Inspired by String Quartets and Brass Quintets; Juilliard and Northwestern; The United States and Brazil; transcriptions and original compositions-Axiom Brass is able to hold each dichotomy firmly, while fluidly exploring the joys of ambiguity. “FIVE!”tm finds the beauty in carefully crafting a the future of brass with Axiom. Enjoy!
What led you to arranging for brass? What have been your most rewarding transcriptions and why?
The repertoire for Brass Quintet is somewhat limited, so transcriptions and arrangements are an almost inevitable path when building repertoire. Interestingly, transcriptions have been popular throughout history, at times even with the composer himself re-transcribing an earlier work for different instrumentation.
My transcriptions were in part born out of a necessity to have music that was written to best capture Axiom’s musical vision. I don’t really think of them as arrangements or transcriptions, I envision them more as translations. The idea is similar to translating a poem from a different language. The poem cannot simply be translated, it must be re-imagined so to keep the original beauty and essence that it possessed in the original language. Axiom offers me the perfect environment to experiment with these translations. First, because I can write with a specific musician in mind and not just an instrument. Secondly, because I can try things out in rehearsals and take my time reworking sections until they sound the way I imagined them.
I mostly rework string quartets, early music and Latin music for brass quintet. I guess some of the Latin music has become very popular in our concerts. I have enjoyed doing all of them, but I would say my favorite composer to translate is Astor Piazzolla, both for the challenge that it presents and for the reactions we get from our audiences.
What differences have you noted in the approaches to playing brass instruments by musicians from Brazil and The United States?
I think the main difference from my experience in Brazil versus my experience here in the States is the foundation of the music making process.
In Brazil, musical education is not as organized as it is here. Universities and conservatories don’t have the same structure and planning as we see here. That is not necessarily a bad quality since the result is that musicians in South America tend to be more intuitive and less technique oriented. Music becomes the driving force behind technique and not the other way around.
On the other hand, a deep understanding of the instrument and the music is crucial to a great performance. I think a balance between the two is ideal. I think in Brazil the students would benefit a lot from the structure we have here. I also think that we could use a little more of that natural instinct and rawness in our music making over here in the US.
How did the group come together?
Axiom was created as a way to continue some of the quintet experiences I had at Juilliard as a student in the American Brass Quintet seminar and as part of a fellowship brass quintet for one Juilliard’s community outreach programs. While in New York I had a lot of opportunities to perform chamber music at elementary schools, retirement homes, hospitals and rehab centers. These opportunities gave me a valuable insight into the power of chamber music. Once I left school, I quickly realized that chamber music was my passion and what I wanted to do professionally. It was a matter of time until I could put together the group again. Initially, we still had some of the same people from our school days but eventually, the travel demands and other life events made it impossible for some of the members to continue. Since at that point I was living in Chicago, it was an obvious choice to look for replacement members based in Chicago.
What has a Tanglewood residence meant to Axiom? What are some of your favorite memories?
Axiom puts education at the forefront of our mission, and there is no better place to do so than at the Boston University Tanglewood Institute. At BUTI we have the privilege to work with some of our nation’s most promising young artists. We have the opportunity to share with these young minds the possibilities that the future holds. We have a chance to inspire these students to pursue a career in chamber music.
I could keep on going, but at the end of the day, it really is not so much what we do for the students but what they do for us. Every summer at Tanglewood I am recharged for the year ahead. The students and the environment inspire me to continue furthering my craft. I guess Tanglewood keeps us young as an ensemble.
We have had many incredible moments at Tanglewood in the past few years, but if I had to pick one, I would say it was the Wind Ensemble final concert in 2014. I was completely floored by their performance. The program was the most challenging one I had heard that ensemble prepare. The final performance possessed a level of excitement and emotional maturity that was electrifying. I could not believe how a group of high school musicians could take me in such an emotional roller-coaster. They performed with a level of fearlessness and adventure that is often lost in professional concerts.
