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Saturday, March 25, 2023 at 7:30 PM
Pre-concert talk begins at 7:00 PM
First United Methodist Church of Oak Ridge
1350 Oak Ridge Turnpike

Tickets at

Image removed.Seraph Brass was founded by trumpet soloist Mary Elizabeth Bowden with the mission of elevating and showcasing the excellence of female brass players and highlighting musicians from marginalized groups both in personnel and in programming. Winners of the 2019 American Prize in Chamber Music, Seraph Brass is a dynamic ensemble drawing from a roster of America’s top brass players. Committed to engaging audiences with captivating programming, Seraph Brass presents a diverse body of repertoire that includes original transcriptions, newly commissioned works and well-known classics.  Their Oak Ridge concert includes music by Edvard Grieg, Giuseppe Verdi, Gioacchino Rossini, Clara Schumann, and Franz Liszt, in addition to living composers Kevin Day, Kevin McKee, David Chesky, Grigoraș Dinicu, Reena Esmail, Catherine McMichael, and Anthony DiLorenzo.  Quintet members are Mary Elizabeth Bowden, Raquel Samayoa, Rachel Velvikis, Victoria Garcia, and Cristina Cutts Dougherty.  Seraph Brass is in residency at the Walton Art Center’s Artosphere Festival.  (Photo credit Lisa-Marie Mazzucco.)

Seraph ProgramSeraph Program

Program Notes by Ashley Killam

 Holberg Suite, Edvard Grieg (arr. Jeff Luke)


Originally composed for piano and later adapted for string orchestra, Grieg’s Holberg Suite was commissioned in celebration to commemorate the birth of Ludvig Baron Holberg. Subtitled “Suite in olden style,” this five-movement suite is based on eighteenth-century dance forms, tributing to the form of a French Baroque style. It is an early essay in neoclassicism, attempting to echo the styles and forms of the past century. The full suite contains the prelude, sarabande, gavotte, air, and rigaudon, bridging a gap between traditional baroque structure and the current Romantic sounds of his time.


Sempre Libera from La Traviata, Giuseppe Verdi (arr. Jeff Luke)

“Sempre Libera” or “Always free” is a duet from Verdi’s opera La Traviata. The Italian opera, set in mid-19th century Paris, centers around Violetta Valéry and Alfredo Germont. After having considered herself incapable of true love, Violetta falls in love with Alfredo, who has loved her from afar for a while. The two live in the country until she is visited by his father, insisting Violetta give Alfredo up. The two are separated for a while, living their own individual lives, with Alfredo furious at her, and not knowing of his father’s insistence for the separation. After a dramatic confrontation, time away abroad, and learning of the role his father had in their separation, Alfredo returns to Violetta, where the two have a brief reunion before Violetta’s death.

In this particular scene, Violetta (depicted by the trumpet) throws a party, in which she is pursued by Alfredo (performed by the french horn) who professes his love for her. Once she is away from guests, she laughs off the idea of true love and vows to live for pleasure. She hears him singing and is met with conflicted emotions about wanting to be free to live her life and wondering about the potential connection with Alfredo.


La Danza, “Tarantella Napolentana,” Gioacchino Rossini (arr. James Markey/Raquel Samayoa)

La Danza (Dance) is a fast-paced song included in Rossini’s series Les Soirées Musicales. Les Soirées Musicales is a collection of 12 songs that showcase a range of styles and dances. La Danza is known as a patter song, which is characterized as something with a fast tempo where each syllable of text corresponds to a note - this often appears in comic operas and musicals. “Tarantella Napolentana” showcases the tarantella dance as it was associated with Naples, and common tarantella napolentana riffs often appear in media as something that is “quintessentailly Italian.”


Fantasia III, Kevin Day 

I. Promenade

II. Lunaire

III. Flamagra

“Fantasia III is my first composition written for brass quintet, divided into three contrasting movements that showcase the medium’s virtuosic and musical playing in various styles.

The first movement Promenade is based on my experience playing in brass quintet ensembles on tuba when I was younger. The movement is reminiscent of two pieces that I played quite a bit, Procession of the Nobles by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, and Arthur Frackenpohl’s Brass Quintet.

Movement two is entitled Lunaire and is derived in name only from Arnold Schoenberg’s chamber work Pierrot Lunaire. This movement serves as a lyrical nocturne for the brass quintet to flow musically, depicting the peaceful essence of watching the moon glow at night.

The final movement of Fantastia III is entitled Flamagra and is named after an album by one of my favorite producers and artists, Flying Lotus. With that album dealing with a fire-like concept, this movement depicts a burning energy that moves, reacts, and explodes very quickly, serving as a closer to the entire composition.”


