The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

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April 16, 2013

How did valves enhance brass playing? Find out Sunday

LEWISBURG — The Commonwealth Brass Quintet will perform in a free concert beginning at 2 p.m. on Sunday, April 21, at Christ’s Lutheran Church, 100 S. Third St., Lewisburg.  

The concert, sponsored by the CELC Fine Arts Committee, will include a variety of repertoire, some of which commemorates the bicentennial of Union County. Additionally, the quintet will perform hymn tunes (arranged with a contemporary jazz twist), Civil War-era music, and other music from the Golden Age of Brass (an age beginning with the invention of valves — which, coincidentally — happened at about the same time as the birth of Union County).

How did valves enhance brass playing? It’s similar to what violins or cellos would be like if they could play only on open strings: for brass players, valves function like the string players left hand sliding up and down the neck of the instrument. For brass, this “sliding” allows trumpets, horns, and tubas to play complete scales as opposed to the more limited range found on earlier brass instruments such as the bugle.

Another brass instrument — the trombone (using a slide rather than valves) — had a head start. The musicians will discuss valve mechanics as part of the program.

The CBQ comprises trombonist Robert LaBarca (State College), trumpeter Michael Trego (Port Royal), and Lewisburg’s Dale Orris (trumpet), Rick Benjamin (tuba), and William Kenny (horn). The quintet first sounded off in 1980, and more than 30 years later continues to be one of the premier brass quintets in the region.

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