Luther College Chips

Luther brass ensembles take the stage

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The Brass Choir performs “Out of the Depths I Cry to Thee: Thematic Transformations for Brass Choir,” which was written and conducted by Associate Professor of Music Michael Smith.

The Brass Choir performs “Out of the Depths I Cry to Thee: Thematic Transformations for Brass Choir,” which was written and conducted by Associate Professor of Music Michael Smith.

Cara Keith (‘21) | Chips

Cara Keith (‘21) | Chips

The Brass Choir performs “Out of the Depths I Cry to Thee: Thematic Transformations for Brass Choir,” which was written and conducted by Associate Professor of Music Michael Smith.

Cara Keith, Staff Writer

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The Brass Choir, Horn Ensemble, Tuba and Euphonium Ensemble, Trombone Choir, and Trumpet Ensemble performed the Brass Ensembles Concert on Nov. 8.

The concert began with the Brass Choir, which is comprised of the brass players in Concert Band and a few extra players when necessary. The Brass Choir performed “Out of Depths I Cry to Thee: Thematic Transformations for Brass Choir.” Associate Professor of Music Michael Smith arranged this piece for the Reformation service earlier this year and conducted the piece at the Brass Ensembles Concert.

After the Brass Choir performed, the Horn Ensemble performed under the direction of Adjunct Faculty in Music Rebecca Boehm Schaffer. The Horn Ensemble performed three songs during the concert: “Bells!” by James Naigus, “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” by Johann Sebastian Bach, and “Portraits of the American West I. Santa Fe Trail – 1826” by James A. Beckel Jr. During their performance of “Bells!,” the Horn Ensemble mimicked the sounds of bells through their accented notes.

Horn Ensemble member Kyli Kurtenbach (‘21) explained how the timing of the Horn Ensemble’s rehearsals led to difficulties in preparing for the concert.

“We meet on Tuesdays, which gave us a little bit of a challenge with having Fall Break fall over a Tuesday as well as the Reformation,” Kurtenbach said. “So we had to do a lot of individual practice, too. When we practiced as a group, we had to focus a lot of getting the right style and playing together so that it would all come together really well.”

Smith conducted the Tuba and Euphonium Ensemble portion of the concert. They performed “Tubaphonium” by Zach Collins, “Beast!” by Greg Danner, and “Rolling Thunder” by Henry Fillmore, arranged by Steven Cross. During “Beast!,” the musicians clapped, rubbed their nails against their instruments, and chanted different phrases, including the word “beast” in order to create an upbeat and eerie mood for the piece.

Member of Tuba and Euphonium Ensemble Devin Hanggi (‘18) described the difficult process of choosing music for the Tuba and Euphonium ensemble.

“We don’t have that wide range of instruments so we don’t have the big, twinkling flute lines,” Hanggi said. “We play a lot more Renaissance and medieval Baroque music just because that’s what’s written for Tuba and Euphonium choirs. There’s not a lot of stuff specifically written for us.”

After the Tuba and Euphonium performance, the Trombone Choir performed “Trinity” by Jerome Naulais, “Scarborough Fair” arranged by Bill Reichenbach, and “Mojave Cadillac” by Frank Gulino. Smith conducted the first and last song, and student conductor Christopher O’Connell (‘18) conducted “Scarborough Fair.”

The Trombone Choir incorporated three instruments other than trombone into their performance: organ, bass guitar, and drums. Professor of Music and College Organist Gregory Peterson (‘83) also accompanied the Trombone Choir in “Trinity.” In “Mojave Cadillac,” students Brennen Schedler (‘21) and Joshua Tank (‘20) accompanied the Trombone Choir on drums and bass guitar, respectively, to give the performance a jazz style.

The last group to perform was the Trumpet Ensemble, conducted by Assistant Professor of Music John Cord. This group performed “Celebratory Fanfare” by David Dzubay, “Ice Town” by Mike D’Ambrosio, “Salute” by Leslie Bassett, and “Neon Fanfare” by Elaine M. Ross. The Trumpet Ensemble featured multiple fanfare pieces, a common style for trumpet.

Smith described how the brass ensemble concert came about.

“I created this venue back in 2002 or 2003,” Smith said. “It was primarily a community thing. The size of the program here really lends itself to segregation because you have ensembles and students [who] don’t know students from other ensembles. It was also about recruiting. When you have these Luther students that perform off-campus or on-campus, other students see the performances and want to be a part of something special.”

Concert attendee Natalie Polak (‘21) enjoyed the connection that the musicians had to both each other and their directors.

“My favorite part was seeing the ensemble members smiling and laughing after the director did something silly,” Polak said. “It showed that they had a lot of fun playing together.”

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