Which brass groups have inspired you and how?
American Brass for their bold approach to repertoire and incredible ensemble blend. Art of Brass Vienna for their ensemble tightness and warm sound. Center City Brass Quintet for their energetic style and dynamic spectrum.
Non brass groups?
Juilliard, Emerson and Pacifica string quartets for their musicianship and ensemble concept. They all exhibit a incredibly high level of execution and consistency without compromising their ensemble musical vision.
I find it fascinating to see how much their performances of the same repertoire can vary so drastically and yet never fail to deliver the music. I feel in brass chamber music we are still too bound to sounding like someone else instead of finding our own interpretation and identity.
I am also a fan of Kronos and Eight Blackbird for their musicianship, eclecticism and adventurous programing.
What draws you to chamber music as your first musical priority?
As a tuba player, I am always eager to take on challenges beyond the typical band and orchestra repertoire. In brass quintet, there has to be a balance of soloistic playing while participating as a team member of the ensemble. To me, this is the most sophisticated type of music making – one that involves such a demanding musical role while reacting, processing, and conversing with 4 other musicians to create an artistic product.
Chamber music also lends itself to a more expressive and varied type of repertoire. With brass quintet being a relatively new genre of chamber music, there are so many directions we can go. From arrangements and transcriptions of early music to commissions of new pieces, there is an infinite array of styles from which to draw. Being one of five members of a chamber ensemble, I have an important role in rehearsals, performances, and in the artistic vision of the group. I much prefer this to simply performing music that has been chosen for me by a programming
committee and performing that music the way the conductor wants. In a chamber group, I have true musical responsibility.
Finally, I have traveled more with Axiom Brass in the past 6 years than I have ever before. Working with a small ensemble allows us to see the world, share our music with communities that would otherwise not be able to experience Classical music, and perform in venues that would normally be off limits to larger ensembles. In that way, we can share music with and experience different cultures through the art of music making.
What have been the most surprising musical discoveries you have encountered performing the varied literature of Axiom?
I am constantly surprised at what Axiom has been able to achieve. I have the honor of working with 4 amazing musicians and genuinely great friends. This relationship, coupled with a fearless musical approach, has lead to some very magical moments for me. All of my colleagues are musically bold, and I am inspired by them everyday.
With Axiom, I have learned that there is a much wider range of expression for brass instruments. We do not often think of ourselves as a brass quintet – instead, we model ourselves after piano trios and string quartets. This simple approach has been a huge proponent in shaping our concept of ensemble sound. We have been able to achieve greater warmth and a more vocal approach to repertoire of all styles and genres. One of my favorite examples of this is an arrangement of the Mendelssohn String Quartet No. 1 as envisioned by our trumpeter, Dorival Puccini. This fantastic arrangement draws very closely from the original piece for string quartet which challenges us to find new ways of musical expression on brass instruments. Although we have never performed the piece in its entirety, it has been a wonderful study for us over the years. I am happy to say that we will be resurrecting the piece for our upcoming 2015-2016 season.
It seems extraordinarily well organized and broad-is it difficult to keep under your fingers?
There are many different directions we can take our repertoire, but before we program any piece of music we first ask ourselves “does this piece fit with the vision of Axiom Brass?” In other words, is this work meaningful to us, to brass music, and to the chamber music community as a whole? We only perform music we are deeply passionate about regardless of whether it is early music, original brass quintet, or Latin music. We want to share music we care about. With that approach, we can connect more closely with audiences thereby creating a better concert experience.
Choosing the right repertoire is a long process involving reading sessions, working closely with composers, creating our own arrangements, listening to recordings and doing a lot of background research. But through all of this we grow as musicians. It has been quite a rewarding experience!
Which brass groups have inspired you and how?
American Brass Quintet for paving the way for serious brass chamber music and for their beauty of style and interpretation. Art of Brass Vienna for their warm, buttery approach to brass sound. Center City Brass Quintet for their incredibly tight ensemble and expansive dynamic range.
