cultural Arts Center, Colony Theatre, Bass Museum of Art, USF New Music Festival, Electronic Music Midwest Festival in Kansas City, Contemplum symposium in Philadelphia, Kendall Sound Arts, 12 Nights Electro-acoustic Series, the Miami World Music Festival, the Miami Dade College On Stage Series, the Society of Composers Inc., the Miami International Guitar Festival, Guitar Sarasota, the Miami Bach Society, the State College of Florida, the Scuola Civica di Musica in Olbia, Italy, the Sephardic Jewish Synagogue in Lima, Peru, a live concert for WLRN. He is the company composer for Dance Now Miami and has written multiple original scores for them.

He is adjunct professor at Miami Dade College, Barry University, Florida International University, and the Art Institute of Miami and is a founding member of the Miami Guitar Trio.

For more info visit

c. 2014 David William Brubeck All Rights Reserved

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BRASS DUOS AT ITG CONFERENCE 2015! “Flow My Tears”, for Brass Duo, A Reprint from the ITA Journal

On 27 May 2015 at 11:15 am the brass duo format will be explored at the 2015 International Trumpet Guild Conference at Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio. Anchored by trumpeters Peter Wood, Marc Reese, bass trombonist David Brubeck and a list of all-star trumpet players, the duos of the Brubeck-Neal Duo will be presented in this lecture recital.

Soon to be published by Gordon Cherry as Cherry Classics, this collection of ten concert duos have been arranged performed and refined over the last several seasons by Brian Neal and David Brubeck. Listed below, courtesy of the International Trombone Association, is a reprint of the Brubeck-Neal Duo arrangement of Flow My Tears by composer John Dowland, from the April 2014 ITA Journal. This and Badinerie, published in the Journal of the ITG, are but just two of more than a dozen duos spanning a variety of genres to be featured at the ITG lecture recital on the emerging genre of duo brass.



Here is a brief clip of the Brubeck-Neal Duo in concert as part of the Music in Miami Concert series performing their arrangement of Air on a G String by J. S. Bach.

c. 2014 David William Brubeck All Rights Reserved

This article is a reprint from the April 2014 Journal of the International Trombone Association. Thanks to the Journal and editor Diane Drexler.

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Don Bowyer’s “50+50 Trombone Triathlon”, NEW! FREE MUSIC for Bass Trombone is delighted to continue the tradition of free music for bass trombone with Don Bowyer’s “50 + 50 Triathlon”, for unaccompanied bass trombone, goggles, racing number, and bicycle helmet. Don is a mutlifaceted musician and humanitarian who now makes his home in Arkansas. A gifted bass trombonist, music writer, and educator, Don has graciously allowed us to publish this miniature in three movements. Each movement includes 50 notes for the first 50 years and 50 more, for 50 50 fifty more! Written for Carolyn of her 5oth birthday, and commissioned by Von Graves. Enjoy!

50-50 Trombone Triathlon-1

50-50 Trombone Triathlon 003

BowyerDon Bowyer is Dean of the College of Fine Arts at Arkansas State University, having previously taught at every level from kindergarten through university in the United States, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Sweden. Bowyer received his Doctor of Arts from the University of Northern Colorado, his Master of Arts from California State University at Northridge, and his Bachelor of Arts from West Virginia Wesleyan College.

Active in the fields of composition, music technology, and performance, Bowyer has published more than 60 pieces of music, developed an educational computer program (which has been used in more than 120 countries), and has performed all over the globe. Among numerous performing credits, Bowyer spent five years playing trombone on eleven cruise ships in the Caribbean Sea, the Mediterranean Sea, and the Gulf of Alaska. The first ten didn’t sink; see, for an account of the eleventh!

2013-05-03 Composition List Sheet1

Bowyer and his wife, Donna, have also served as foster parents, having provided a home to eighteen foster children between 2003 and 2010.

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“GUITARZILLA VS. GUITAR KONG” tm, SUNDAY 10-19-14 at 6:00 pm


Trinity Episcopal Cathedral is located at North Bayshore Drive and the Venetian Causeway in Miami, next to the Marriott Hotel and across North Bayshore Drive from the Omni / Hilton Hotel complex. It is also conveniently located one-half block from the Omni Metro Mover and Bus Station.

