Boston Brass brings two Romeo and Juliet-inspired arrangements in Notes from the Balcony to Strings Music Festival | SteamboatToday.com

Boston Brass brings 2 Romeo and Juliet-inspired arrangements to Strings

Mark Gould conducts a rehearsal with Boston Brass and accompanying musicians Thursday morning at the Strings Music Pavilion in Steamboat Springs in preparation for Saturday’s performance.
Bryce Martin/Steamboat Pilot & Today

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” is probably the best-known romantic tragedy of all time, and has inspired the creation of countless films, songs and stories. On Saturday, musicians from across the country unify on the stage of Strings Music Pavilion to play two such arrangements in “Notes from the Balcony.”

Boston Brass, a brass quintet of 32 years, takes the stage with strings players, a pianist and a percussionist to perform under conductor Mark Gould. 

First up is “Romeo & Juliet Suite in Seven Parts, Op. 64,” by Sergei Prokofiev, a Russian composer who lived from 1891 until 1953. Next comes American composer Leonard Bernstein’s “Symphonic Dances from West Side Story.” 

“The pieces are very different. The composers are very different,” said Jeff Conner, a Boston Brass trumpet player and the only original member still performing with the group. “Prokofiev is very Russian, very romantic, very melodic. Then there’s Bernstein, that’s percussive and rhythmic, with a lot of jazz and colors that you don’t hear in any of the other Romeo and Juliet music.” 

Every movement has a descriptive title, helping the audience imagine the details of the story and follow along.

“It’s a different way to hear this, with brass and strings together,” Conner said. “It’s a lot of fun.”

Boston Brass consists of, from left to right, Domingo Pagliuca on trombone, Jeff Conner on trumpet, Chris Castellanos on horn, William Russell on tuba, and Jose Sibaja on trumpet.
courtesy of Jeff Conner

Boston Brass first performed “Notes from the Balcony” in 2011 as artists-in-residence in Singapore, with the T’ang Quartet. In that piece, the four string instruments were amplified to be heard among the dominance of the five brass players, and the musicians operated without a conductor — no easy feat. 

If you go

What: “Notes from the Balcony: Romeo and Juliet” in Music Created by Boston Brass
When: 7 p.m. Saturday, July 20
Where: Strings Music PAvilion, 900 Strings Road
Tickets: Tickets start at $58; $10 juniors at stringsmusicfestival.com

About a year ago, Strings’ music director Michael Sachs and Boston Brass began playing with ideas of bringing the show to Steamboat, incorporating a full strings section as well as a pianist and percussionist. Boston Brass members and many of the local musicians already know each other from Boston Brass’ last visit to Strings in July 2017, when they played “And the Nominees Are …”

“Notes from the Balcony” musicians

Conductor: Mark Gould
Violin: Vijay Gupta, Laura Albers, Missy Lukin
Violin II: John Macfarlane, Scott Weber
Viola: Claude Sim, Megan Tam
Cello: Joel Noyes, Austin Fisher
Bass: Owen Levine
Trumpet: *Jeff Conner, Michael Sachs, *Jose Sibaja
Horn: *Chris Castellanos
Trombone: *Domingo Pagliuca
Tuba: *William Russell
Piano: Helen Lukan
Percussion: Daniel Hostetler
*member of Boston Brass

“This is something we’ve been looking forward to for over a year,” Conner said. 

Saturday’s Strings performance will be the only time this show occurs with this group of musicians. Boston Brass frequently collaborates with other music groups in a wide variety of forms: with high school- and college-level wind ensembles, professional and military bands, marching bands, other brass bands and with organs. 

“Our concerts are never formal,” Conner said. “It’s important for us to have fun, no matter what we’re playing, and for the audience to feel comfortable coming up and saying ‘hi’ or asking us questions after the show.” 

Two cellists perform alongside members of the Boston Brass on Thursday during a rehearsal for the upcoming “Romeo and Juliet” performance.
Bryce Martin/Steamboat Pilot & Today

Prior to the concert, Perry-Mansfield Performing Arts School and Camp’s pre-professional students will perform an improvised dance.

Tickets to “Notes from the Balcony” are available at stringsmusicfestival.com.

To reach Julia Ben-Asher, call 970-871-4229, email jbenasher@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @juliabenasher.


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