Last night was a wonderful evening of music at the Owego-Apalachin Middle School. The Dallas Brass, after a day of workshops and practicing with the music students at O-A Schools – the middle school and high school are next to each other, possibly even connected, played a concert by themselves and then, one song each with the middle and the high school bands.
My 14 year old was enthralled with the music. His comment this morning was that the music was 3/4 of the fun. The commentary and performance – both acting and singing – by the members of Dallas Brass were the other 1/4. By being aware that the audience contained students as young as 12 and some siblings that are younger, Dallas Brass founding member Michael Levine – who is the director and emcee of the group – kept the information to a school-aged level. He included some shenanigans that kept everyone’s attention through almost 90 minutes of music. He also included some information about the various instruments being used so everyone knew that that small trumpet was a piccolo trumpet.
Selections, which were announced from the stage, ranged from one of John Williams’ first pieces for soundtrack – “The Cowboys,” from the movie of the same name – to Henry Mancini’s “Pink Panther” to a jazz interpretation on the french horn of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” Most of the pieces played, or should I say experienced by the audience, at last night’s concert are featured on the CD American Musical Journey.
For the audience’s pleasure – and possibly for the band’s pleasure also, the group sat down and did a piece called “Hands.” This piece featured no instruments as we normally think of them. The instruments were, aptly, the hands of the group.
Last night’s audience was treated to a guest trumpeter – Dr. Frank Campos, a professor at Ithaca College and a founding member of Dallas Brass. To allow for a third trumpet, Dallas Brass played “Carnival Variation,” an arrangement of Francisco Tarrega’s “Carnival of Venice” written specifically for three trumpets.
The audience also experienced several solo moments, including “Xylophonium” performed by Jeff Handel, the group percussionist. Nat McIntosh, sousaphone, played an original piece that included the technique called multiphonics. I am sure John Philip Sousa never anticipated the instrument that bares his name would sound this way.
On top of putting on an almost hour and a half show, the group members were available after the show for autographs. They signed for at least thirty minutes, if not longer. What a wonderful gift to be musically inclined and to help encourage our kids in their music at the same time.
My kids and I are closely looking at the tour schedule to see when Dallas Brass will be back in the area as they were great and we would love to see them again.