Trinity Cathedral / 464 NE 16th Street, Miami, Florida 33132

Phone: (305) 374-3372

From the South, take I-95 and exit onto I-395 (SR 836) East towards Miami Beach. Take the Biscayne Boulevard/NE 2ndAvenue Exit and turn left (North) onto Biscayne Boulevard (US 1). Go to NE 15th Street and turn right and go one block to North Bayshore Drive and turn left. The Cathedral is on the right between NE 15th and NE 16th Streets, just before the Marriott Hotel.

From the North , take I-95 and exit onto I-195 (SR 112) East towards Miami Beach. Take the Biscayne Boulevard Exit and turn LEFT onto Biscayne Boulevard (US 1). Proceed South to NE 15th Street, turn left and go one block to North Bayshore Drive and turn left. The Cathedral is on the right between NE 15th and NE 16th Streets, just before the Marriott Hotel.

Parking is available behind the building and may be accessed from either NE 15th Street or NE 16th Street. Additional parking is available at the Omni Garage (across the street) for a charge and metered spaces are available on NE 16th Street. Reduced rate parking is available in the Omni Garage for services on Sundays and at most major events at the Cathedral.


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Seraph Alights Upon “FIVE!” tm Seraph+Brass-5-3567790189-O

Seraph is new. Five young women, extraordinarily well-versed as musicians and artists with solid philosophical underpinnings and chemistry. Their perspectives and hopes are inspiring and their individual accomplishments make the sum total of Seraph beam with promise. and “Five!” is honored to share the nascent flight of Seraph.

Who had the idea for the group?
Katy: Mary came up with the idea for a female brass group about 7 years ago. Between taking auditions, finishing school, winning jobs, and starting families it took a few years to find the right group of players at the right time. Once we did, the vision came together quickly.

How did it come together?
Mary: I wanted a chamber music group where all five members were equal owners of the group and everyone shared the same vision: to make fantastic chamber music and perform at the highest level. Everyone in Seraph contributes equally. I know all of the performers from different parts of my life and called each of them to see if they wanted to start a serious brass group. Katy and I went to Yale at the same time and Zenas and I started performing two seasons ago with the Rodney Marsalis Philadelphia Big Brass.
I met Beth and Ashley more recently-Beth lives not too far from me in Florida and Ashley and I shared a recital at the most recent International Trumpet Guild conference. We performed a duo piece and afterwards Jens Lindemann told us that we sound great together and that we should form a group. All five of us feel a great connection and we love playing music together.

Where is everyone living now? And how did you conquer time and space for rehearsals and recordings?
Katy: Ashley lives in the Midwest, Zenas and I live in the mid-Atlantic, and Beth and Mary live in south Florida. Conquering time and space issues for our debut recording was a labor of love (pun intended). We were limited geographically because Ashley was pregnant. There was no option other than for us to travel to her before the baby was due. Ashley has an extensive personal network and utilized her connections and resources to line up the recording and concert logistics in her town.

Please introduce the band, and talk about their backgrounds. teachers and brass playing philosophies.

-6Ashley: I am originally from Southern Virginia. I started playing the trumpet in the 5th grade and my mom was my first trumpet teacher. I won the Junior High Division of the National Trumpet Competition in the 7th grade, playing a Herbert L. Clarke cornet solo and fell in love with performing for people. I studied with Allen Bachelder in high school and went to the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music where I studied with Alan Siebert, Marie Speziale and Philip Collins. I won a job with the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra just out of undergrad, and continued to pursue solo performing on the side. I experienced some significant chop issues from 2003-2005 and eventually took a leave from the orchestra, moved to Boston, MA where I studied with Steve Emery for two years. During that time I learned not only how to use my air more efficiently, but how not to impinge the vibration of the top lip. After my time in Boston, I continued to pursue this new way of playing the trumpet with ease and freedom. I won the principal trumpet job with the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra, and resumed my position with the Dayton Philharmonic. In 2008, I married an incredible life partner, Nathan Tighe, and today we celebrate 6 years of marriage and have two beautiful children, Morgan and Kevin. We currently live in Rochester, MN.

