Chamber Musicians offer brass holiday show
By Annie Alleman For Sun-Times Media December 1, 2011 12:48PM
Barbara Butler (trumpet), Charles Geyer (trumpet) and Gail Williams (horn) are members of Chicago Chamber Musicians. Peter Ellefson (trombone) and Randy Montgomery (tuba) are guest artists. | Courtesy of CCM
Chicago Chamber Musicians Brass Ensemble
♦ Dec. 9
♦ Wentz Concert Hall, 171 E. Chicago Ave., Naperville
♦ Tickets, reduced to $5
♦ (630) 637-7469
Updated: May 9, 2012 10:04AM
The Chicago Chamber Musicians brass ensemble brings a program rich in early music and holiday melodies to Naperville.
Charles Geyer, CCM’s new artistic co-director and trumpet player, said that the CCM brass will perform a broad range of classical music styles and showcase Christmas compositions at 8 p.m. Dec. 9 at North Central College’s Wentz Concert Hall.
The performance will feature Chicago Chamber Musicians brass members Barbara Butler and Geyer on trumpet, Gail Williams on horn, Matthew Gaunt on tuba and Michael Mulcahy on trombone. They will be joined by cellist Clancy Newman and violinist Jasmine Lin.
The evening starts off with Austrian composer Isaac Posch’s “Two Galliards.”
“Five brass players will play that opening piece, sort of as a prelude or fanfare-ish way to make it a more festive start to the program,” he said.
Next, two trumpets, a violin and cello will come out on stage, including Geyer and his wife, Butler. They will play a “very flashy piece” by Johann Vierdanck called Capriccio No. 2.
“It was written for a predecessor of the trumpet, the cornetto. It’s an itty-bitty thing. It’s black and has holes; it’s played sort of like a flute but it has a trumpet mouthpiece on it,” he said.
They will be playing piccolo trumpets.
Offstage, a horn will be on one side and a trombone will be on the other. Each will play a short piece of a Gregorian chant, the text of which will be in the program.
“It’s basically one of the mass that was sung in the Catholic Church on the day of Christmas,” he said. “It starts with the horn and ends with the trombone, and then they … join together. That will be very cool after hearing trumpets straight at them.”
The next piece is by Michael Praetorius called “Vom Himmel Hoch” or, “From Heaven on High,” and will be played by the violin and cello. As they finish, the horn and trombone will walk onstage and play a piece by Orlando De Lassus called “Sicut Rosa.”
“It’s appropriate for the holiday season,” he said. “It was a two-part voice piece played by horn and trombone and it’s quite beautiful. It’s a different sound and the audience will love this set.”
They follow that with Canzon I (“La Spiritata.”)
“Visually and sound-wise, it will be very contrasting,” he said. “Nothing is very long. They’re all short and very different. It’s all early music.”
The first half of the program ends Maurice Ravel’s Sonata for Violin and Cello.
The second half of the concert features three pieces of Christmas music, opening with John Harbison’s Two Chorale Preludes for Advent.
Next, North Central College president Harold Wilde joins in on “Three Wise Men.”
“He will narrate the ‘Three Wise Men,’ also by Harbison,” Geyer said. “We play a piece that almost sounds like you can … see three guys riding on camels going through the desert. As soon as we end that opening movement, there’s a text that talks about the story right out of the Bible, when the three wise men came and then they went to find Herod because they were trying to follow the star. It’s very vivid to the audience. It’s wonderful.”
Then the concert ends with a traditional performance of “Twelve Days of Christmas” played by the five brass.
“It’s predominantly CCM brass with a couple things done by the strings, which gives it a nice balance and a little bit of chance for a sonar respite from the brass,” he said.
“It’s going to be a very festive performance,” he said. “Brass is a very enriching kind of sound … the best thing you can possibly do for a Christmas program,” he said. “It’s very fitting.”