Boston Brass brings classical class to Grass Valley |

Boston Brass brings classical class to Grass Valley

Tom Durkin
Special to Prospector

The Boston Brass blows into Grass Valley this weekend for a Sunday matinee performance at the Seventh Day Adventist Church at 12889 Osborne Hill Road.

Presented as part of InConcert Sierra's Third Sunday chamber series, the renowned quintet has performed in 49 states and 30 countries in their storied, 27-year career.

Boston Brass is comprised of five highly diverse, master musicians, each who has an impressive solo career in his own right. Jeff Conner, on trumpet, is the only original member of the group. Jose Sibaja joins Conner on trumpet.

Chris Castellanos, Domingo Pagliuca and Sam Pilafian round out the group on French horn, trombone and tuba respectively.

The group is not only known for its for virtuosity, but also for their lively interactions with the audience, making even serious classical music more accessible to people of all ages, according to Julie Hardin, executive director of InConcert Sierra.

"They are seriously committed to music education," she added.

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The doctor is in

InConcert Sierra is also committed to fostering classical musical education, Hardin said.

That's why before virtually every InConcert performance, Aileen James hosts an informative pre-concert forum with the performers – and the audience.

An InConcert board member since 1998, James holds a Doctorate of Musical Arts in Performance Practices from Stanford University, and she is an enthusiastic, engaging teacher.

Before the concert begins, James will convene members of the Boston Brass onstage at 1:15 p.m.

"I want them to show the audience how hard these instruments actually are to play," she said. "These are not easy instruments."

James said the forum with the Boston Brass should be exceptional, because "they're really into music education."

According to the quintet's website, they have taught master classes from The Julliard School in New York to the Royal Academy of Music in London to the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory at the National University of Singapore.

After an initial discussion with the members of the group, James invites the audience into the discussion, so that by the time the performance begins, "it feels like company," she said.

Although it is Easter and the performance is in a church, Hardin reported the concert is secular. Furthermore, she noted that Seventh-day Adventists worship on Saturday, which is fortunate, because the church is reputed to have the best acoustics of any venue in the area.

No blare zone

Although the Boston Brass can blast out jazz and blues with the best of them, in keeping with InConcert's mission of preserving classical musical in the foothills, Sunday's program is mostly classical with a touch of Gershwin.

In truth, very little music is written for the brass quintet. Most chamber music is written for woodwinds, strings or voice. Therefore, the Boston Brass does quite a few of its own arrangements, James said

They will, however, play the first piece ever written specifically for a brass quintet, she promised.

The program includes:

— Turina's "Danza Fantastica"

— de Falla's "Fire Dance"

— J.S. Bach's "Wachet Auf"

— Piazzolla's "Primavera Porteña," "Verano Porteña," and "Libertango"

— Kabalevesky's "Romeo & Juliet"

— Bernstein's "One Hand One Heart"

— Ewald's "Quintet No. 1"

— Gershwin's "Summertime" and

— Campra's "Rigaudon."

As a special attraction, InConcert Sierra Artistic Director Ken Hardin will accompany the quintet on "Rigaudon" on the church's organ.

Paying it forward

Another mission of InConcert Sierra is to foster the next generation of classical musicians.

Each year, the nonprofit foundation gives a $1,000 scholarship to a deserving teen musician.

This year, Hardin announced they are awarding three more $500 scholarships due to the generosity of an anonymous donor.

Toby Thomas-Rose is the recipient of the 2014 Spring Teen Scholarship $1,000 Award, Hardin said. A junior at Nevada Union High School, Thomas-Rose has studied piano for 15 years. His goal is to become a concert pianist and composer.

He will use his scholarship to attend the summer session for piano students at Adamant Music College in Vermont, Hardin said.

The three winners of the $500 scholarships are Braedon Ames (flute, piccolo, mallets), Alec Brown, (flute), and Elliott Kramer (trumpet).

Ken Hardin and Susan Duey, scholarship chairperson, will meet with each student, their respective teachers and parents to help determine their most immediate needs to purchase lessons, training experiences or a new instrument.

InConcert Sierra's roots go back to 1946 and the Twin Cities Concert Association. Over the years, it has evolved its own niche in the pantheon of arts and entertainment organizations in Nevada County. InConcert continues to excel in bringing world-class musicians into an intimate setting for a far better audience experience than could be obtained in a metropolitan concert hall.

Tom Durkin is a freelance writer and photographer in Nevada City. He can be contacted at

Know & Go

WHAT: InConcert Sierra presents the Boston Brass

WHERE: Seventh-day Adventist Church, 12889 Osborne Hill Road, Grass Valley

WHEN: Sunday, April 20; 1:15 p.m. pre-concert forum, 2 p.m. concert

ADMISSION: $30 general admission; youth 5-17 with an adult

TICKETS: BriarPatch Co-op or and at the door (if not sold out)

MORE INFORMATION: 530-273-3990 or

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