Zenas: I grew up kind of everywhere, various parts of New Jersey, San -5Francisco, Seoul, and the DC suburbs. I had played piano since I was five-years-old, but when the opportunity came to choose an instrument in the 5th grade, the trombone was an easy choice for me. I did not want to play something all the other girls played, and it seemed the most weirdly shaped instrument to me. I studied with Jim Kraft of the National Symphony in high school, and went on to study with Norman Bolter at New England Conservatory. Norman Bolter focused my attention on the idea of using out-of-the-box concepts to solve technical problems. It is amazing what the mind can do-if you use it! Then I crossed the pond to the Netherlands to study with Jorgen van Rijen, Pierre Volders, and Remko de Jager in pursuit of my Masters degree. During my second year in the Netherlands, I won the principal trombone job with the Daegu Symphony Orchestra. After a year, I came back to the DC area, and started my DMA at University of Maryland with Craig Mulcahy.

Currently, I’m working on the DMA, playing with Rodney Marsalis Philadelphia Big Brass, freelancing and teaching in the DC area, and this past summer I have married my best friend of 8 years, tubist John Banther! My main philosophy in brass playing is using phrasing to aid technique. I feel that often, naturally musical phrasing is not second nature to young brass players. I have found that when you give direction a string of notes, often times the air is used more efficiently (and much better supported), and in turn articulation and sound is improved. This allows a sense of ease in playing to set in. Not to mention that it’s just nice to make music, instead of playing just notes!

Beth: I grew up in Davenport, Iowa, and came to the tuba when I was around ten-years-old. I had been playing the violin for several years, and was honestly heartbroken when my dreams of being a flute player were crushed, and I was given a euphonium instead. Very shortly after, I switched to the tuba and haven’t looked back since.
I’ve been very fortunate to have three very influential teachers in my life — Marty Erickson at Lawrence University, Mike Roylance at Yale University (MM) and Rex Martin at Northwestern University (DMA-in progress). All three were great examples for me of strong work ethic, well thought-out teaching philosophies, and a demonstrated track record of success, and I’m fortunate to count them as friends and mentors to this day.

As for my own brass playing philosophy, the goal is generally to keep it as simple and musical as possible. Having spent almost 10 years in higher education, the transition to becoming your own musician can be a little daunting, but I have to say, it’s been the most exciting time as well. I try to vary my practicing as much as possible, incorporating sight-reading, études, or other things into my daily routines that will keep me engaged and focused on continually improving both as an artist and an artisan.

Seraph MaryMary: I am from the Chicago area, and I started on a Yamaha cornet when I was ten-years-old. I later studied with David Bilger at The Curtis Institute of Music and with Allan Dean at the Yale School of Music. Out of school, I won a position with the Richmond Symphony in Virginia and also taught at Virginia Commonwealth University. I am also an active soloist and chamber musician (you can read my full bio at

I am constantly looking for inspiring projects: this season I am performing my first Brandenburg 2 with my non-profit ensemble in Florida-the Chrysalis Chamber Players, and I’ve just finished recording my first solo album of all American works that will be released in 2015.

Making a beautiful rich sound on the trumpet has always been my main focus. When I warm up in the morning, I play soft lip bends to get the cobwebs off of my sound and find my center for the day. Hakan Hardenberger describes this as getting the “gravel” out of your tone for the day. I spend most of my time these days practicing basics (80% of the time). This is helpful with my crazy travel schedule and when I have a ton of music to learn and perform. If the basics are in place, then learning music is much faster. I spend a lot of time doing mental practice and visualizing what I want the music to sound like. Also SLOW practice has been a game changer for me when I have stacks of music to learn. I’ve learned a lot from Jens Lindemann who I’ve studied with at the Banff Centre. I switched to smaller equipment since I am doing more solo and chamber music work. I currently am based out of Naples, FL where I live with my husband, trumpeter Dave Dash, and our cat Duke.

