A journey from Bach to Jazz


More than two decades ago, five Spanish musicians created an innovative quintet, Spanish Brass, which specializes in breaking the boundaries between pop, classical, jazz, Latin, and traditional music and has traveled the globe performing to the delight of audiences everywhere.

The enthusiasm generated at their 2008 Hilo performance made a return engagement mandatory, and so at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday at the University of Hawaii at Hilo Performing Arts Center, the Hawaii Concert Society will present a return performance by Spanish Brass.

“Our concert will be like a journey through a museum,” said Carlos Benetó Grau, trumpet player and a founding member of the ensemble. “When you are in a museum, you see artists of so many different styles. That’s what we like to bring to the audience.”

The Valencia-based quintet has an amazingly crisp sound and an energetic (to put it mildly) stage presence. Critics rank them among the finest few brass quintets in the world, alongside the Empire, American, and Canadian quintets, with whom they occasionally have collaborated.

Benetó, trumpet player Juanjo Serna Salvador, French horn player Manuel Pérez Ortega and trombonist Indalecio Bonet Manrique formed Spanish Brass in 1989. Tuba player Sergio Finca Quirós joined the group in 2006. The ensemble tours extensively in western Europe and started touring in the United States six years ago.

Benetó said he loves playing for American audiences, because they are more relaxed and accepting than many European audiences. “American people are more excited — they clap, they scream,” he said. “You can see that they are having a good time at the concert, from the beginning. … It really helps us to play a nice concert and have a good time ourselves, sharing music and words with the audience.”

The brass quintet is relatively new creation, which came into its own in the 1930s and 1940s. Initially they played only transcriptions of works that had been composed for band or orchestra. However, a substantial body of brass quintet literature now exists, and a multitude of attractive arrangements of works originally intended for other small ensembles, and even solo instrument, has been created.

The Hilo audience will hear examples of all of these, beginning with the aria from Bach’s “Goldberg Variations, BWV 988,” originally for harpsichord, to be followed by his dramatic and famous “Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, BWV 565,” originally for organ, but arranged for brass quintet by Canadian Brass trumpet player Fred Mills.

The program will proceed through a variety of musical styles. Spanish musical traditions will be well-represented by music from de Falla’s “Three-cornered Hat,” a dance by Enrique Granados and operatic pieces from zarzuelas by Gerónimo Giménez and Tomás Bretón, and even a flamenco piece, by Pascual Piqueras.

The program also includes modern and popular works. Jazz, including “The Sidewinder” by Lee Morgan, will be well represented. And as a nod to the coming holiday season, music from one of the most popular albums of all time, “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” will close the concert.

Tickets for the concert by Spanish Brass are $20 general, $16 senior, and $10 student, are available at the Most Irresistible Shop, Music Exchange, the UH-Hilo Performing Arts Center Box Office, and at the East Hawaii Cultural Center. Remaining tickets will be available at the door from 6:45 p.m.

For additional information call 959-4064 or visit www.hawaiiconcertsociety.com.

 

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