17 March 2014

Berlin Philharmonic Brass (Germany)

The Berlin Philharmonic Brass, one of the longest standing ensembles to have emerged from the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, was founded in the 1950s. With 12 virtuoso musicians it brings the distinctive sound and tradition of this great orchestra to its dynamic chamber music performance in Germany and throughout the World.

The concerts of the Berlin Philharmonic Brass are a celebration of the diversity of brass music which ranges from traditional work of the baroque and classical eras through to commissions by leading contemporary composers and entertaining arrangements of jazz and other well known popular pieces.

The rapport of the of the 12 musicians, communicated to the audience in performances of spontaneity and passion, is without doubt enhanced by their experience playing together as members of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra.

16 March 2014

Think Music Heals?

Trombone Player Begs To Differ

by Diane Orson

"I coughed. I had a horrible deep barking cough -- especially when I played trombone," Scott Bean says.Each day, thousands of music students head to band practice with their trumpets, trombones and saxophones. But they may want to pay a bit more attention to the way they clean out their instruments when rehearsal is over. One musician in Connecticut learned the hard way about the dangers of not cleaning his horn — after he developed a condition that's being called "trombone players' lung."
"I coughed. I had a horrible deep barking cough — especially when I played trombone," Scott Bean says.  It turned out that his trombone, or what was inside it, was making him sick.
Diane Orson For NPR
Scott Bean spends hours each day performing, practicing and teaching the trombone. But for years, Bean struggled with health problems that made it hard to play his instrument.
"I coughed. I had a horrible deep barking cough — especially when I played trombone. I had a sore throat, lost 60 pounds at a time, had a low-grade fever," he says. "It was a huge hindrance."
The Stuff Inside
Doctors thought Bean had asthma, but none of the usual therapies worked. After 15 years, Bean went on vacation for the first time without his trombone — and felt better. He began to wonder if the instrument could be making him sick.
A doctor at the University of Connecticut took a culture from inside his horn.
"Then he calls me up and says, 'Scott, we know what's in your trombone,'"

Read more HERE

14 March 2014

Tine Thing Helseth (Norway)

Helseth started to play trumpet at the age of 7 and studies at the Barratt Due Institute of Music in Oslo.
Born in 1987, Tine belongs to a new generation of Norwegian soloists and indeed a new generation of brass soloists all together, perhaps more influenced by the idiom of string players and singers than what used to be the case. Tine’s approach to music is refreshingly focused and straightforward, with an extra touch of artistic magic that reaches everyone who hears her playing.

Tine Thing Helseth is already one of the leading trumpet soloists of her generation. Already in her short career Helseth has appeared as a soloist with, amongst others, the Vienna Symphony Orchestra, Vienna Chamber Orchestra, the Zurich Chamber Orchestra, Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra, Ulster Orchestra, Philharmonie Baden-Baden, all the major Norwegian orchestras and further afield with the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra.

More about Tine HERE

13 March 2014

Bay Colony Brass (USA)

Bay Colony Brass is one of the few large brass ensembles (or brass choirs) of its kind in the United States. Composed of twenty players, the group performs a broad range of repertoire spanning five centuries of brass and orchestral music, vocal music, Broadway shows, and even the occasional pop song. They play three sets of concerts a year plus two Christmas programs at various sites in the Boston area. Bay Colony Brass is a volunteer organization and registered 501c3 nonprofit in Massachusetts.

Channing Yu, Music Director
American orchestra and opera conductor Channing Yu begins his first season as Music Director and Conductor of Bay Colony Brass. He is also Music Director of the Mercury Orchestra in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and the national winner of the 2010 American Prize in Orchestral Conducting in the community orchestra division.
He has previously served as Artistic Director and Conductor of the Lowell House Opera, the oldest opera company in New England, where he conducted over thirty fully staged performances with orchestra, including Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin, Richard Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier, Puccini’s Turandot, Verdi’s Otello, and Puccini’s Tosca. For his musical direction of Tosca, he was awarded second prize in the 2011 American Prize in Opera Conducting national competition.

More info HERE

19 February 2014

Copper in the Arts

The Art and History of Brass Musical Instruments

By Donna Dvorak

Through the ages, copper and brass instruments have been used in an assortment of capacities, and are still popular today throughout the world. In the famous Broadway Show The Music Man, its memorable tune "76 Trombones" by Robert Meredith Willson is belted out in a parade with copper and brass musical instruments gleaming like a beautiful sea of copper.

But, what comprises a brass instrument? Anthony Baines, author of European & American Musical Instruments, states that brass instruments are defined as instruments that produce a tone by vibration of the lips as the player blows into a tubular resonator. Also known as labrosones, brass instruments are constructed of brass and other corrosion resistant, easy-to-fabricate copper alloys.

