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The American Brass Quintet will fill Harris Hall with 'glorious' sounds

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The American Brass Quintet, also known as ABQ, features, from left, Michael Powell, trombone; Eric Reed, horn; John D. Rojak, bass trombone; Louis Hanzlik, trumpet; and Kevin Cobb, trumpet. ABQ, the resident brass ensemble of the Aspen Music Festival and School, will perform at Harris Hall on Thursday.

Instruments such as trumpets and trombones are not used just for military fanfares.

They can join forces for a wide range of fine music, often by great masters of past generations, as well as living composers who are inspired by their commanding sound.

And when brass players take the stage at Harris Hall, it is amazing how powerful the hall, famous for its acoustics, can sound.

The Aspen Music Festival and School’s resident brass ensemble, the American Brass Quintet, or ABQ, and their proteges are delivering a strong sonic punch at Harris Hall on Thursday.

“We’ve got a terrific set of English fancies, or fantasias," said ABQ's bass trombonist John Rojak. "Abut Gabrieli’s always the master of, I mean, the true master of the Renaissance.”

The Gabrieli canzon requires 10 brass players, although ABQ has only five members.

ABQ has long worked with young brass performers at Aspen, guiding these "fellowship" ensembles into perfecting ensemble work and cultivating individual skills.

Cam Holt, a tuba player in one of the Fellowship Ensembles based in the Denver-Boulder area, loves working in Aspen with ABQ.

“Any time we get to do these 10-piece brass ensembles … glorious, huge, just royal sound,” Holt said.


Classical music reporter Chris Mohr has loved classical music since he was twelve. “And I owe it all to radio,” Chris explains. “I grew up in a farm town east of Cleveland. One day I turned on the local classical radio station. They were playing Vivaldi, and it was like the gates of heaven opened up to me!" Chris is also a composer, and is working on a 53-note-to-the-octave oratorio, "Melodies of the Shoreless Sea." This is his ninth summer working for Aspen Public Radio.