Non brass groups?
Emerson String Quartet – their reputation speaks for itself. To me, this is the epitome of serious chamber music. Kronos Quartet for their bold programming and musical production. Peter Philips & The Tallis Scholars for their angelic sound in vocal Renaissance music.
What are the main attributes of trumpet playing that were imparted to you by each of your trumpet teachers?
I have been very fortunate to learn from some of the best trumpet teachers and musicians around and am definitely the better for it! I would really stress the word musician before trumpet teacher. Sure, there are just some technical and strategical things that you have to know about the instrument, but the best teachers, I believe, are great musicians that can show you how to transcend the difficulties of the instrument.
Just by sheer luck, I think I got a great start to the trumpet with no teacher at all. No, Iâ€™m not being sarcastic. Sure, it would have been great to start off in 5th grade with a high caliber teacher, but I also didnâ€™t come away with a lot of baggage from a sub par instructor. In lieu of lessons, I spent a lot of time by myself in the backyard, trying to figure it out…with my ear. At the time, I couldnâ€™t read music and learned to play by listening and mimicking. Now that I know about the Suzuki Method for strings, I think I got a poor-manâ€™s, lonelier version of that for trumpet. I didnâ€™t have a lot of hang-ups because I wasnâ€™t trying to learn how to read music before speaking the language, just like when babies try and sound out words when they learn to speak. I learned to make a sound and didnâ€™t realize some things are â€œdifficultâ€ on trumpet before I then learned how to read sheet music.
I did eventually get some lessons my senior year of high school and I went to a magnet school called the Fine Arts Center in Greenville, SC in the same year. There I learned how to multiple tongue and was introduced some of the standard repertoire. It was an incredible and very unique place that helped me prepare for the Navy Band program. The Navy was a great teacher in its own right and taught me â€œhow toâ€ and â€œhow not toâ€ do things. You learn to prepare for a concert pretty quickly and how to get performance ready in a short amount of time. Compared to a college band or orchestra that allows for about 6 weeks (or more) to prepare for a concert, the military bands taught me to get performance ready in much less time than that – days or even an afternoon. However, some of the college groups that Iâ€™ve been in put that extra level of polish at the end that the military bands couldnâ€™t or didnâ€™t have an interest in doing. There was always a sense that it was â€œgood enoughâ€ and â€œwhy bother doing more if Iâ€™m paid the sameâ€ mentality that can be pretty soul-crushing.
Dr. Christopher Moore at Florida State University was my first real trumpet teacher and I owe him a great debt. I really got my butt kicked in terms of fundamentals and general trumpet sound quality. With him, I had my first foray into the vast trumpet repertoire and learned how to truly practice. I had lots of performance experience in the Navy, but didnâ€™t know how to effectively practice. I really learned how to organize my practice routine at FSU. If it hadnâ€™t been for the things I learned from Dr. Moore, I never would have achieved the level of playing I have today, and I donâ€™t think I ever could have gotten into a program like Northwestern.
I was Mr. Charlie Geyer’s graduate assistant at Northwestern and he really challenged me in my weak areas. We never really addressed any fundamentals – except for maybe his occasional opinion on things – and it really felt like a â€œfinishingâ€ school to help prepare me for the professional world. I always felt inspired and energized coming out of their lessons and I would regularly practice right after lessons to cement their teachings.
Three major things that I came away from the Barbara Butler/Charlie Geyer school were:
1) Attention to detail. I had gone to Navy boot camp and I thought I had a pretty good grasp of attention to detail, but they take it to the next level. Mr. Geyer often joked that he is undiagnosed OCD and said that â€œyou have to be a little obsessed with the trumpet to be a good trumpet player.â€ Notations in the score, historical context, intonation, articulation, trumpet selection, mouthpiece selection, mute selection, tricks and cheats, you name it – if youâ€™re trying to win a job against hundreds of other applicants, it can come down to a missed articulation or dynamic.