The actual description of brass instruments are dependent on the overtone series first studied and analyzed by the Greek philosopher Pythagoras. A string or vibrating air column in the case of a brass instrument will tend to vibrate at certain frequencies based on the length of the string or tube. The fundamental pitch is the lowest natural note with other possible notes one octave above the fundamental, followed by a perfect fifth, fourth and up. Modern brass instruments usually alter the length of the tubing through valves, including the slide still used by today's trombonists. The Roman Tuba, Lituus and Buccina, and other early brass instruments were made of bronze combined with animal horns, like the Scandinavian lur, and the Roman cornu.

Getzen Brass Instruments: Then and Now

Musical instruments are a long-standing family tradition of the Getzen family that began in 1939 in a converted dairy barn behind their family home in Elkhorn, Wisconsin. Three employees concentrated on band instrument repair and they produced their first trombones in 1946. They're now producers of world-class trumpets, cornets, fluegelhorns, and trombones.

"Now, we make approximately 15,000 instruments a year and we send them all over the world," says Brett Getzen, Special Projects Manager and great-grandson of the founder Anthony James Getzen. "Tony originally worked for another band instrument manufacturer but, in 1939, branched out to start his own company. When he began building horns in the late 1940's, he used a copper trim. Copper has also been used for quite a while to create resonant bells. We have two kinds of copper bells - one made here from copper tubing for the bell and the other kind is electroplated. They take a steel mandrel and plate copper onto that until it's thick enough to break away - and then you have a bell blank. When you create a bell for a trumpet you spin it on a lathe to get the tapered look, and the blank looks like a bell that, at that point, isn't the right size - yet. At that time in the production, it can become several things. One example is several different bells on trumpets. The rate of paper to the bell, the size of the throat and flare determines how the horn sounds and plays, so according to what you're trying to achieve, we make these copper blanks into different bells, depending on how we spin them. The largest copper instrument we have is the trumpet bell. We also use copper in our plating and use copper plate as a basecoat before we do a silver plating. We put a thick layer of copper on before we put the silver on because the copper makes the silver more illustrious and provides a distinguished tone, as well."


18 February 2014

Wisemann Brass Ensemble (China)

The Wisemann Brass Ensemble is an exciting new professional brass ensemble based in Beijing, China and is Asia’s first ever independent professional brass ensemble.
The ensemble features the current and former principal brass players of China's professional orchestras such as the China Philharmonic Orchestra, Beijing Symphony Orchestra, Shanghai Symphony Orchestra, China Central Opera Orchestra, and China National Centre for the Performing Arts Orchestra. 
Wisemann offer several ensemble formations to suit all occasions. The quintet consists of 2 trumpets, french horn, trombone, and tuba and has a wide repertoire of music ranging from Jazz and Popular to Classical and Contemporary. The trio consists of trumpet, trombone and tuba and is very well suited to performing Jazz and Latin music as well as popular classical repertoire.
More info HERE

04 February 2014

Paul Higgs (UK) new CD Pavane

Celebrated trumpeter and composer Paul Higgs has created many albums throughout his time as
a successful musician, but this is his first to blend the genres of classical and jazz music. Paul
has never felt restricted by musical boundaries and wanted to make “an album that combined the
freedom of jazz with the rich sonorities of classical music”. Pavane presents pieces in song form
in a classical style with an emphasis on melody and counterpoint.
The jazz ensemble featured on the album is complemented by a string section with classical
guitar, and highlighted by the melodious sounds of a cello. Paulʼs trumpet flows throughout with a
voice that is in turn seductive, playful and intriguing. His consummate skill and seemingly
effortless technique produce a sound of unearthly beauty. In Pavane he presents an infinitely
varied world expressed through melody, atmosphere and sensitivity. Each piece shows us a new
soundscape, and the exquisite sound of his trumpet transports us through each one in turn, with
the romantic grandeur of a film score.
“Paul Higgs is one of the most gifted composers and musicians. I'm very proud to see the
success he's currently enjoying.” Bill Ashton OBE, Musical Director, NYJO. As a young man Paul
Higgs was already renowned for his skill, and worked with luminaries such as Peggy Lee, Buddy
Greco, Rosemary Clooney (indeed – George Clooneyʼs aunt) and John Williams. Paul toured with
the much-loved Norman Wisdom and Bob Monkhouse. As a composer, he has written a
commission for the Proms, has had music published by Oxford University Press and Stanza
Music, and has published music himself. He has also written music for film, TV and radio, as well
as theatre.
“Paul Higgs is a world-class composer and trumpet player, and this collection conclusively proves
the point!” Digby Fairweather: BBC presenter (Radio 2 and 3), and jazz trumpeter.

More information about Higgs HERE. His Pavane CD and digital download tracks from that recording are available at online sales sites such as CDbaby, Amazon, iTunes, eMusic, Rhapsody and many others.

24 January 2014

The Bull Horns (Austria)

No, not the march or folk music. The Bull Horns blowing rock and roll classics. The Bull Horns give the Beatles, AC / DC, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple, a new sound as you've never heard it. And it joins jazz superstar James Morrison for four album tracks. The fresh sound is so far away from their important roots in the provinces, such as the electric guitars, sax, trumpet, trombone and tuba. Only the drums are somehow a connection between old school rock and daring, successful transposition of Brass clichés and present to the Brass future.