Concert Review: Septura at Denison University

 

Septura, a 7-member brass ensemble, has embarked on a 10-day, 10-concert tour of the USA. Experiencing a “great” time of year with winter weather conditions throughout Midwest, the group made a stop in Central Ohio at Denison University in Granville, Ohio this past Monday evening.

While the audience size was underwhelming, this did not stop the group from performing its absolute best. The fifth stop in their tour, one could tell the group was hitting their stride with marvelous blends within the pieces. Performing a packed program with music by Ravel, Gershwin, and Debussy, all of the arrangements were from members of the ensemble. Since brass septets are not a common breed of ensembles, Septura has created their own arrangements and transcriptions to start a library of music for other groups to perform.

With 3 trumpets, 3 trombones, a tuba, and a plethora of mutes at their beckoning call, Septura was truly able to create any kind of sound heard in the arranger’s ear. With each musician having at least one mute at their disposal, so many different colors of sound were filtered through their instruments. Even with this variety, sonorities were completely meshed together to create a marvelous experience for the listener. Many times the blending of sounds was so beautiful the listener was not able to tell which player was playing at a given moment.

The warm yet technical playing of the group as a whole was noticed in all pieces. While all musical qualities were demonstrated at the highest level, the greatest quality shown was endurance, especially in the group’s rendition of Gershwin’s An American in Paris. The 15-minute workhorse of an arrangement was pulled off with excellent brilliance and stamina.

With only a few days left in their debut US tour, one hopes Septura will come back to the States (soon!) with more music.

Favorite Piece: “The Sunken Cathedral” by Claude Debussy. This has been a favorite piece of mine, and I have always wondered what it would sound like in a brass ensemble. It was presented as a powerful piece of music with excellent arranging.

Photo Credit

Jeremy Smith

Jeremy Smith is a trombonist, brass teacher, and blogger. He studied music performance at both Grace College and Carnegie Mellon University, and currently is the bass trombonist for Orchestra Iowa and the Huntington Symphony Orchestra. In 2014, Jeremy started Last Row Music as an online resource of job postings and artist links for brass musicians around the world. When he is not performing or blogging, Jeremy is giving brass lessons to students throughout the country from his home in Centerburg, Ohio.