2) Record everything you can. This isnâ€™t a concept that is new or exclusive to their studio, but I havenâ€™t seen a studio yet where it is so ingrained and, quite frankly, mandatory! Every lesson, every studio class, every audition (professional and mock), ensemble rehearsals, masterclasses were highly encouraged and politely expected to be recorded. Not only did Mr. Geyer want me to get my moneyâ€™s worth for my degree, but I think there is concept from Arnold Jacobs of â€œyou canâ€™t sit in the performersâ€™ chair and the teacherâ€™s chair at the same timeâ€ that applies. Meaning that if youâ€™re analyzing yourself while youâ€™re performing, you wonâ€™t be very musical. Record, perform, and then analyze and scrutinize. This is a concept that is relevant to every Axiom Brass rehearsal and performance.
3) The â€œpower of the studio.â€ While I was at NU I tried to absorb as much as I could and I asked Mr. Geyer why he thought they had success with their students over the years. He said that obviously talent was a large part of it, but choosing the â€œrightâ€ students (in regards to attitude, good nature, and work ethic) is also a big part of it. He said that every once in a while theyâ€™ll get a â€œbad apple,â€ but the â€œpower of the groupâ€ overcomes them and sets them straight. When you think about it, you donâ€™t really spend that much time with your applied professor compared to your colleagues in the studio. In a year you might average 25-30 hours of private lessons, but youâ€™re spending 25-30 hours a week with people in your studio.
One last contribution to my education I would be remiss without including would be Gail Williamsâ€™ (horn professor at Northwestern) â€œTeaching Techniquesâ€ class. It was a very simple concept – we had to observe 15 private lessons from various applied professors and write a small report on each one – but it made a lasting impression on me. While I believe that the trumpet is one of the best instruments of all time, I also think that we can learn so much from vocalists, strings, and woodwinds. Their instruments, when used by master composers as solo instruments, have a firm grasp of phrasing and musical nuance that I think is missing from nuts and bolts teaching of the trumpet.
How do drum corps experiences influence your approach to the instrument and music in general?
Drum Corps is a valuable outlet for good practice and performance techniques for students that wouldnâ€™t otherwise have access to them. Because drum corps are found in almost every part of America the fundamental techniques they promote are accessible even to people who are unable to regularly hear a major orchestra or band. Also, for young players, it sets a regimented practice schedule and forces them to incorporate routine in their practice habits. Drum corps transformed me from a weak, young high school trumpet kid into a serious player over the course of a summer. It is a valuable formative experience.
Recently, as a teacher, Iâ€™ve seen more and more corps adopt techniques that used to be just reserved for serious classical players, like the Chicowicz â€œFlow Studiesâ€ or buzzing, for example. It is also now common knowledge that a major 3rd is tempered down 14 cents for Just
intonation. (NB: Mr. Geyer told me he wasnâ€™t aware of this until he was 35 years old playing with the CSO!) Itâ€™s great that young players are already equipped with this knowledge.
However, Iâ€™ve often noticed that these techniques are being blindly used without understanding what is being achieved. The Flow Studies are an egregious example implemented from brass staffs that have 3rd- or 4th-hand knowledge from its creator Vincent Chicowicz. Iâ€™ve also noticed a trend from the band community of brass sound and blend that virtually eliminates the color and excitement from brass playing. Their desire for blend and homogeneity of sound has unfortunately resulted in a boring and uninspired music in my opinion. Sometimes getting a better tone means making an ugly sound and then refining it.
Still, itâ€™s wonderful and inspiring that the students are exposed to such high-level concepts.
Can you describe the Civic Orchestra experience?
My two years with the Civic Orchestra was one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences in my life. Rehearsing and performing in the Symphony Center was intimidating at first but really shaped my playing and my ear. Itâ€™s not an easy space for brass to play in, and I developed a deeper understanding of the â€œChicagoâ€ brass sound.
