Empire Brass | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Empire Brass

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The Empire Brass has recorded an astonishing variety of music, from popular tunes to the standard concert repertoire, from ancient times through the 20th century. Lately its members have been focusing on their own arrangements of orchestral works. The only remaining founder of the quintet is trumpeter Rolf Smedvig, who recorded what I consider the finest version of Bach's second Brandenburg Concerto and who makes everything the quintet plays seem relaxed and natural. Marc Reese, the second trumpeter, is an indefatigable player who consistently masters the many challenging parts in Smedvig's arrangements. They're joined by Michelle Perry, a brilliant horn player; trombonist Mark Hetzler; and Kenneth Amis, a virtuosic tubaist and smart composer. In this concert they'll mix a handful of Christmas carols with some of their own arrangements and transcriptions, including Prokofiev's "Troika" from Lieutenant Kije and the "Morning Dance" from Romeo and Juliet, Dvorak's Slavonic Dance no. 1, op. 46, and de Falla's "Ritual Fire Dance" from El amor brujo; the last two are especially fine. Sat 12/4, 8 PM, Lund Auditorium, Dominican University, 7900 W. Division, River Forest, 708-524-6942, $25-$35.

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