One of the things that instantly signals the sounds of the season is a brass quintet. So we are super excited to welcome the Monumental Brass Quintet at our next concert — SOUNDS OF THE SEASON, 7:30 pm, Saturday, December 14 at Providence Presbyterian Church.
In addition to sharing the stage with guest musicians, we love getting to know them a bit before the first rehearsal. So we did a quick Q&A with the Quintet. Answering on their behalf is trombonist, Greg Freeman, who took a moment to educate us on the importance of “hot air.”
VCS: It’s the most wonderful time of the year for a brass quintet — true or false?
GF: True, we are typically quite busy, but we love performing and brass music is highlighted this time of year, so it is a great time of year for brass players. I have always loved listening to Christmas music, and now I get to play it, which is even better!
VCS: Seriously, though — for a lot of folks nothing says holiday or Christmas music quite like brass. You’re probably super busy this time of year. How do you manage it all?
GF: We certainly strive to say “yes” to all of the holiday performances which we are offered, but it is important to also keep time in our schedules to spend time with family and rest. We not only need to practice our craft on our instruments, but we also strive to maintain balance in our lives.
VCS: What does cold weather do to the instruments?
GF: Cold weather typically makes brass instruments go a bit flat. Fortunately we are masters of blowing hot air into them, so once we have played them for a few minutes, the pitch finds its way back to normal. While extreme cold is not good for brass instruments, we don’t have to worry nearly as much as string players do as their instruments can actually crack in extreme temperatures.
VCS: What does the cold weather do the musicians?! No really, how do you all take care of yourselves and your musical health at this time of year?
GF: It can certainly be a difficult time of year with winter arriving and so many activities going on. There have been several years during which I came down with a cold on Christmas day or very close to it, but I seem to have had better luck with this in recent years. We must try to achieve balance like I mentioned, eat healthy, and get plenty of rest. Also, though sometimes a challenge, we must make time for regular practice on our instruments in addition to the many performances we do. It’s important to maintain the musical fundamentals on our instruments so we can continue to play our best and bring the quality brass sounds people love to hear.
VCS: What is your favorite piece of music to perform together and why?
GF: This is a tough question as I love much of the music we play, but I really like a couple of the Christmas arrangements we play by the great Sam Pilafian. He was a legendary tuba player and educator who just passed away this year. His arrangements of “O Come All Ye Faithful” and “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” have some unexpected harmonies and even jazz rhythms that make the standard great carols fresh and new.
VCS: What are you most looking forward to at your concert with VCS?
GF: The vast majority of our performances throughout the year are done with just our quintet, which is certainly fun, but I always love performing with choir. I have not yet performed the Gloria In Excelsis Deo by Kevin Memley and I am looking forward to that. In addition, I have known Mike Horanski for several years as we both teach music at the same school, and I am very excited to collaborate with him in a professional setting for the first time.
VCS: You have a great website. But is there anything else you’d like us and our audience to know about the Monumental Brass Quintet?
GF: As committed as we are to performing quality music at a high level, we are equally passionate about education. All of us teach in some capacity, and collectively we have held many educational events over the years, perhaps highlighted by our annual Summer Brass Institute each June, which is a week-long event for brass players age 8-18. This is a wonderful opportunity for young brass players to study, rehearse, and perform great brass music during Summer break. We feel it is not only our duty, but also our privilege to share the love and knowledge of music that we have acquired over the years with the next generation of brass players. In addition, so many of the lessons involved with studying a brass instrument apply to many other areas of life, and working hard to be a better musician typically builds character and hones skills that will make students successful in any career they choose to pursue.
VCS: What is a thing each of you says to yourself or thinks as you’re about to take the stage?
GF: I usually try to remember that is a blessing and a privilege for me to have the chance to perform, and that once I take the stage, I have the opportunity to brighten at least one person’s day in the audience, perhaps more. That helps calm any nerves, keeps me focused, and perhaps most importantly brings deep meaning to what I’m doing.
VCS: Finally, Star Wars Imperial March vs Hawaii Five-0 theme as a way to announce yourselves to the room. Discuss.
GF: Well, I’m a trombone player, so I’d have to go with Star Wars every time. I might choose the Opening Theme over the Imperial March as it is a little less ominous, but throughout history the trombone has been used to signify evil, or to accompany bad things happening, and the Imperial March certainly embodies that! It certainly grabs everyone’s attention!
We sing SOUNDS OF THE SEASON, 7:30 pm, Saturday, December 14 at Providence Presbyterian Church and share the stage with the Monumental Brass Quintet and the Robinson Singers from Robinson Secondary School.
Tickets are on sale online until 11:55 pm, Friday, December 13, 2019.
They will be available on show night at the door – box office opens at 6:45 pm, doors open at 7:15 pm.
Tickets are $25/Adults, $20/Seniors(65+) and Students (15 – 18).
Season tickets are also available – $85/Adults, $75/Seniors and Students.
Youth age 14 and younger attend FREE.