Striking. Fresh. Bold. Innovative. Like the first recordings of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Brass Quintet, or the Initial engaging performances of the Canadian Brass, MNOZIL BRASS has set brass chamber music on its ear and changed the course of history. Born as a quintet in 1991 with friends from the university in a local bar named Mnozil, they added two members in 1996, and stage direction in 2001. THOMAS GANSCH, ROBERT ROTHER, ROMAN RINDBERGER, LEONHARD PAUL, GERHARD FÜSSL, ZOLTAN KISS, WILFRIED BRANDSTÖTTER-three trumpets, three tenor trombones and tuba, Thomas Gansch speaks for the group as “FIVE!”tm (ahem, plus TWO!), is delighted to welcome the revolutionary Mnozil Brass to our theatre- the curtain rises!
1. “Applied Brass” is where the rubber hits the road. Please talk about your relationship with your audiences and how they may differ from those of traditional concert ensembles.
Music is the most direct art form. You get back what you give immediately, but the relationship between musician and audience is defined by the player. I, for example, am always looking for eye contact with audience members. It encourages me to see peoples’ reactions to our show. With a brass instrument, it´s just great fun to use the whole dynamic scale and watch the audience reactions to that. You can make them cry, cheer, cover their ears or dance in their seats-it´s like telling stories. The difference for classical audiences is that they never know what´s going to happen in our show, and I think they like that!
2. The chemistry (or positive interactions) between the members of Mnozil Brass seems extraordinary. How did you meet? How do you keep it going ?
Wilfried, Gerhard and myself met around 1991 and started the group in the fall of 1992 together with some friends from the music university. In the beginning, we were playing mostly as a quintet. The septet line up happened in 96; that was also the time when the group got more “professional”.
in 2001 we did our first show with a director and choreographer. As you can see, everything developed very slowly and maybe that is one of the main reasons why we´re still having fun. There was never a “hype” about us; everything developed very naturally. As a matter of fact, we had already had made a living with the group for some years, before the media in Austria discovered us. Everything happened within the brass community, and by the time we became known to a wider public, we had already worked together for about 13 or 14 years.
3. “See our Music”, your additions to brass presentations go way beyond the traditions of simple blocking, and even beyond choreography. It is Theatre! How did you arrive at this amazing break-through of presenting bras concert music as theatre?
We achieved this by working with an actor/director named bernd jeschek, who had come to us after seeing one of our early, very wild performances. Our first shows were very free: a set list and a lot of “improv” on stage-some good, some bad. The main problem was our lack of timing. Seven jokes at a time; he showed us that less was more.
4. “Smell the Stage Performance” How much time have you spent training and developing as actors? Anyone with a drama background prior to Mnozil?
It´s all learning by doing;no special background.
5. “No note too hot” How do you approach jazz, and who likes to improvise?
Everyone in the group comes from a different direction and adds his favorites to the group repertoire. The jazz specialists are Leonhard and myself. For me, I can say that i grew up with mostly Czech brass music and i had two more, huge musical awakenings as a teenager. One was when I heard Queen for the first time. The second, was seeing Dizzy Gillespie on television. That changed my game completely!
6. Do you have any favorite arrangers? Any in house?
Arrangers in general? Well, Thad Jones, Nelson Riddle, Billy May, Frank Foster, Henry Mancini-mostly big band and film music specialists.
7. Arrangers in the group?
7. “No Music Too Inferior”. While you present a variety of styles, the quality remains exceptional. Which styles seem to offer a wealth of unexplored music?
The more styles=the more fun. that way it doesn´t get boring too soon. It´s as simple as that…
8. What does the bass trumpet add to the group? Does euphonium figure in your plans?
In terms of sound, it´s the larger brother of the flugelhorn, and it fits in a suitcase, so it´s relatively easy to transport. Easier than a euphonium anyway…
9. Three trombones, all tenors; why no bass trombone?
We´re more flexible like that.
10. Mnozil’s tavern? What’s it like to start a brass group in a bar? How has it influenced you?You learn very quickly how to not bore the audience. (‘Cuz if you do; you´ll get nothing to drink!)
11. What are your favorite recordings of brass?
Some of my personal favorites:
all of the soundtracks to the old Star Wars and Indiana Jones movies,
because of the incredible combination of the brass section of the London Symphony Orchestra in the 70´s and 80´s (led by Maurice Murphy on first trumpet), together with John Williams incredible scores. These are still some of my favorite music from the 20th century.
Also, the old recordings from the Czech Army Central Orchestra or the Subraphone orchestra. These are the two wind bands i grew up listening to, and they still leave me in awe with their perfect phrasing and musicianship.
And all the great big band brass sections: Basie, Ellington, Thad Jones/Mel Lewis, Billy May, even better with Conrad Gozzo, Al Porcino or Snookey Young on lead!
12. Whatsoever things= All the best! C U on tour!
c. 2015 David William Brubeck All Rights Reserved. davidbrubeck.com
Images courtesy of Mnozil Brass
Interested in more “FIVE” tm interviews?
Canadian Brass 2014, Windsync 2014, Boston Brass 2015, Mnozil Brass 2015, Spanish Brass 2014, Dallas Brass 2014, Seraph 2014, Atlantic Brass Quintet 2015, Mirari Brass 2015, Axiom Brass 2015, Scott Hartmann of the Empire Brass 2015, Jeffrey Curnow of the Empire Brass 2015, Ron Barron and Ken Amis of the Empire Brass, Meridian Arts Ensemble 2015, Berlin Philharmonic Woodwind Quintet 2015, American Brass Quintet 2015