Chautauqua Chamber Music Series Opens with ‘Feats of Brass’

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In 1894-95, composer Richard Strauss wrote “Till Eulenspiegels lustige Streiche, Op. 28” for a 99-person orchestra.

At 4 p.m. Monday in Elizabeth S. Lenna Hall, the New York Brass Arts Trio will perform a reduced version of “Till Eulenspiegels lustige Streiche, Op. 28” with just three musicians as the centerpiece of its concert to kick off the Logan Chamber Music Series.

Trumpeter Joe Burgstaller, a former member of Canadian Brass, described the performance, titled “Feats of Brass,” as “really insane and totally fun.”

He said the concert’s title reflects the attitude of the ensemble, comprised of French hornist David Jolley, who helped found the Grammy-winning Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, and trombonist Haim Avitsur, who was named a Symphony magazine Emerging Artist in 2005 and 2007.

“We like that moniker because it suggests that we are trying to reach some insane achievements, and we are also doing it with a sense of playfulness,” Burgstaller said.

Each member of the trio, which has been together for eight years, has performed at Chautauqua Institution previously as part of other ensembles. However, this afternoon marks the group’s debut Chautauqua performance as the New York Brass Arts Trio.

The playfulness of each musician will shine through in Monday’s performance, according to Burgstaller, who said the trio keeps an informal format and likes to speak to the audience, tease each other and laugh a lot throughout the show.

“It’s basically inviting the audience into our living room and sharing our favorite music with them,” he said.

The trio’s favorite music covers genres such as classical, baroque, tango and American jazz, and composers such as Bach, Strauss, Beethoven, Gershwin and Piazzolla.

Being a musician requires a lifestyle of commitment and excellence, Burgstaller said. All three members of the ensemble began playing music as young children.

Burgstaller, who has been touring around the world for 20 years, said music is a universal language.

“It is absolutely amazing that music needs no translating,” he said. “There is not one correct way to experience music. It is magic if you really think about it.”

All around the globe, there is instant connection between artist, composer and audience. That connection, Burgstaller said, should result in a reciprocal relationship.

“Music is a relationship, and there are no healthy relationships that are only about one party in the relationship,” he said.

He said music provides the world with a philosophy it sorely needs: “Deep honest connection that has nothing except good in it.”

The trio, Burgstaller said, feels both a huge responsibility and privilege when the audience gives them two hours of their lives that they will never get back.

“They are trusting us with the most precious commodity in their lives, which is time,” he said.

Those two hours are, according to Burgstaller, a snapshot of all the dedication the three musicians have put into learning and performing music throughout their entire lives.

Opening the Logan Chamber Music Series adds another level of excitement for the ensemble. Burgstaller said the opening performances of any festival or concert draw a discernable energy and buzz of anticipation in contrast to mid-season performances.

“The back and forth with [the audience’s] energy and their heart we feel onstage and add to that and that is what makes a performance transcendent,” Burgstaller said. “That everyone is participating in this magical relationship called Music. Capital M.”

Julia Mericle

The author Julia Mericle

Julia Mericle is a journalism/mass communication and English student at St. Bonaventure University in the class of ’17. She is reporting on the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra. Contact her at