Katy: I grew up in a musical family in Metro-Detroit, studying Suzuki violin from age 2-5 and beginning horn lessons at age 10. I was very fortunate to have an exceptional private teacher, Connie Hutchinson. My parents are both music teachers and they knew the value of a solid foundation at an early age. I studied with Soren Hermansson at University of Michigan, who taught me the strength of a musical phrase and to sing through the horn. Randy Gardner at CCM was my teacher for my Masters degree. In addition to the advantage of his orchestral experience, he has a great mind for teaching. He is meticulous yet his ideas are simple and focused on honing fundamental skills and learning repertoire. I then studied William Purvis at Yale and he was excellent mentor to me. He made me question the purpose behind every note I played. He asked a lot of questions and made me figure out how to approach horn from several angles. I have also studied extensively with Denise Tryon in Philadelphia, who is all about quality of sound, air quantity and air speed. These four people were incredibly influential in my approach to the horn and I consider myself very fortunate to be able draw upon the pedagogy of each while forming my own.

Where do you see the Seraph in 5 years?
Zenas: In 5 years, we see Seraph as an active chamber ensemble, not only in terms of concertizing, but also having established strong partnerships with educational and community organizations to foster the idea of empowerment to the next generation of young women. We are currently discussing our first recording project, so hopefully we will have one or two recordings in 5 years. We aim to record new commissions, and our own arrangements of audience favorites, as well as brass favorites! We hope to have completed a few tours, be it in the US or overseas.

Do you have any in-house arrangers?

Ashley: I am married to one of our primary arrangers! My husband, Nathan Tighe, is currently a fourth year medical student who loves to arrange music for brass quintet. Prior to his medical training, he completed over 20 brass quintet arrangements, many of which we include in our concerts! He still arranges new music for us and sees it as a fun balance to his medical career.

Which brass groups have inspired you?
Ashley: Mnozil Brass
Katy: Empire, Canadian, German Brass
Beth: Stockholm Chamber Brass, American Brass Quintet, Phillip Jones Brass Ensemble
Mary: Boston Brass and Center City Brass
Zenas: New Trombone Collective

Non-brass chamber music groups?
Ashley: Kronos Quartet, Time for Three, The Kings Singers, Chanticleer, Yo-Yo Ma and his numerous collaborations, Bobby McFerrin and his numerous collaborations
Katy: Prism Quartet, eighth blackbird, Roomful of Teeth
Mary: Seraphic Fire, Dover Quartet, Ensemble Intercontemporain

What is the biggest challenge for a tubist in a brass quintet (Beth), and what size tuba have you decided to use? Any thoughts of more than one tuba
Beth: The biggest challenge: portability. Jokes aside, for the stuff that we recorded, I used an F tuba, but I do really enjoy the sound of the bigger CC tuba in the quintet — repertoire permitting. I think one of the challenges we face as tuba players in a quintet is that our role in the group changes frequently, as so many composers and arrangers have differing ideas on the role, capabilities, and sound of the tuba — some envision a bass trombone sound, while others hear more of a large tuba sound, and everything in between. Navigating those differences can have a huge effect on how we perceive our role in the low end, and I think that’s one of the more exciting challenges of playing in a quintet.

(Or horn, or trombone for that matter? Does the portability of the trumpet give them an advantage of options for colors and ease?)

-3Katy: We could talk physics for awhile here, but suffice it to say that the length and shape of the tubing for horn and trombone give both instruments a wide array of colors in the right hands. Trumpets have the hassle of needing to bring an extra suitcase just for their horns! Sure, it’s portable if you only need one, but when is the last time you saw a trumpet player show up to a gig with only one horn?

Mary: I travel quite a bit and end up carrying a b-flat, c, e-flat, 2 piccolos (Yamaha and a scherzer), and flugelhorn plus a handful of mutes and mouthpieces…

Which types of trumpets will Seraph feature? Any plans for flugelhorn?
Ashley: Mary and I play all types of trumpets including the cornet, Bb, C, Eb, piccolo and flugel horn. When given a choice, Mary is the one who prefers to play the piccolo trumpet and Eb and I prefer to play the cornet or flugelhorn.

Any plans for cross-overs with vocalists? or, Other female instrumentalists?
Zenas: In the immediate future, Joseph Hallman, who wrote a piece for Mary Bowden on her upcoming solo CD, is currently working on a piece for quintet and soprano. We are hoping to premiere it in March, 2015.

More women than men are now graduating from Universities in the United States. Is the 21st Century shaping up to be the Century of the Woman?
Katy: One hundred years is a long time, hopefully the 21st century will be less about defining the differences between gender roles and more about acknowledging the differences in individuals based on their behavior and social conduct.

