The Marietta Brass Quintet is so named because the group practices on Swarthmore’s own Marietta Avenue. The group is composed of Gil Rose and George Gehring on trumpet, Phil Runkel on French horn, Bill Nazzaro on Tuba and Carr Everbach on trombone. This local quintet of brass players will be performing this Sunday at 2:00 p.m. in the Lang Concert Hall.
The group began playing together four years ago, but had some rearrangements and substitutions in past years to form the group performing Sunday. Everbach and Rose are both faculty of the college — Everbach is an Engineering professor and Rose was a Classics professor. The other players are local brass musicians with a love for chamber music.
The group will be performing a variety of music, including classical, military band, and popular music. The most famous of the pieces to be played is Leonard Bernstein’s “West Side Story Suite,” which Rose quotes as “our most ambitious piece.” The quintet’s second most ambitious piece is Victor Ewald’s “Brass Quintet No. 2.” The group will also be performing pieces by Holst, Shostakovich, Saint-Saëns — featuring a horn solo for Runkel — and Brahms.
The group quotes several musical influences in its development as a quintet. “Most of our arrangements are from the Empire Brass Quintet,” Everbach said. As individuals, the group has appreciated several different brass groups, including the brass section of the Chicago Symphony and the Canadian brass.
This will be trumpeter Gehring’s last performance with the Marietta String Quintet. He is moving from Swarthmore to New York, and definitely plans to continue playing. “I’m excited for this to be my last performance,” Gehring said. “This has been a great group to play with; we’ve played a lot of fun and challenging things.”
Everbach believes this to be the most challenging concert that the group has ever played. “We’ve all improved as players working on this difficult music,” he said. He believes that practicing for this concert has helped all of the players grow as musicians and as friends. The other players agree that “West Side Story” is the most challenging. “It’s the end of the concert, so everyone’s a little tired” Gehring said. He hopes that this crowd-pleasing piece will keep everyone engaged and excited.
Everbach stressed that the group is composed of amateurs. “We love to play for fun, and we hope that people can have fun with us.” The group also hopes that the free concert will entice students to come and enjoy their music.
Andi Merritt ’13 plans to attend the performance. As a French horn player, Merritt is excited to hear some talented musicians. “I have played in brass quintets before, I have a real appreciation for the challenges associated with playing brass instruments,” Merritt said.
The quintet agrees that there are several challenges. Typically brass players are in an orchestral setting, in which they get vast breaks in the pieces. “We’re doing a lot of work where the strings aren’t there … It’s a very different experience for a brass player to be playing all the time,” Nazzaro said.
A brass quintet is uncommon at Swarthmore compared to the vast amount of student string, piano, and woodwind chamber groups that perform through the Elizabeth Pollard Fetter Chamber Music Program. “Right now, there is no student or faculty brass quintet or anything, so virtually the only chance that students will get a chance to hear a brass quintet is us, right now, in this phase of campus life,” Everbach said. There have been student brass quintets in the past, but however none exist as of yet this year.
Merritt hopes that many students attend the event. “It’s pretty rare to find a brass quintet concert; I think the college is lucky to have the opportunity to have a quintet perform, especially a local one,” Merritt said.
Continuing on that point, Merritt thinks that it’s important to support these local artists. “A large part of the appeal in playing an instrument for most musicians is having the opportunity to share their creations with an audience.”