Mirari Brass Quintet to share love of education and performance in CCM

Mirari Brass Quintet

The passion that the musicians of the Mirari Brass Quintet bring to their performances may be matched only by their passion for connecting with their students.

The Mirari Brass Quintet will perform at 4 p.m. today in Elizabeth S. Lenna Hall as part of the Chautauqua Chamber Music Guest Artist Series. Founded in 2009, Mirari has performed across the United States, as well as China, and along with their passion for performing, the Mirari Brass Quintet members share a love for music education and are all collegiate professors of music. 

Their prioritization of engaging with students has led them to teach masterclasses, provide individual instruction, and establish a podcast called “Mirari: UNMUTED.”

“Every one of us has this passion for teaching and performing; not only are we great friends, we have this communal experience of guiding students in learning how to have music be a part of their lives,” said trumpet player J. Peyden Shelton. “It’s a very natural flow for us to establish relationships with students as part of the educational community of what Mirari is; it’s what we do on a day-to-day basis already.”

With Joe Cooper and Shelton on trumpet, Katy Ambrose on French horn, Sara Paradis on trombone, and Stephanie Ycaza on tuba, Mirari Brass will execute a significant range of works this afternoon: Anthony Di Lorenzo’s “Go!,” J.S. Bach’s “My Spirit Be Joyful,” Zoe Cutler’s “Personality Test,” John Cheetham’s “Scherzo,” Ryan H. Jones’ “Sleepy Hollow,” Collier Jones’ “4 Movements for 5 Brass,” Florence Maunders’ “Fleeting Images” and Leonard Bernstein’s “Suite from West Side Story.”

“In the grand scheme of things, most of the repertoire that Mirari tries to cultivate is new voices. We try to market the traditional and the new at the same time,” Shelton said. “What we’re trying to do is reference our past, understand our roots, but also propel the genre further. We’re establishing connections with all generations to try and reach audiences in different ways.”

Shelton’s musical career path chose him as much as he chose it. Although he currently serves as associate professor of trumpet and the University of Utah’s School of Music along with being a member of Mirari, his mom was convinced he wouldn’t be a musician because of his opposition to listening to music in the car. When he had an experimental year playing trumpet in middle school (chosen because his very best friends played in the school band) he was hooked. 

The impact of music on his life was immense; when considering what career path to follow, Shelton considered a high school band director in order to “bring the same amount of love of music, camaraderie, and friendship to students of my own.”

While pursuing his undergraduate in music at Virginia Tech near his hometown, his professor John Adler encouraged Shelton to add on performance onto his degree, telling him “you’re better than you think you are.” This encouraged Shelton to attend University of Miami while student teaching for Craig Morris — former principal trumpet for the Chicago Symphony. 

The opportunity to work with students in that one-on-one setting while still having the opportunity to perform led Shelton to the Eastern School of Music in Rochester to get his doctorate. 

“Teaching continues to grow as something I love here at the University of Utah. It provides the chance that every year I get to see something new in a student where they’re finding love in playing their instrument and a new element of their musical voice through that instrument,” he said. “It’s a beautiful journey to watch students go through, to watch them sing what they couldn’t say with words.”

Mirari emphasizes connecting with students as an important part of its mission, as members are all collegiate professors in another corner of their professional lives. 

“We have education as a priority for us because that’s what we do on a day-to-day basis. One reason is because we know our strengths, but another reason is we want to make sure we’re growing a love for the chamber music we’re creating,” Shelton said. “We want to make sure we’re propelling the chamber music and the brass quintet repertoire forward as well as fostering a relationship with students.”

Along with engaging and educating students, another part of Mirari’s vision is to market the traditional and modern through the cultivation of new voices while elevating historically silent voices. One piece of how they do this is through their program Call for Scores, which is a competition with a prize of $750 designed to elevate composers who may never have been heard before. 

Florence Maunders was a recent winner whose music premiered last summer at the International Trombone Festival at Salt Lake and will be in Mirari’s upcoming program this afternoon. Shelton deemed Maunders’ piece “Fleeting Images” as a dubstep-esque work for brass quintet. 

“What we do if we select your piece is program it and give it the space, time, and respect that it’s due,” he said. “Part of our mission is to move the genre forward while elevating historically silent voices to make sure that we’re able to show brass quintet as a viable, enjoyable medium for music.”

The opportunity for Mirari to perform at Chautauqua is especially meaningful to Shelton, as he and his wife got engaged in upstate New York and his time getting his doctorate in Rochester afforded him the experience of visiting this “beautiful space.” 

“We just love being around there. Chautauqua has always had a great reputation of being a promoter of music, so being a part of the legacy of the Chautauqua festival is a beautiful thing,” he said. “We’re excited to be there and share our program.”

Chautauqua’s appreciation of the eclectic nature of the program is especially valuable to Mirari, as veering from the traditional is something of a joy to the quintet.

“One reason we love Chautauqua is because they allow us to present programs that aren’t typical classical pieces,” Shelton said. “All these pieces have a classical nature to them, there’s melody, pulse and groove — every piece we find wants to connect to the audience that way.”

Tags : CCMchamber musicChautauqua Chamber Music Guest Artist SeriesMirari Brass Quintet

The author webchq