Attention lovers of the grand, the bright and the majestic.
Friday evening at Saints Peter and Paul Roman Catholic Church - that's in Holy Apostles Parish - there will be a concert, featuring some of our finest local choristers, the church's mighty organ, under the power of regular organist Donna Gatz, and five fine professional brass players, who will be coming all the way from Germany to perform for us.
The Harmonic Brass is a quintet of performers on brass instruments, who make their homes in Munich, in the German province of Bavaria.
Members of Harmonic Brass, from Munich, Germany, will perform in Jamestown at Saints Peter and Paul Roman Catholic Church on Friday at 7:30 p.m.
The performance will begin at 7:30 p.m. and the good news is that it has been offered to the community by Holy Apostles Parish. There is no admission charge, although a free will offering will be taken to help with expenses. You don't even need to call ahead for tickets or stand in line. Show up at the church, which is at the intersection of Cherry and Sixth streets, and walk right in. Choose any seat that isn't already occupied. And enjoy.
I've recently spoken by phone with Hans Zellner, who is the quintet's first trumpeter, who was battling jet lag in his hotel near the ensemble's first stop on their U.S. tour, in New York State's Catskill Mountains. He told me a bit about the group, its history and its tour.
I've also spoken with Bill Chandler, who is the Director of Music Ministries for the parish, and gotten his perspective on the coming concert. I'll be happy to share what I've learned with you.
Friday's concert will be the sixth local performance by the affable German musicians in the past 10 years.
This year, Jamestown will be the 13th of 15 stops on the group's U.S. tour, which began at St. Patrick's Cathedral on Sept. 17 and will find them criss-crossing New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. In other years, their appearances have taken place in Trinity Church, near Wall Street and Ground Zero in New York City, and at prestigious Carnegie Hall.
I wondered why they have chosen to come to our country so many times.
''Our idols are the Canadian Brass,'' he told me. ''They have given interviews in which they said they love touring in the United States, so we decided we'd try it once and see how it went. We found that both in small towns and large cities, American audiences seemed to enjoy our music, and our humor, so we tried it again, and now we find it is a very welcome part of our year.''
It is a fact that very few professional musicians can stay in one place and make a difference. Audiences everywhere want to hear different kinds of music, performed on different kinds of instruments. People will get excited a few times per year to hear a brass concert, for example, but might not be willing to do so several times per week, all through the year - enough for the musicians to earn a living.
Harmonic Brass's tours are not vacations abroad. They tend to pack up in the very early morning, and leave from their hotel, drive four or five hours, then rehearse in the space in which they will be performing that night. They then do the performance, go quickly to bed, in order to get up the following morning and start on the road toward the next performance. Although this will be the quintet's sixth performance in Jamestown, they've never been here long enough to visit Chautauqua, for example.
I wondered how Friday's concert will compare with what will be heard in their other performances. ''Jamestown is the only place where we perform with pipe organ, for one thing,'' Zellner told me. ''It is almost the only place we ever perform with a choir.''
And how do they feel about those differences? ''We love it,'' he told me. ''We always enjoy our Jamestown concerts, and look forward to them for a very long time.''
In that case, why don't they do such performances elsewhere? He answered, ''In order to put us together with organ and choir, someone has to find arrangements of music for all of us to play together. We have to learn additional music, besides our regular program for the tour. Someone has to take the responsibility to find the choir and rehearse with them. There has to be an organ in the place where we will perform. There has to be an organist talented enough to perform our music, and to combine his or her performance with ours and the choirs.''
Clearly Bill Chandler and the people at Holy Apostles Parish are ready and willing to go the extra mile, to give our community a rare and exciting experience, when people in other communities are not ready.
Does an American audience typically respond to the quintet's music similarly to a European audience, or is there a difference?
''The big difference,'' he said, ''is the need for us to speak and interact with the audiences in English. It adds one more thing which requires concentration during a concert. But, the more we do it, the easier and more natural it becomes. The audiences react very much the same to the music.''
And how will performances on this year's tour be different from the others which have been presented in Jamestown?
''Each year, we try to choose music around some theme. One year, for example, we performed entirely music which was inspired by Paris, or which called the audience's minds to Paris. This year, we are carrying around a giant clock with us, and we begin with music for the morning, and continue through the day, until we end with music for bed time,'' he said.
One thing which will be different is that the members have decided to perform their entire program of music by memory. This will make having music stands unnecessary for the concert and enable them to move around more easily and quickly.
Who are the members of Harmonic Brass?
Hans Zellner plays first trumpet. He also arranges a large percentage of the music which the group performs. Composers fairly rarely compose music specifically for brass quintet, so it is necessary for someone to examine music and decide which notes will be performed by the first trumpeter, which by the second trumpeter, and so forth.
