Rochester, NY — For more than four decades, the acclaimed Eastman Brass — described by the Los Angeles Times as displaying “stylish elegance, flawless intonation, remarkable accuracy, and ensemble precision that rivals that of any string quartet” — has impressed and delighted audiences throughout the world with its varied and imaginative repertoire. Now, this renowned Eastman School of Music brass faculty quintet has released Calls and Echoes (CD 1001) on the School’s Eastman in Concert label, bringing some of its first-rate music — and music-making — to disc.
Eastman Brass members James Thompson and Doug Prosser (trumpet), John Marcellus (trombone), Peter Kurau (horn) and Don Harry (tuba) perform works arranged or written by Eastman Professor Emeritus Verne Reynolds, a highly regarded hornist, conductor, composer, and founding member of Eastman Brass. Repertoire includes arrangements of three well-known works in the string repertoire by Rossini (Divertimento), Mendelssohn (String Quartet in E-flat Major, Op. 12), and Shostakovich (Quartet No. 12 in D-flat Major, Op. 133). Reynolds gets his share of the limelight in his own 1984 work, Calls and Echoes, from which the CD gets its name. Written for then-Eastman Brass members, trumpeters Barbara Butler and Charles Geyer, the title refers to an early function of brass instruments, when forerunners of the modern trumpet were used as outdoor signaling devices for the hunt or the military. The players are invited to perform these calls and echoes from several different locations on the stage, and at various spacings.
The repertoire on the new disc reflects the passion of this specialized chamber music ensemble. “We continue to embrace the traditions of the Eastman School of Music as ‘keepers of the flame,’ and present quality repertoire which is challenging to listener and performer alike,” explains hornist Peter Kurau. “We hope that music of such intrinsic merit yields a provocative, lasting impression, and speaks to the depth of one’s soul.”
Since its formation in 1961, Eastman Brass has dedicated itself to the enrichment of the genre through the performance, research, commissioning, transcription, recording and publication of quality brass chamber music repertoire. The ensemble has toured throughout North and South America, appearing on many important concert series including New York’s Alice Tully and Merkin Hall, Chicago’s Orchestra Hall and Houston’s Stude Concert Hall, and in Central and South America (under the auspices of the U. S. Department of State). Eastman Brass also has toured in Israel and performed at the Lieksa Brass Festival in Finland. The group has been featured at numerous professional conventions including the International Women’s Brass Conference, International Horn Society, International Trumpet Guild, International Trombone Association and at leading universities throughout the United States. In 1989, Eastman Brass was featured on the popular CBS Sunday Morning with Charles Kurault, and was the subject of a 13-part series on American Public Radio — the first series of its kind.
Collectively, Eastman Brass members bring vast international solo and orchestral experience to the group. Principal positions have been held with the National, Atlanta, Montreal, and Barcelona Symphony Orchestras; Rochester, Colorado, and Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestras; the Orchestra of the State of Mexico; and the National Symphony of Mexico. The members can be heard in orchestral and solo works on London/Decca, Telarc, Chandos, Angel, and Mark Records.
Calls and Echoes is available at www.cdstreet.com/artists/eastmaninconcert, or in the Rochester area at the Eastman School Bookstore (25 Gibbs Street). The CD retails for $15.
For more information on the Eastman School, visit www.rochester.edu/Eastman.