I really liked working with Cliff Colnot, he was a great personality to be around. He really pushed musicians beyond their comfort zones with very frank and practical language. Although he was hard on some of us, I think he understood what it took to turn students into professionals. He was able to put a level of polish on the ensemble in a short amount of time because he organized sectional rehearsals even before we rehearsed as a full ensemble. Also, Dr. Colnot really emphasized the importance of score study, and many copies of the score where available at every rehearsal. It seems like in many youth ensembles in this country, the score is treated like a â€œTeacherâ€™s Edition;â€ itâ€™s seen as off-limits or cheating for the students to consult it.
It was also great to get to know and learn from my colleagues in Civic. In graduate programs students tend to isolate themselves in their studio, and in Civic I had the opportunity to interact with lots of young professionals.
Which brass groups have inspired you and how?
There are so many quality groups and I would say that a few that directly influence me are: the American Brass Quintet, the Center City Brass Quintet, the Meridian Arts Brass Quintet, and the Stockholm Chamber Brass. In grade school I was also heavily influenced by the Empire Brass Quintet and Rolf Smedvig as the first quintet that I was introduced to (On the day of this writing I am saddened by the news of Mr. Smedvig’s passing. He was an incredible trumpet player and we all owe him a great debt in the trumpet and brass quintet community). I think these groups are continuously propelling the art form and helping legitimizing brass quintet as a respectable chamber music group. At Axiom Brass we are always thinking about how we can continue to bring chamber brass music to the next level.
Non brass groups?
Living in Chicago we are very lucky to have other quality chamber groups around to inspire us: Eighth Blackbird, 5th House, Third Coast Percussion, and Ensemble Del Niente for example. In a lot of ways, I think that chamber music is the future of classical music. Not only can we be more versatile than an orchestra, but with our more portable size I think we can reach a wider audience. I’m inspired by these successful groups that are reaching audiences, making people think, commissioning new music, and expanding the viability of chamber music.
How do you conceive of embouchure in different ranges?
I feel that the embouchure must reflect the range being played in order for the sound to have the maximum tone and color. There are certain fundamentals that must always be in place for a healthy embouchure. For example, there must be an even level of engagement of the corners on both sides of the mouth. I find that I can keep tabs on this by double checking in a mirror from time to time while practicing. In general, however, I think less about the structure of my embouchure and more about my air stream when I play between different ranges. Using an “Ah” or “Oh” syllable for the low and mid range air allows for the air stream to be relaxed yet focused.
When transitioning to the upper register, a syllable similar to “Ee” should be used. Using these different syllables has the effect of changing the focus and speed of the air which will allow for a rich, healthy sound in all registers. It is important to note that the air should always be moving the same regardless of the register. Don’t try to blow more air in the upper register, instead think about letting the change in syllable accelerate the air. This will allow the embouchure to stay relaxed, with minimal mouthpiece pressure, and promote good habits of air use.
Do you pivot or strive for essentially one embouchure?
I try to think of having only one embouchure, with small adjustments in the mouthpiece’s position for each note, to make it speak as easily as possible. Doing this facilitates transitions between registers easily and quickly, regardless of slurring or articulating. There are very rare occasions where I need to do a pivot in a more extreme sense, generally involving notes that are in the pedal register and very loud dynamics. In general, however, I want to keep everything smooth with the conscious concept of sound driving the placement of each note.
What do draw on from your background as a mid-westerner that informs your music?
The Midwest has helped me to appreciate the calmness and natural breathing that is in music.
Though Chicago is in the Midwest, it is certainly much more busy than Minnesota, where I grew up. That spacious environment has helped me understand how to accentuate the beauty of a slow phrase or a simple melody. Some of my favorite passages to play are incredibly quiet and lyrical. Although I certainly enjoy playing loudly too, my Midwestern mentality helps me fill my quiet dynamics with energy and character.
