At Singleton, get your brass handed to you

Mark Robinson
Staff Writer

If you’re a brass fan, then it’s a great week to be a VCU student.

The music department kicked off its third annual Brass Fest this past Monday. The weeklong event features guest artists, local favorites and showcases of student performers and ensembles.

Highlights from Monday include a performance from VCU graduate Stephanie Ycaza on tuba (accompanied by Aponi Brunson on harp) and a guest recital from United States Army Band’s “Pershing’s Own” Trumpet Ensemble.

The Herald Trumpets was established in 1959 and is the official fanfare of the president of the United States.

Student ensembles performed at the James W. Black Music Center on Tuesday evening. Small ensembles integrate upperclassmen and freshmen and are composed of a variety of brass instrumentalists.

“It was fun to finally get a chance to perform,” freshman Jonathan Murphy said. Murphy is a music education major and member of the VCU tuba/euphonium ensemble. “Rehearsing is fun, but performing is what we truly look forward to.”

The Richmond Brass consort performed following the student ensembles and featured a solo by Ycaza. Tuesday night concluded with a special performance by Richmond’s own No BS! Brass Band at the Singleton Center.

Fresh off the release of their CD “No BS!” and a performance at The Richmond Folk Festival, the group owned the stage and had the crowd out of their seats and dancing in the aisles of the Singleton Center within minutes. A particularly intriguing interpretation of “Take On Me” by a-ha got the crowd jumping.

“It’s been cool to see them grow as a band,” senior music performance major Jeff Hudson said. “I saw them when I was a freshman, and they have really developed their own style and sound over the years.”

Events for the rest of the week are centered largely on distinguished guest artist, trombonist Jim Pugh. He hosted a brass master class and performed with VCU’s trombone choir on Wednesday night.

On Friday, he will perform with The American Saxophone Quartet, which features VCU saxophone professor Al Regni. The event will wrap up the Brass Fest festivities.

Perhaps the most anticipated event of the week is VCU’s Fall Jazz Festival on Thursday night. Performances by both Jazz Orchestras and VCU Jazz faculty are scheduled for 8 p.m. at the Sonia Vlahcevic Concert Hall; admission is free with a VCU student ID. The music department’s jazz performances typically draw in large crowds, so show up early to grab a seat.

For more information about the schedule of events and performers of VCU Brass Fest, go to

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