The Many Musical Styles of The Mirari Brass Quintet

The Mirari Brass Quintet is continuing the tradition of challenging what audiences might expect from a classical music performance.

  • mirari playing

    Image 1 of 5

    Photo: WFIU

    The Mirari Brass Quintet performs an impromptu concert for folks at the Bloomington Farmers Market.

  • noppe

    Image 2 of 5

    Photo: WFIU

    Alex Noppe performs with the Mirari Brass Quintet at the Bloomington Farmers Market.

  • thoman

    Image 3 of 5

    Photo: WFIU

    Jessie Thoman performs with the Mirari Brass Quintet at the Bloomington Farmers Market.

  • ludima and grodrian

    Image 4 of 5

    Photo: WFIU

    Eddie Ludema and John Grodrian hang out before their performance at the Bloomington Farmers Market.

  • mirari cases

    Image 5 of 5

    Photo: WFIU

    The Mirari Brass Quintet poses for one last photo after their impromptu concert at the Bloomington Farmers Market.

Innovative Chamber Groups

Two trumpets, horn, trombone, and tuba… the brass quintet.

Groups like The Canadian Brass have legitimized this instrumentation as being as artistically valuable as any other chamber group. But artistry isn’t something that’s reserved only for classical music.

The Mirari Brass Quintet is continuing the tradition of challenging what audiences might expect from a classical music performance.

“We had a quote, when we played our concert at Cornell,” said Jessie Thoman, the group’s horn player. “It was like someone put my iPod on shuffle and played all my favorite songs.”

The five musicians met when they were students at Indiana University Jacobs School of Music. In spring of 2010, the group toured New York, Ohio, and Connecticut performing at schools and conducting master classes. Thoman said that part of the group’s mission is to educate and to push boundaries in their performances. “In order to keep classical music moving forward, we have to embrace new situations, embrace new audiences, and embrace skepticism.”

More Than the Classics

“But to be honest, I don’t know if we’ve ever thought of ourselves as a classical group,” commented one of the two trumpet players Alex Noppe. Brass quintet as a genre, he said, is about 60 years old, so nearly everything the group plays is influenced by jazz, popular and ethnic music. “One of the things that I love about playing the trumpet is that you can find it in virtually every style of music imaginable.”

On a typical Mirari Brass concert, music by 16th century composer Giovanni Gabrieli will be followed by an arrangement of a Charles Mingus tune, which will be followed by an original composition. It’s this diversity of programming that they says audiences really respond to.

Connecting With the Audience

Thoman also says that it’s about breaking down barriers between the performers and the audience. “People talk about communicating with the audience, but that can seem one-way,” she said. “I think that’s where classical music has run into problems, with the musicians and the audience being two separate things.” When creating music, she continued, giving the audience something to give back to the performers is important.

Impromptu Performances

On their tour in spring 2010, they managed to fit in one special impromptu performance during their travels in New York. As they were driving from one performance to the next, Noppe recalled, they stopped by the elementary school when Thoman’s sister teaches minutes before the end of the school day.

“We set up in the cafeteria and did an impromptu ten minute performance for about three or four elementary school classes. I think it was one of the most musically refreshing, most energizing gigs we played the entire time.”

They performed another impromptu concert for an unsuspecting audience in June 2010 at the Bloomington farmers markets. Alex Noppe and Jessica Thoman were joined by the other members of The Mirari Brass Quintet: trumpter Eddie Ludema, trombonist John Grodrian, and tuba player Glen Dimick. They played music of Charles Mingus, “Goodbye Porkpie Hat,” arranged for brass quintet by Noppe.

Find out more about The Mirari Brass Quintet on their website.

Annie Corrigan

Annie Corrigan is a producer and announcer for WFIU. In addition to serving as the local voice for NPR's Morning Edition, she produces WFIU's weekly sustainable food program Earth Eats. She earned degrees in oboe performance from Indiana University and Bowling Green State University.

View all posts by this author »

  • Leilani

    Can't wait for the Quintet to come to PA!

  • Drthomanchiro

    THAT”S MY SISTER! SO PROUD OF YOU JESSIE

What is RSS? RSS makes it possible to subscribe to a website's updates instead of visiting it by delivering new posts to your RSS reader automatically. Choose to receive some or all of the updates from Indiana Public Media Arts & Music:

Support For Indiana Public Media Comes From

Search Arts and Music

Stay Connected

RSS e-mail itunes Facebook Twitter Flickr YouTube

What is RSS? RSS makes it possible to subscribe to a website's updates instead of visiting it by delivering new posts to your RSS reader automatically. Choose to receive some or all of the updates from Indiana Public Media Arts & Music:

Recent Jazz Stories

Jazz & Blues Events RSS icon

More Events »Submit Your Event »

Arts & Music is on Twitter

Find Us on Facebook

This Week on Night Lights

Jazz Goes To College

Jazz Goes To College

In the 1950s jazz artists discovered a new venue for their performances that took them far away from smoky nightclubs and into the halls of the academy.

Read more »

Night Lights is WFIU's weekly program of classic jazz hosted by David Brent Johnson.

More from Night Lights »

This Week on Afterglow

Artie Shaw and the Singers

Helen Forrest With Artie Shaw

A tribute to bandleader Artie Shaw highlighting the records he made with vocalists, including Helen Forrest, Billie Holiday, and Mel Torme.

Read more »

Afterglow is WFIU's weekly program of jazz and American popular song hosted by David Brent Johnson.

More from Afterglow »

This Week on Earth Eats

Walmart Goes Organic: What Does It Mean For The Industry?

farmer hauling greens on tractor

Walmart's announcement last week that it would sell organics at prices comparable to conventional foods has been met with skepticism.

Read more »

Earth Eats is a podcast, radio program and blog of the freshest news and recipes inspired by local food and sustainable agriculture.

More from Earth Eats »

This Week on Focus on Flowers

Vases And Springtime “Table-Scapes”

vases

The flowers above the neck of a vase should be about one-third of the total height of the vase plus the flowers...

Read more »

Focus on Flowers is a weekly program about flower gardening hosted by master gardener Moya Andews.

More from Focus on Flowers »