Best Brass of Summer concert plays this weekend

Mike Easterling
The Best Brass of Summer concert planned for this weekend features the efforts of 11 regional musicians.

FARMINGTON — For the better part of the last decade, local residents Mick Hesse and Connie Schulz have been shepherding a group of regional brass musicians through an annual holiday concert known as the Best Brass of Christmas.

They’ve managed to pull off that performance each year despite the fact the group has the benefit of only a few hours of rehearsal before the show, since its members hail from such far-flung locales as Denver and Albuquerque, in addition to some Four Corners communities.

Now, Hesse and Schulz are doubling down. They’re staging a Best Brass of Summer concert here this weekend as part of the Showcase on Dustin Concert Series at the First Presbyterian Church.

The difficulty of successfully staging such a performance under those circumstances is considerable, Hesse acknowledged, but he said the 11 musicians who make up the group are more than up to the task.

“It’s a challenge, of course, but we try to push the envelope where we can,” Hesse said last week, noting that the group would be getting together only for rehearsals on Friday, June 24 and Saturday, June 25 before the performance.

Best Brass consists of three musicians from the Denver area; one from Durango, Colo.; three from Albuquerque or Santa Fe, and four from the Farmington area, including Hesse and Schulz.

“It’s such an incredible group of players, and we wanted to do something outside of Christmas if we could,” Hesse said. “They all jumped at the chance to do a summertime concert.”

The format for this weekend’s performance will allow the spotlight to shine on each section of the ensemble, which consists of three trumpets, two French horns, three trombones, a tuba, a cornet and a euphonium, which resembles a small tuba. And the music chosen for the program will reflect a lighter, summertime nature

“For lack of a better word, this gives us a chance to show off,” he said.

The trumpet section will perform “The Girl From Chihuahua,” Hesse said, while he and Schulz will deliver a cornet-euphonium duet of “Papageno” from Mozart’s “The Magic Flute.” A tuba solo will focus on a variation of “The Yellow Rose of Texas,” while the trombone section will perform a tour of composer Henry Fillmore’s circus music.

The program also will feature “Water Music” by Handel, some marches by John Philip Sousa, a fugue by Bach and antiphonal music by Gabrieli.

Hesse described the entire program as fun — a word not often associated with brass music.

“It’s nerdy fun,” he said laughing. “From a musician’s standpoint, it’s fun music.”

Hesse acknowledged the difficulty of building a local audience for classical or chamber music.

“There is a limited audience, that’s for sure,” he said. “We’re making an effort with this concert to get people to come out and enjoy it. If they’ve played in band themselves, they will recognize the style of music, especially if they’ve been through public school band programs.”

Best Brass of Summer will feature a casual atmosphere compared to other classical or chamber music concerts, Hesse said, explaining that organizers hope to promote that air with a pre-concert picnic on the lawn at the church where hot dogs and brats from Fabulous Franks of the Four Corners, and Deserts by Katie will be sold.

Hesse said brass concerts used to be a staple of community entertainment in the summer, with towns of all sizes regularly offering performances of marches and opera arias by local groups.

“But this particular group takes it up a notch from just brass music,” he said. “These are professional players instead of town amateurs. These are 11 musicians instead of a 25-member band, and they’re all highly qualified players.”

Hesse emphasized that the purpose of the concert series, in addition to providing entertainment, is to raise money for local nonprofit organizations that serve the community. The first Showcase on Dustin concert benefited People Assisting the Homeless, while the second performance raised money for Navajo Ministries. All proceeds raised from this weekend's event will benefit the ECHO food bank.

Mike Easterling is the A&E editor of The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4610.

If you go

What: The Best Brass of Summer concert as part of the Showcase on Dustin series

When: 1 p.m. Sunday, June 26

Where: The First Presbyterian Church, 865 N. Dustin Ave. in Farmington

Admission: $10 with proceeds benefiting the ECHO food bank