Which brass groups have inspired you and how?
Chicago Chamber Music brass, The Metropolitan Opera Brass, Art of Brass Vienna, American Brass. All of these ensembles have amazing concepts of sound and artistry. All of the players play with a unified vision of the music they want to convey. In addition, I was influenced as a trombone player by the Four of a Kind trombone quartet. I first heard their album at a relatively early age and it raised the bar for what trombone playing was to me at that time.
Non brass groups?
I like to listen to cellists and vocalists. Musicians such as Rostropovich or Quasthoff are able to evoke emotions in their music through phrasing that trombone players strive to achieve, especially in the repertoire we borrow from cellists and singers. Studying the shapes of the music of non brass musicians leads to important decisions on diction, intensity, and breathing in a musical way.
Which quintet horn players have you strived to emulate, and how would describe their approach to the 3-spot in the quintet?
There has been no shortage of great quintet horn players to draw inspiration from over the years! The ones Iâ€™ve tried to emulate the most include Eric Ruske (Empire Brass), David Wakefield (American Brass Quintet), Jeff Nelsen (Canadian Brass), Seth Orgel (Atlantic Brass Quintet), and Richard King (Center City Brass). There are many other outstanding players out there; these are just some of the most-recorded players and groups.
Although each of these horn players were members of a different quintet, with different concepts of sound and performance style, a common characteristic they all share is their approach to fulfilling the 3- spot in the ensemble. In my own experience, this is such a crucial aspect of not just good brass quintet musicianship, but of good chamber music in general. We must always be sensitive to our role in the texture of the groupâ€™s sound.
I think all of the great brass quintet horn players would agree that we can draw a great deal of inspiration from the example of the string quartet. There is such a rich history of music and tradition surrounding string quartet, while brass quintet is really quite young by comparison. One of the most admirable qualities of great string quartets is the unity of sound they achieve. As we strive to emulate this quality in brass chamber music, I think a comparison can be made between the role that the viola and the horn each play in their respective groups.
In the string quartet, the viola plays a crucial role as a sort of mediator between the upper voices of the violins and the lower voice of the cello. It acts as â€œglueâ€ that unifies the group sound. In the same way, the horn fulfills this this role in the brass quintet, connecting the upper range of the trumpetsâ€™ sounds with the low range of the trombone and the tuba. It is essential for the horn player to be sensitive of this role if they are going to adequately assume the 3-spot in the ensemble. As I have grown up listening to recordings of the great brass quintets mentioned earlier, Iâ€™ve realized that each group had a horn player who was incredibly skilled in this way.
One might ask what this approach looks like practically. To that, I would say that the horn player should develop a horn sound that is almost â€œchameleon-likeâ€, blending impeccably with the trumpets at times but in other moments shifting to a color that can blend with a tuba. The beauty of a brass quintetâ€™s organ-like sound can only be achieved with this sort of skill blending colors (this is really something that every member of the group must be conscious of). A horn player can learn to make these small adjustments in the color of their sound, by altering their hand position, the size of the oral cavity, and the speed and size of the air column. Flexibility is also very important. Over the years, Iâ€™ve drawn much of my inspiration from each of the players I mentioned earlier, and Iâ€™ve felt that their example has really helped my understanding of how to approach playing horn in brass quintet.
What does it mean to you to have had such a close experience with the “Chicago Sound” of horn playing?
The Chicago horn sound has been a major influence in my approach to playing the horn. As a student growing up in south Florida, I listened to recordings constantly â€“ American orchestras, European orchestras, chamber music, soloists, whatever I could l get my hands on. Over time, I found myself developing a strong preference for the Chicago sound of horn playing. I made up my mind that if I ever got a chance to move somewhere else, it would be Chicago, or another city with as similar school of playing.
