Chamber Music Corner
Mike Forbes, Associate Editor
The Dallas Brass wa founded some twenty years ago by trombonist Michael Levine. Though the personnel have changed throughout the years, the Dallas Brass has sustained an incredibly active touring schedule and has become one of America’s foremost chamber ensembles. The group utilizes a unique blend of traditional brass instruments with a full complement of drums and percussion, which creates a performing entity of extraordinary range and musical challenges. The Dallas Brass repertoire includes classical masterpieces, Dixieland, swing, Broadway, Hollywood, and patriotic music. According to Mr. Levine, “A Dallas Brass concert is intended for the entire family. Our ideal audience has a range in ages from 5 to 95. Our goal is to entertain and enrich by playing great music, while showing our audience how much we enjoy what we do.”
In addition to their solo engagements, the Dallas Brass also appears with symphony orchestras nationwide. Symphonic credits include the Cincinnati Pops conducted by Erich Kunzel, New York Pops conducted by Skitch Henderson, and the Philly Pops conducted by Peter Nero. The Dallas Brass has performed at Carnegie Hall, the John F. Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., and has toured overseas to Europe and the Far East. Since 2000, Deanna Swoboda has been the tubist with the Dallas Brass. Having received her music degrees from the University of Idaho and Northwestern University, she is perhaps best known in the tuba/euphonium world for her work with younger musicians. Moreover, her inspirational clinics on breathing and performance coupled with her unique “BrassRap” have helped us all to get to know her better. Her children’s CD entitled Deanna’s Wonderland is available from Summit Records. Currently, she is also the instructor of tuba at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV). The other members of Dallas Brass include trumpeters Brian Neal and Jose Sibaja, hornist Marty Rhees, trombonist Michael Levine, and percussionist Dan Hostetler.
Each member began their musical involvement in elementary school music programs. They remain dedicated to working with young musicians, frequently going into the public schools to present clinics and workshops for students of all ages. For the past eight years they have been involved in a program they call “Music in the Schools.” It involves a full day residency where students interact one on one with the six members of the Dallas Brass in clinics and rehearsals. At the end of the day, the Dallas Brass puts on a full concert including the young musicians in says this about the program:
“The project is designed, above all, to be a musical inspiration for the students and their families. Our goal is the help motivate students to increase their musical involvement, practice harder, strive to excel and to realize the lifelong enjoyment and satisfaction that being involved in music can provide.”
The Dallas Brass has been heralded by many (including Dr. Tim Lautzenheiser) for interacting with young musicians on so many levels. This author is particularly pleased to see the Dallas Brass bringing ideas of chamber music into the schools at a time when marching and symphonic bands seem to be the primary focus in secondary school music programs.
The Dallas Brass recently partnered with an instrument company called Accent. Accent is a student and professional line of instruments designed with the innovation and collaboration of American and German craftsmanship. It is a new line of instruments, introduced with the intent of offering students and professionals a quality product at a lower cost. In May 2003, the Dallas Brass traveled to Germany to visit the Meinl Weston factory, where many of the parts are made for the Accent Instruments. Dallas Brass toured the factory and tested instruments, helping to improve the quality and selecting instruments to perform in the ensemble. Deanna Swoboda adds the following about the trip:
“Our time spent at the factory was amazing. Gerhard Meinl and his staff were sincerely welcoming and accommodating. The German craftsmanship and process of instrument making is first class. There is a sense of pride and T family tradition that goes along with making instruments at the Meinl Weston Factory.” You can find out more about this new line of instruments by visiting www.accent.cc for more information.
June 14: 18, 2004 marks the 2nd annual Dallas Brass Summer Camp in Bozeman, Montana at Montana State University. The Camp is open to high school and college aged students. The camp’s focus is on small and large brass and percussion ensembles. More information about this camp will soon be provided on the Dallas Brass’s website.
For Deanna Swoboda, being a member of the Dallas Brass has helped her achieve her life’s mission. “I strive to share music with people of all ages. I hope to educate, motivate, and inspire students to participate in their school music program, realizing the fun and enjoyment music can bring to their lives.” Please notify Deanna Swoboda (Deanna@dallasbrass.com) if the Dallas Brass is performing in or near your town. She will provide tickets for you to attend the event.
The Dallas Brass has released five recordings: Debut, Dallas Brass II, A Merry Christmas With Brass, Windborne, and Nutcracker, all of which can be sampled and ordered from their website. For more information about the group, its upcoming tours, its educational series, its new line of instruments, or its summer camp in Montana, please visit www.dallasbrass.com. The Dallas Brass at Geretsried