Atlantic Brass Quintet Offers Engaging Program


Tina Deng ’21

The Atlantic Brass Quintet performed in Elfers Hall last Friday.

Last Friday, the critically acclaimed Atlantic Brass Quintet performed in Elfers Hall, showcasing pieces vastly different in style, from Baroque to contemporary.

The Atlantic Brass Quintet was founded in 1985 by tubist John Manning, who was later joined by Thomas Bergeron and Tim Leopold on trumpets, Seth Orgel on French horn, and Tim Albright on trombone. Atlantic Brass is one of the most internationally celebrated brass chamber ensembles. In 1992, the Quintet won the “Premier Prix” at the International Brass Competition of Narbonne, France, establishing the company’s preeminence.

Atlantic Brass is known for playing a broad range of styles from over five centuries of music. Mr. Fabio Witkowski, director of the visual and performing arts department, said, “Brass quintets are a very famous formation, equivalent to string quartets or choruses. One thing Atlantic Brass does very well is that they blend different styles; they play pieces by Bach, but then they also do some very contemporary American arrangements and Eastern Europe folk music. That is very unique.”

Prior performers in Elfers have included pianist Leonel Morales, the Emerson String Quartet, and many more. The tradition of inviting musicians to play at the school not only allows students to be inspired by master musicians but also encourages members of the community to develop an interest in new types of music. Mr. Witkowski said, “I think in any concert, [musicians in our community] will get inspired by people playing so well, so they will want to challenge themselves and practice. This time, the brass students took classes with these amazing professionals. I think these concerts are opportunities for people who already like this type of music to come and enjoy, and for people who aren’t familiar with it to come and expand their interest, and knowledge.”

The quintet opened with a Bach French Suite, which was originally written for piano. They then transitioned to American contemporary pieces such as “Declamatory Ascent.” This song is a commentary on the divisive political climate in America. The group finished with three movements of Eastern Europe folk and Balkan dance music. Jack Shrewsbury ’21, a piano student, said, “I’ve never been a big fan of jazz or brass compositions, but I like how this group turned the Bach piece into a more modernized arrangement.”

The Atlantic Brass Quintet received a standing ovation after their performance. French horn student, Rachel Mokriski ’21 said, “The performers were all very passionate and conveyed their emotions to the audience. They taught me in the master class that notes on the page don’t matter as much [as] playing with a group of people. Your specific part doesn’t matter. You want the group as a whole to sound as enjoyable as possible.”