As it turned out, I was very fortunate to have the privilege of studying at Northwestern University for two years, with Gail Williams and Jonathan Boen. Looking back, I recall how, in most of my lessons with each of my teachers, we focused primarily on sound quality! And if that wasnâ€™t enough inspiration, there were the countless
opportunities to hear concerts at the CSO, Lyric Opera, Ravinia, and Grant Park. So, considering all of that, I think that the Chicago sound has become a big part of my identity as a musician and horn player.
How do you balance the twin approaches of low horn and high horn regarding embouchure?
This is a very practical question, with applications to all horn players. There once was a time when a horn player could consider themselves a â€œspecialistâ€ in either low horn or high horn. Those days are mostly gone. With all of the developments weâ€™ve seen in pedagogy, instrument design, and especially musical demands, it has become essential for every horn player to strive to be proficient in the full range of the horn. Most players will still have one range they feel more naturally comfortable in, but in general, we all seek to have a command of the full range. And this has always been especially true for the brass quintet horn player. Brass quintet repertoire is notorious for horn parts that utilize the hornâ€™s entire range. It requires nimbleness, agility and flexibility from the horn player, in all aspects but particularly with regards to range. And the embouchure is so crucial to meeting those musical demands.
Personally, I have found that I needed to condition my embouchure to suit this type of playing, and I have had to cater my approach to daily practicing in order to meet those needs. This is quite different from the approach one would take to the orchestral audition scenario. In those situations, a horn player will often find themselves needing to structure their practicing to meet the needs of the excerpts they are preparing, for example strengthening their low range for a fourth horn position, or their high range for a principle position. In these scenarios, the player may find themselves neglecting one range of their playing as they condition their embouchure to be especially proficient in the range demanded by the job.
The best approach to daily practice for the brass quintet horn player, and the approach Iâ€™ve found necessary for my own needs, is one that trains the embouchure to be comfortable moving freely throughout the full range of the horn. There is a virtuosity that must be sought after. In my practicing, I focus heavily on exercises based on the harmonic series, moving quickly from low to high, so that my embouchure gets used to the feeling of totally flexibility. Etudes are also very helpful for training the embouchure to be agile. Itâ€™s easy for a horn player to develop a low â€œsetâ€ or a high â€œsetâ€ in their embouchure, which may give them a strength and security to play notes in that particular range. However, they must be careful that this setting does not get them stuck or hamper their ability to still be agile in their playing. Again, virtuosity is the key. Many pieces in the repertoire require the horn player to move very quickly through the range of the horn and this is not easy to do with a good core sound unless the embouchure has been carefully conditioned for that kind of movement.
Which brass groups have inspired you and how? Non brass groups?
Iâ€™ve been inspired by a number of different brass groups, and not always just quintets. The Summit Brass and the German Brass are both larger ensembles that I really enjoy listening to. The virtuosity of their playing, the evenness of their sounds and the incredible blend that they achieve have all been very inspiring to me as a horn player. Some of my favorite quintets include the American Brass Quintet, the Atlantic Brass Quintet, Center City Brass, Art of Brass Vienna, and the Empire Brass, just to name a few. The same qualities mentioned before apply to these groups. I appreciate the beauty and the unity of the sound each of these quintets achieve, their impeccable balance, blend, rhythm, and intonation. And I also think itâ€™s a joy to hear how different groups interpret the standards in the repertoire, and to draw inspiration from that while playing in Axiom.
Aside from brass groups, I enjoy listening to string quartets and wind quintets as well. String quartets are especially admirable for their incredible precision and attention to every minute detail in the music. We brass players can learn so much from their example!
On the other hand, wind quintets exemplify a lightness in their playing that also really inspires me. And as a horn player, I always admire hearing the horn blend so well with the woodwind instruments. I try to have that same sense of blend in my brass quintet playing.
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
c. 2015 David William Brubeck All Rights Reserved. www.davidbrubeck.com
Images courtesy of Axiom Brass