Horns Blazing

Where can you hear the theme songs to Pink Panther, Missions Impossible, and Pirates of the Caribbean played back to back by a classical brass quartet? In none other than Phillips Academy’s Timken Room. The Phillips Academy Music Department had the honor of inviting the Quintessential Brass to perform last Friday. Before a full audience in Timken, the quintet began without any introduction. The first piece was “Fanfare,” written by Paul Dukas, who was also the composer of the theme of the movie Fantasia. As if they played one instrument, the group played with perfect harmony and precise timing. After the introduction piece, the performers introduced themselves and the next piece. Throughout the performance, the audience was awed by the fast finger movements of the trumpet players, Matt Ara and Tom Palance. Nick Gordon ’08 complimented the amazing skills of the quintet, “I was impressed by how fast they could play. As a trumpet player, I can tell that it takes a lot of time, practice and talent to do what they are doing now. Their flexibility of range was phenomenal; they could play really high notes and low notes, and all of them [have the same quality].” The performers later revealed that their skills came from many hours of practicing and performing. Leslie Havens, the director of the group, played both the bass trombone and the tuba, began her career at an early age. She continued throughout school and performed after college with big bands. Ten years ago, she and a few other friends wanted to form a brass quintet to play Christmas music. The group developed into the Quintessential Brass and now, the group is renowned throughout the country. The performance also included the Quintet No. 3 by Victor Ewald, which as Robin Milinazzo (horn) explained, was the equivalent of a Beethoven String quintet to string players. This piece was clearly not a hard piece in technicality, but the difficulty existed in the musical interpretation. The quintet expressed their musicality throughout all four movements of the piece. The concert concluded with theme songs from famous movies, including Pirates of the Caribbean, Who is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe?, Mission Impossible, and others. Finishing with the “Pink Panther Theme,” the quintet players snapped their fingers along with the final beat, bringing the concert to a charismatic end. Beyond the talent of the performers, the mood of the songs and musicality the quartet brought to them made it a remarkable performance.