Media Release: Announcing the National Brass Ensemble Project


Sam Smith

Director of Communications

San Francisco Conservatory
of Music

[email protected]



Cathy Partlow Strauss
Director of Conservatory Communications
Oberlin Conservatory of Music
[email protected]
440-775-8328 - office
440-315-6346 - mobile 

Jessica Anderson
Associate Director of Communications
Green Music Center




April 23, 2014  





San Francisco Conservatory of Music,

Oberlin Conservatory of Music,


Sonoma State University's Green Music Center


Proudly Announce Launch of

The National Brass Ensemble Project

and Introduce

The National Brass Ensemble


June 9 - 14, 2014 Inaugural Residency in San Francisco Bay Area

of Country's Foremost Orchestra Brass Players


Special June 12, 2014 Concert

Inspired by

Grammy Award-winning Recording, The Antiphonal Music of Gabrieli

And Featuring

World Premiere Commission by Renowned Composer John Williams



Recording of Gabrieli's Sacrae symphoniae and Williams Commission
at Skywalker Sound for Commercial Release



San Francisco, CA - San Francisco Conservatory of Music (SFCM), Oberlin Conservatory of Music and Sonoma State University's Green Music Center today announced The National Brass Ensemble Project, a partnership formed to present a newly created group, the National Brass Ensemble, in a week-long residency taking place June 9 - 14, 2014 in Rohnert Park and San Rafael, California. The Ensemble, a singular collection of musicians from across the United States, features 24 leading brass players and two percussionists from the Boston Symphony, Chicago Symphony, Cleveland, Detroit Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, New York Philharmonic, Philadelphia and San Francisco Symphony orchestras.


Generously supported by Oberlin College alumnus Dr. Joseph Markoff '65, The National Brass Ensemble Project will be an annual San Francisco Bay Area residency that in future years will combine teaching and performances by the nation's foremost brass players.


The highlight of the inaugural residency is a June 12, 2014 public performance at the Green Music Center's Weill Hall inspired by the Grammy Award-winning recording, The Antiphonal Music of Gabrieli. (The original recording featured the brass ensembles of the Chicago Symphony, Philadelphia and Cleveland orchestras.) The program includes excerpts from Venetian composer Giovanni Gabrieli's innovative work Sacrae symphoniae (1597), arranged for The National Brass Ensemble by San Francisco Symphony principal trombonist and SFCM faculty member Tim Higgins, and the world premiere of a commission by Academy Award and Grammy Award-winning film composer John Williams.


The first edition of The National Brass Ensemble residency will culminate in the recording of a commercial CD at Skywalker Sound including brass arrangements from Gabrieli's Sacrae symphoniae and the recording premiere of the Williams commission.


"A project years in the making, the inaugural concert and recording of the National Brass Ensemble is not only an extraordinary achievement in its own right but an opportunity both for our students and for the world beyond to experience brass playing at the very highest level," said David H. Stull, president of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. "I am honored to have these musicians with us, and I look forward to developing an ongoing relationship with the National Brass Ensemble in an annual residency offering outstanding brass instruction and world-class performances in the San Francisco Bay Area."


Andrea Kalyn, dean of the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, said, "The Gabrieli project embodies high artistry, vision and creative collaboration, and so models in a tremendously powerful way the very qualities we seek to instill in our students. We are deeply grateful to Dr. Joseph Markoff (Oberlin class of 1965) for making this endeavor possible. We also want to thank composer John Williams for contributing a world premiere composition to celebrate the birth of this new ensemble. It is a privilege to work with the National Brass Ensemble, the San Francisco Conservatory and the Green Music Center on this truly remarkable undertaking."


"We are delighted to welcome a project of this caliber to our campus," said Zarin Mehta, co-executive director of the Green Music Center. "This residency marks a fantastic unity of our new performing arts center with two institutions I hold in the highest regard - the San Francisco Conservatory and Oberlin Conservatory of Music. I look forward to witnessing the artistry that emanates from this exceptional collaboration."


Among the distinguished artists in the National Brass Ensemble are several faculty members of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, all of whom are principal players with the San Francisco Symphony: Tim Higgins, trombone, Mark J. Inouye, trumpet, and Oberlin Conservatory alumnus Robert Ward ('77), horn.


