Music is a major part of most Chautauqua traditions. And one pillar of that community music tradition will be featured in concert this evening.
Under the leadership of Adian Chamberlain, Thursday Morning Brass will perform at 5:30 p.m. tonight in Fletcher Music Hall, its final performance of the 2023 season.
Although the group will perform on a Friday, the name Thursday Morning Brass comes from its rehearsals falling on Thursday morning.
The musicians are all community volunteers and, appropriately, make up the brass section of the Chautauqua Community Band.
Chamberlain said the concert will include a “wide variety” of music, beginning with Renaissance brass selections.
As those who have heard the group may know, Thursday Morning Brass frequently plays marches. Chamberlain said the concert tonight will be no different.
Aside from the bombast of the music popular in processionals and parades, this performance will also include music from Johann Sebastian Bach, George Gershwin and Giovanni Gabrieli, as well as jazz selections written from the 1600s up to the modern day. Each selection will showcase the talent of the brass musicians, Chamberlain said.
“This is a little bit more serious,” Chamberlain said. “It’s not a super-serious concert; it’s going to be fun, but it’s a bit more programmed and has a variety of music.”
While CCB, also under Chamberlain’s direction, only gets together once to practice a piece before a concert, Thursday Morning Brass has rehearsals every week and “spends the summer working up towards the concert,” he said.
Chamberlain said there is something special about playing and being involved in Thursday Morning Brass.
“It’s just all the passion. People are doing it because they want to be there and that’s just a great thing when everyone turns up every week and they’re ready to go,” Chamberlain said. “There’s a real impetus. I feel that the group’s been improving. Every year it’s grown a little bit, so it feels like we’re going in a good direction.”
As a small ensemble, the members of Thursday Morning Brass are able to get input from each other, Chamberlain said.
“We’re just a team and we talk things through together,” Chamberlain said. “Everyone’s very welcome to say, and sometimes they do, ‘We like this’, ‘We don’t like that,’ ‘Can you please put that in?’ So there’s a bit of discussion there.”
As much as Chamberlain wants to honor traditions of Thursday Morning Brass, he also recognizes how times have changed and he has learned to adapt and evolve the group as he works with them. While other groups may perform a concert per week, Chamberlain said that “might be a bit much” seeing as there’s only two months of the summer season at Chautauqua and he “doesn’t want to overdo it.”
Instead, he hopes to add a handful of more concerts in the coming seasons, possibly in different locations such as the Athenaeum Hotel or Bestor Plaza.
“Every year I’ve bought new music, so (we’re) modernizing the repertoire,” Chamberlain said. “Thursday Morning Brass used to be a lot about marches, and now I’m trying to get things a bit varied. So we’ve got some older music, some contemporary music … just pushing that new repertoire (and) smartening the group up.”