Drei Romanzen, Op. 22, Clara Schumann (arr. Noah Dugan)

  1. Andante molto

Drei Romanzen consist of three romances, originally written for violin and piano and arranged to feature tuba with brass quintet, were written in 1853 by Clara Schumann. Schumann was known for her abilities as a performer, but was also an accomplished educator and composer as well. This trio of romances were among the last pieces she ever wrote. Drei Romanzen was dedicated to Schumann’s close friend and violin virtuoso, Joseph Joachim, and was a work the two often performed together while touring. The first movement, Andante molto, is built on an emotional melodic framework, building and developing on a central theme throughout the romance. The movement centers around the passion and dialogue between violin and piano, or in Seraph Brass’s case, tuba and quartet.


Hungarian Rhapsody, No. 2, Franz Liszt (arr. Jeff Luke)

Liszt composed 19 Hungarian Rhapsodies between 1851 and 1886, all originally written for solo piano, with a few also appearing for orchestra. Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 is known as the most famous of the Liszt rhapsodies, with immediate success following its original performances in the 1800s. The success led to arrangements for orchestra, piano duet, and in much more recent years, other chamber ensembles like the brass quintet. Breaking from the pattern of a dark and somber tone of many of Liszt’s rhapsodies, No. 2 takes the shape of a friska, or the fast section of the Hungarian folk dance csárdás. This energetic melody is catchy and seen in animated cartoons like Tom and Jerry, Buggs Bunny, The Muppet Show, and Sesame Street.


Vuelta del Fuego, Kevin McKee

“The idea for Vuelta del Fuego came from a love of that Mexican "Zorro" sound that mixes over-the-top romance with unabashed flair and swagger.  I wrote this piece for a group that I played in at the time, the Continuum Brass Quintet, which was made up of some of the best musicians with whom I've ever played.”


Central Park Morning, David Chesky

Written for the Empire Brass Quintet, Central Park Morning is a quiet, reflective work, portraying a morning walk in New York’s Central Park. The work offers some introspection and a moment of piece amidst the neverending sounds of life.


Hora Staccato, Grigoraș Dinicu (arr. Tim Olt)

Originally a virtuosic showpiece for violin, Tim Olt arranged Dinicu’s Hora Staccato to feature the trumpet. It is a fast-paced work written in a Romanian hora style, and requires significant technical precision for any soloist performing it. Hora Staccato has become a favorite across a range of instruments and ensembles, having been arranged for solo instruments through full symphonic orchestras.


Tuttarana, Reena Esmail

“The title of this piece is a conglomeration of two words: the Italian word ‘tutti’, means ‘all’ or ‘everyone’, and the term ‘tarana’ designates a specific Hindustani (North Indian) musical form, whose closest Western counterpart is the ‘scat’ in jazz. Made up of rhythmic syllables, a tarana is the singer’s chance to display agility and dexterity. While a Hindustani tarana is a solo form, I wanted to bring the tarana into an ensemble setting.

Tuttarana was commissioned by the Mount Holyoke College Glee Club for their 2014-15 season, and has since been performed across the US, also in arrangements for SATB and brass quintet.

An addendum: Three years after I wrote this piece, the #metoo movement, created by Tarana Burke broke on social media. It occurred to me that the title of this piece, if read a different way, literally means “We are all Tarana.” I couldn’t believe the incredible coincidence that this work, a powerful 3-minute tidal wave of sound, written for an all-female ensemble from the oldest women’s college in the country, bore this name. I’m so grateful for what this movement has done to move the discussion forward about the horrors we face as women, and how we can begin to change and heal our society.”


Asteria, Catherine McMichael

            Virgo, The Lover of Justice

“The ancient word “asteria” has its roots in both Greek and Latin, and refers to stars. The aster flower with its starry petals, Astraea, star maiden goddess of justice (also known as Virgo) and even the six sparkling rays of a star sapphire (asterism) are all linked to the word. Its title serves as a banner for the three constellations portrayed in this suite…Virgo, also known as Ishtar, or Astraea, Lover of Justice, holds the scales of justice (Libra) in her hand.

Seraph Brass is made up of all women, and the composer is a woman; therefore, the constellations chosen as musical portraits were logistically going to be female figures. The timbre of a brass quintet is particularly well suited to the themes of drama, nobility and spectacle featured in this piece.”


Go, Anthony DiLorenzo

“This new Brass Quintet by Anthony DiLorenzo picks up on the high energy, fast pace and brilliant excitement of his “Fire Dance” and takes it to a whole new level! The intensely driving, machine-like compound rhythms are unyielding, making this a great way to begin or end any program.

The Center City Brass Quintet premiered this work in 2009, in the final performances of the late Steven Witser. Composer Anthony DiLorenzo dedicates this piece to his memory, in remembrance of his tireless intensity and positive energy.”


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