Lined in a single row, facing the audience together the IU Jacobs School of Music’s Brass Choir prepared for its introductory piece on the evening of Oct. 13 in Auer Hall.
The night’s repertoire consisted of “Commemorative Fanfare” by Mike Forbes, “Liturgical Symphony” by Fisher Tull, “Mutations from Bach” by Samuel Barber and “Symphony for Brass and Percussion” by Alfred Reed. The ensemble is conducted by Demondrae Thurman, a professor of euphonium at the JSoM. Thurman will return with another brass ensemble, the Brass Band, Dec. 2. The band will include cornets and tenor horns which were not present in the Brass Choir.
The instrumentation of a brass choir typically consists of the brass and percussion instruments found in a wind ensemble or symphony orchestra. This is made up of an arrangement of horns, trumpets, euphoniums, tubas, trombones, a bass trombone, timpani and various percussion instruments.
Thurman explained that conducting rehearsals for an ensemble that has primarily brass instrumentation is unique because the musicians cannot physically practice for great lengths of time. The sound of an instrument in the brass family is produced by the buzzing of the musican’s lips on the mouthpiece of the instrument. If done for longer lengths of time, this can be taxing for the musician. For this reason, the choir took a brief intermission following the performance of Tull’s “Liturgical Symphony”.
“I challenge all of the musicians,” Thurman said in reference to the extra strain. “We get enough done without the horn being on the face for too long.”
While the ensemble only has two instrument families, the concert exhibited several varied styles in the performance. Several selections of mutes were used to create different dynamics in the sound throughout the concert and specifically in solos.
Before the performance of the final piece by Reed, Thurman shared his gratitude to work with pieces that he had a sense of familiarity for.
“This is some of my favorite music, period,” Thurman said, and the ensemble continued with a percussive beat.