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The Chicago Brass Quintet plays on stage at the Sharon Kay Dean Recital Hall on Friday, Sep. 7. Antara Das

Award-winning brass quintet graces McCray stage

The Chicago Brass Quintet made the Sharon Kay Dean Recital Hall their own during the first concert of the Solo Chamber Music Series Friday, Sept. 7. 

The group has performed together for over 40 years and given concerts in Europe, Asia, and South America, in addition to their numerous performances in the United States. The quintet is based out of Chicago and its members each have their own careers as soloists and teachers.  

The concert music was split into two halves. Before intermission, the quintet wanted to “bring something to brighten the day,” according to trumpet Ross Beacraft. They played music from “sunny Italy,” ranging from opera arias to film music all by Italian composers. After intermission, the group took a foray into the music of twentieth century and contemporary music. 

Beacraft noted that as a musiscian, along with practicing for hours a day, to also “to keep your options open.” 

“Find something you love to do, run with it, but also leave room for the other stuff,” Beacraft said. “Enjoy your friends, enjoy your colleagues, and learn from each other. Embrace all the beauty there is in this life.” 

In addition to playing in the Chicago Brass Quintet, Beacraft also performs regularly with the Chicago Opera Theater and is director of admissions at the DePaul University School of Music in Chicago. 

“It’s really about the passion, to know that you want to do this.” Beacraft said. “You’ve also got to have a bit of talent to get you through, and great discipline. I practice every day. I never miss and many times it is many hours a day.”  

Beacraft said the key to music is “always learning, always stretching, and always trying to get better.” Though, Beacraft was not the only member of the quintet who exhibited enthusiam about the music they played. 

“It’s about victory,” said Sharon Jones, french horn, before they played an arrangement of “Nessun Dorma” by Giacomo Puccini. Jones also mentioned how the piece, originally an opera aria, is not a love song as “popularly believed,” but instead a song of triumph. 

Music majors are required to attend the Solo Chamber Music Series, but that doesn’t mean they don’t enjoy the evening. 

“I use it as a date night,” said Daulton Edwards, junior in music education. “It’s just nice to get out of the house and see a free concert. I get free tickets and I can get her a free ticket.” 

Edwards added that the quintet “played with personality.” 

“You come to the concert thinking the stereotypical boring classical concert, but they keep finding ways to keep the pieces interesting,” he said. “They don’t just stand up there and play.” 

The concert was not Edwards’ first experience with brass ensemble music, though. He said he also saw a community brass ensemble perform with the university Symphonic Band last spring. 

“These are truly professionals in their fields, I read that these players are principal chairs in Chicago symphonies, and it shows,” Edwards said. “It’s inspiring as a training college musician to get to see these career professionals perform.” 

The Solo Chamber Music Series will continue with the Russian Renaissance concert Friday, Oct 5 then soprano Marguerite Krull Friday, Nov 9. 


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