Brass quintet to trumpet its finale this weekend

April 23, 1993|By Phil Greenfield Contributing Writer

After 22 years of distinguished music making, the Annapolis Brass Quintet will take the stage for the final time this weekend.

When trumpeters David Cran and Robert Suggs, French horn player Sharon Tiebert and trombonists Wayne Wells and Robert Posten appear in concert at Key Auditorium Sunday evening, they will bring the curtain down on a pioneering ensemble that has brought the excitement of brass chamber music alive to audiences all over the world.

"It gets harder and harder to explain," said Mr. Posten of the decision to disband the group. "But the honest-to-goodness truth is that we are just no longer able to get the number of concerts of the sort we'd like to sustain a career. The decline of the economy and the general mood in the arts right now have started to hit us."

Composer Douglas Allanbrook of St. John's College suggested that the Quintet has become a victim of its own success. As brass quintets have reached a mass audience -- due in no small part to the ABQ's efforts -- listeners have come to expect more than just music. "Groups like the Canadian Brass are side-shows who provide pure entertainment," Mr. Allanbrook said. "They are magnificent players, but they just put on a show."

But mere cuteness has never been the ABQ's stock-in-trade. "What's truly remarkable about them," Mr. Allanbrook said, "is nTC that they are thoroughly dedicated to doing serious music well. They play with great attention to detail and a sense of ensemble that is worthy of a great string quartet."

Annapolis Chorale conductor Ernest Green said: "It's great when people that talented come together And not only are they well-heeled musicians, they're wonderful people, too. I'm disappointed they're disbanding."

Janet Macauly, a conductor and composer whose works have been performed by the quintet, said the group has "been very supportive of new music, especially American music. I wish more groups would do that."

The Naval Academy's John Barry Talley said: "They'll be missed. They've made the community richer by their presence."

Quintet members look back on a host of great memories. Robert Suggs, the ABQ's second trumpet for 18 years, recalled the weeks the group spent at a music camp in Norway in the 1970s.

"We lived with those kids in almost a family situation and were treated like musical gods," he said. "We became musical missionaries."

Mr. Posten remembered the rock concert-like atmosphere of a performance in the great Gothic cathedral in Seville, Spain. Wayne Wells recalled an outdoor concert in the Philippines when the 100 degree temperature made no difference. "We nailed that one," he said.

Mr. Wells will teach at Towson State University after the group disbands. Mr. Suggs will start a doctoral program at the University of Maryland and build a music program from scratch at Towson Catholic High School. Ms. Tiebert will play for the international company of "Les Miserables," and looks forward to spending three months with the cast and orchestra in Singapore.

In the meantime, Mr. Posten has been taking his six-year-old daughter, Annie, to this final round of concerts. "I'd like for her to get a sense of what her dad was doing, and how special it all was," he said.

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