Zellner is a graduate of the Hochschule fur Musik und Theater, in Munich, and of the Richard Strauss Conservatory, in Munich. He has been part of the quintet since 1997.
Gergely Lukacs plays second trumpet. He is the youngest member of the group, and is often teased during performances for being the best-looking, and the one young ladies hope to meet after the concerts.
Born in Hungary, he is a graduate of the Musikhochschule Karlsruhe, and of the Franz Liszt Musik Academy. This is his third year with Harmonic Brass.
Andreas Binder plays French horn. He is the member of the ensemble who is probably most fluent and comfortable in English, and he is often called upon to explain issues to the audience which might involve a bit more complexity.
He graduated from the Hochschule fur Musik und Theater, in Munich, and studied with Professor Siegfried Hammer and Professor Wolfgang Gaag. He has performed with the group since 1992.
Thomas Lux performs on trombone. He is the quiet, serious member of the group, and naturally is the subject of much of their teasing.
He studied at the Staat Hochschule fur Musik und Darstellende Kunst, in Manheim, and with Professor Paul Schreckenberger.
He has been with the ensemble since 2004.
Manfred Haberlein plays the tuba. He is remembered especially by local audiences for his lightning-fast performance of the famous ''Flight of the Bumblebee'' by Rimsky-Korsakov, which he tosses off with ease, on the tuba.
He is a graduate of the Meistersinger-Conservatory in Nuremberg, and of the Richard Strauss Conservatory in Munich.
He has been with Harmonic Brass longer than any of the other performers, having joined in 1991.
I asked the group's trumpeter if Harmonic Brass has a goal which they hope their audiences will achieve from attending their performances.
''The meaning of the music is put there by the composers, and we hope that will be readily available to the audience. We ourselves try to add to that meaning some teasing, some silliness and some fun, and we hope to give our listeners two hours off from their daily cares, and to offer them a good, happy time.''
I recently sat down with Bill Chandler to learn his view of the Harmonic Brass's many performances in Jamestown.
He said that the parish priest of Holy Apostles, Father Dennis Mende, had proposed that the church use its beautiful space to make members of our community feel welcome in the church, and to provide a service for the community.
As a result, the church has done a number of concerts, over the years. Most of these are performances on their beautiful, 44-rank pipe organ, by organists, both local and from outside the community. ''We're very proud of our organ. Some of its parts go all the way back to when we had to have a hand-pumped organ, before electric motors drove the wind through the pipes,'' he said.
Chandler has attended the Berkshire Choral Festival a number of times, which takes place annually in Sheffield, Mass., just north of that state's border with Connecticut.
That festival provides an opportunity for people who love singing and who want to study in a focused situation with some of the country's finest conductors, at a degree of difficulty not possible to those who donate their time in ensembles which must operate in addition to all the demands of the average person's day-to-day life.
While studying there, Chandler met a woman who had heard Harmonic Brass, and who suggested that one of their performances might be a welcome addition to the Jamestown church's concert series.
He contacted them and their first visit was arranged. ''The audience just loved them and soon I suggested adding a choir and our church's organ to their performances, which they thought was a great idea,'' he said.
This year, Chandler is celebrating his 40th year of directing music at the downtown church. ''The Harmonic Brass will be performing a new arrangement by Hans Zellner which he made in honor of my anniversary,'' he told me. ''It is created upon the theme 'All Creatures of Our God and King.'''
Another big work which will be part of Friday's concert will be an arrangement for organ and brass quintet of the famed first of the six ''Pomp and Circumstance'' Marches by Sir Edward Elgar. You probably recognize that work, but if you don't, just imagine yourself at a graduation ceremony, and you'll know exactly what they'll be performing.
Chandler says that the donations which are earned at the Harmonic Brass concerts typically pay about two-thirds of the cost of doing the performance. The parish pays the difference.
He said that the German instrumentalists always bring with them a wide selection of compact discs of their performances, and copies of sheet music of the arrangements which they play in their performances, the profit from which helps them to meet their expenses, as well.
He said that he and members of the church and the local performers have always found the German musicians affable and very warm and positive in attitude, although there is not a great deal of time to get to know them better.
''Typically, they drive in around 2 p.m., in their rented mini-van. They tune up and rehearse music from their concerts for a while, then they spread themselves all around the building and practice individually. By that time it's time for dinner, and they're off to get dressed for the concert. They stay in a local hotel, and they're friendly and stay around the church, after their performance, to meet people and to sign autographs and answer questions, but they have always been tired, and want to get back to the hotel, because early the next morning, they're on the road to their next concert,'' Chandler told me.
There may not be a lot of time to meet them personally, but there is a very fine two hours to hear them perform and the delight in the music of brass quintet, choir, and pipe organ. Our community is truly blessed.