If you were to add a sixth instrument, what would it be?
Mary: I don’t think we would add a permanent member to the group but we would love to collaborate with other musicians. I could see us performing with percussion at some point and also organ. I am interested in collaborations with any instrument if it works!

Please list your favorite recording for brass!!
Ashley: Bay Brass, “Christmas CD”
Katy: German Brass, “Bach 2000″
Beth: anything by the Phillip Jones Brass Ensemble
Mary: Center City Brass, “Street Song”
Zenas: Empire Brass, “Class Brass”

c. 2014 David William Brubeck All Rights Reserved.

Images Courtesy of SERAPH

Seraph Brass Quintet interview, brass quintet interview

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“Seven Positions” Salutes GEORGE ROBERTS-”MR. BASS TROMBONE”, with Jon Yeager George Roberts, Mr. Bass Trombone Courtesy Walt Disney World c 2012 David William Brubeck All Rights Reserved

With the passing of George Roberts, Mr. Bass Trombone, it seems as if That Rainy Day is here. For all of us who ever heard or met Roberts, the loss is tremendous, and our horns are a bit heavier now. According to Jim Self, tuba studio great, “George Roberts was a sweet man, great musician and friend. I got to sit next to him on hundreds of recording sessions and concerts. He liberated the bass trombone and made it a beautiful solo instrument. He’s on my list of musical heroes.” “Seven Positions” tm is saddened to note the passing of George Roberts, a man who occupies a place that is perhaps unique amongst virtuoso of any instrument: he is universally acclaimed to be the inspiration and model for all bass trombonists, classical and jazz. He will be missed.

What do you do when the world’s greatest bass trombonist retires to your community? Jon Yeager, who was an aspiring young high school aged bass trombonist did what came naturally; he took lessons. Yeager was to forge a long lasting friendship with George Roberts, “Mr. Bass Trombone”, that persisted as Yeager went away to University, eventually publishing an impressive dissertation on George Roberts, his life and approach to music. Roberts immense talent manifested itself during his retirement years as he innovated the bass trombone duo with pianist Reg Powell. Later, Roberts would go on to present the bass trombone in live performances with pre-recorded backing tracks from Powell and friends like the great arranger Nelson Riddle.

Roberts Yeager OldHow did you first meet George Roberts?
George had just moved down to Fallbrook, California, and he did a clinic at my high school. I was a freshman, and I did not have any real concept of who he was or how important he was. However, he must have had a strong impact on me that afternoon, because I went home and asked my parents if I could begin taking trombone lessons—from him, of course.

How long did you study with him?
We did our mostly-weekly lessons until I graduated high school. I was very lucky—it turned out he lived about a half mile down the road, and we became pretty good friends. Of course, George has been friends with just about everybody he has ever met. On the weekends, George would play over his background tapes at various coffee shops. Eventually, I gave him rides down to Kaffeen’s on Coronado Island, and he would let me play a couple of tunes each week. We continued doing that every time I came home from college.

What kind of concepts did he work on?
George really avoided getting too specific about technique. It was all about singing songs and telling stories. He showed me how to phrase songs and how to be free with rhythm. Along the way, he would throw things at me like slide vibrato and how to fake notes and simplify things. He also showed me head vibrato, which he used pretty regularly at the time, but I had trouble with it at the time.

Materials were almost exclusively background tapes and lead sheets. Mostly, he would sit in our living room, I would play a tune for him, and he would comment and model for me, vocally. Occasionally, we listened to recordings by people like Urbie Green and Bill Watrous. Early on, he gave me a beginning tuba method book to work on my bass trombone playing. I think it was Best In Class, but I don’t think he ever listened to me play any of it.

What do you feel remains with you from his teachings?
Striving to be a master of the basics: sound, intonation, time, style.

Did he offer any insights into famous recordings or artists?
George and Nelson Riddle were friends, and Riddle called George one day. He told George he was trying to come up with some sort of Afro-Cuban type thing to incorporate into an arrangement he was working on. George sang him some of the opening of “23 Degrees North, 82 Degrees West,” which he had recorded with Kenton. After a few bars, Riddle told him that he thought he could do something with it, and he proceeded to write the trombone crescendo section in the middle of “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” for Sinatra.

