Painters paint on canvasses; musicians play in spaces. That is what gives the Annapolis Brass Quintet's "Great Music in Great Spaces" series, which begins Sunday, special piquancy.Although the series was inaugurated last year as a way to increase opportunities for performances, some of the concerts have become intriguing musical challenges. The quintet has learned how to take advantage of overhanging balconies and has had to find repertory that matched the age of buildings whose anniversaries the quintet might be celebrating.
"This series is not one in which you walk into an ordinary theater with a proscenium stage and play your usual program," says trumpeter David Cran, one of the 20-year-old ensemble's founding members. "We have to look at a space and figure out how to utilize it."
Sunday the ABQ -- trumpeters Cran and Robert Suggs, hornist Sharon Tiebert-Porter, trombonist Wane Wells and bass trombonist and tubist Robert Posten -- will play in the newly renovated Courtroom 400 in the Clarence Mitchell Courthouse. They will perform music for brass and synthesizer by Thomas Alonso -- he will also perform -- a new piece by David Sampson and classics of the English Renaissance and Baroque periods by Anthony Holborne, William Byrd and Henry Purcell. Prior to the concert, a lecture about the history of the space will be delivered by Howard Dowling, the architect and music lover who was responsible for the renovation of the courtroom.
Brass quintet playing is now so popular, Cran says, that it is hard to believe that such ensembles are a relatively recent phenomenon, dating back to the formation of the New York Brass Quintet in the 1950s. Almost all of the older music that brass quintets play -- such as the works of Gabrieli -- is performed in transcription. But, Cran adds, it's relatively easy to persuade living composers to write for his ensemble.
"One of the composers who writes for us once told me that it's 'a joy to write for brass quintet. If I write for string quintet,' he said, 'I have to compete with Mozart and Schubert!'."
Annapolis Brass Quintet
When: Sunday, 5 p.m.
Where: Courtroom 400, Clarence Mitchell Courthouse