What prompted you to do your research paper on George?
Strangely, it hadn’t really occurred to me to write my dissertation about George until Vern Kagarice at North Texas suggested it. After I thought about it, George and his style seemed like an obvious topic for several reasons: 1) George’s influence on the world of bass trombone has been profound; 2) no one had ever really formally analyzed his playing; 3) it was a topic I was interested in; and 4) I realized I was probably as qualified as anyone to do it.

I’m about to shoot myself in the foot, but now I question whether or not I should have written a formal paper about George’s playing. The good thing about it is that it is a tangible document that can serve to teach younger players about George’s importance and what was different about his playing. The downside is that reading a paper seems like a fairly clinical way to learn about George’s playing. The best way is to find recordings and just really listen to them. So instead of recommending people read my dissertation, I’ll point them to my website. has a discography I spent a few years compiling, and there are some comments about George by several very well-known players. If people still want to read my paper, there’s a link to it there. Actually, the last part of my dissertation is the best part, and something that people may find of interest. It consists of transcripts of my two interviews with George—great stories and advice.

Who were his musical heroes?

George has mentioned trombonists such as Tommy Dorsey, Bill Harris, and Urbie Green, but I think he really idolizes Jack Teagarden and how Teagarden didn’t try to play like everyone else.

Being a “vocalist” on the trombone, George often spoke of singers in our lessons. He referred to Sarah Vaughan, Nat Cole, Tony Bennett, and Ella Fitzgerald, but I think he had the greatest respect for Frank Sinatra and the way he interpreted songs.

What do you feel are the essential elements of his style?

Allison Yeager, Jon Yeager, George Roberts & Matt Litwaitis in 2009

Allison Yeager, Jon Yeager, George Roberts & Matt Litwaitis in 2009

George sings through his trombone, with a sound that projects “like a trombone.” He doesn’t try to play like a big, macho bass trombone, unless it’s really appropriate. Even in the low register, his playing shows his personality: beauty, lightness, sense of humor. He has told me many times that his idea was to play like Urbie Green, but an octave lower.

What techniques or ability allowed him to ‘get on tape’ so readily and easily?

That projecting sound. He tells a story about a recording session many years ago. I don’t remember all the details, but it was something like: someone asked the lead trombone player what he thought of the bass trombonist, and the lead player said, “I can barely hear him. He doesn’t play loud enough.” Then they went into the booth and listened to the take, and George’s sound just about dominated the section.

What do you remember about the horns he played?
He has developed instruments for Olds, Holton, Yamaha, Conn, and Kanstul, I think in that order. When I met him, he was working with Yamaha on the 612. My parents got one for me, and that’s what I’ve played for most of the last twenty-plus years. It’s a very light horn that speaks right away. Except for the Yamaha, I’m pretty sure his instruments have always been single-valve horns, because he doesn’t like the mass of a second valve section. I think he has always used a Remington lead pipe and 1 ½ G-style (maybe slightly oversized) mouthpiece—nothing too big.

What was it like to go to a coffee shop and hear George Roberts?
Those visits to the coffee shops are some of my fondest memories and when probably my most profound musical and “personal” instruction occurred. That’s not meant to take anything from some other great teachers I’ve been fortunate enough to have, but interacting with George and hearing him in person really inspired me as a trombonist and had an effect on the type of person I have become.

Why was he so important for the bass trombone?
He was the one who took the bass trombone from being basically a rare, heavy, background instrument in popular music to one that could be a versatile, expressive male voice. He’s the one that prompted arrangers to write interesting lines for bass trombone and proved that the bass trombone could be a beautiful solo instrument.

One of the things that you mentioned in our telephone conversation, was that George heard what he wanted before he played it.
I think George has a very clear mental image of the sound he wants, but much of what he does musically is spontaneous. Something else I should have mentioned was his emphasis on beginners establishing a great sound before learning a bunch of notes. He might say, “Learn to play the most beautiful sound in the world, then learn what to do with it.”

c. 2014 David William Brubeck All Rights Reserved.

Images courtesy of Jon Yeager and David Brubeck

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