The full roster of the National Brass National Brass Ensemble includes (in alphabetical order): Joseph Alessi, principal trombone, New York Philharmonic; David Bilger, principal trumpet, The Philadelphia Orchestra; Jeffrey Curnow, associate principal trumpet, The Philadelphia Orchestra; Marc Damoulakis, percussion, The Cleveland Orchestra; Nitzan Haroz, principal trombone, Los Angeles Philharmonic; Randall Hawes, bass trombone, Detroit Symphony Orchestra; Tim Higgins, principal trombone, San Francisco Symphony and SFCM faculty; Thomas Hooten, principal trumpet, Los Angeles Philharmonic; Mark J. Inouye, principal trumpet, San Francisco Symphony and SFCM faculty; Richard King, principal horn, The Cleveland Orchestra; Massimo La Rosa, principal trombone, The Cleveland Orchestra; James Markey, bass trombone, Boston Symphony Orchestra; Chris Martin, principal trumpet, Chicago Symphony Orchestra; Michael Martin, trumpet, Boston Symphony Orchestra; Jennifer Montone, principal horn, The Philadelphia Orchestra; Michael Mulcahy, trombone, Chicago Symphony Orchestra; Gene Pokorny, principal tuba; Chicago Symphony Orchestra; Thomas Rolfs, principal trumpet, Boston Symphony Orchestra; Mike W. Roylance, principal tuba, Boston Symphony Orchestra; Michael Sachs, principal trumpet, The Cleveland Orchestra; Philip Smith, principal trumpet, New York Philharmonic; James Sommerville, principal horn, Boston Symphony Orchestra; Yasuhito Sugiyama, principal tuba, The Cleveland Orchestra; Robert Ward (Oberlin '77), principal horn, San Francisco Symphony and SFCM faculty; Gail Williams, former associate principal horn, Chicago Symphony Orchestra; Paul Yancich, principal timpani, The Cleveland Orchestra.


- ### -


Calendar Editors Please Note:

National Brass Ensemble 

Thursday, June 12, 2014 at 7:30 PM
Weill Hall, Green Music Center
Sonoma State University

1801 East Cotati Avenue, Rohnert Park, CA 94928   



Selections from Giovanni Gabrieli's Sacrae symphoniae (1597)
John Williams world premiere commission


Tickets from $45.

By phone: 866.955.6040

Purchase Tickets online



About Giovanni Gabrieli

An influential Venetian composer who straddled the late Renaissance and early Baroque periods, Giovanni Gabrieli (1554/1557-1612) wrote music for vocal and instrumental ensembles of the illustrious Saint Mark's Basilica, succeeding his uncle Andrea Gabrieli as the church's principal organist and composer. Inspired by the acoustical properties of a vast building with facing choir lofts, Gabrieli perfected a split choir or "antiphonal" style of composition for alternating groups of performers.


The original 1968 recording that inspired this project, The Antiphonal Music of Gabrieli, (Sony Classical) showcased the brass ensembles of the Chicago Symphony and the Philadelphia and Cleveland orchestras as well as the Boston Brass Ensemble with conductor Richard Burgin and organist E. Power Biggs. Winner of a Grammy Award for Best Chamber Music Performance in 1970, it has been long admired as a definitive modern rendition of Giovanni Gabrieli's music.


About John Williams  One of the most popular and successful American composers of the modern age, John Williams is the winner of five Academy Awards, 21 Grammys, four Golden Globes, four Emmys and seven BAFTA Awards from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts.  With 49 Oscar nominations to date, Williams is the most nominated living person and the second-most nominated person in Academy history.  Best known for his film scores and ceremonial music, Williams is also a noted conductor and acclaimed composer of concert works, including two symphonies and numerous concerti and chamber works.  Williams has composed the music and served as music director for more than 100 films, including Schindler's List, Lincoln, Saving Private Ryan, Jaws, E.T. The Extra-terrestrial, all of the Star Wars and Indiana Jones films, the first three Harry Potter films, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Jurassic Park, Home Alone, Superman, Far and Away, JFK, Hook, Amistad, Seven Years in Tibet, The Book Thief, The Lost World, Rosewood, Sleepers, Nixon, Sabrina, Presumed Innocent, Always, Born on the Fourth of July, The Accidental Tourist, Empire of the Sun, The Witches of Eastwick and Goodbye Mr. Chips.


About the San Francisco Conservatory of Music

Founded in 1917, the San Francisco Conservatory of Music is the oldest conservatory in the American West and has earned an international reputation for producing musicians of the highest caliber. Notable alumni include Yehudi Menuhin, Isaac Stern, Jeffrey Kahane, Aaron Jay Kernis and Warren Jones, among others. The Conservatory offers its approximately 400 collegiate students fully accredited bachelor's and master's degree programs in composition and instrumental and vocal performance. Its Pre-College Division provides exceptionally high standards of musical excellence and personal attention to more than 580 younger students. The Conservatory's faculty and students give nearly 500 public performances each year, most of which are offered to the public at no charge. Its community outreach programs serve over 1,600 school children and over 11,000 members of the wider community who are otherwise unable to hear live performances. The Conservatory's Civic Center facility is an architectural and acoustical masterwork, and the Caroline H. Hume Concert Hall was lauded by The New York Times as the "most enticing classical-music setting" in the San Francisco Bay Area. For more information, visit


About the Oberlin Conservatory of Music

The Oberlin Conservatory of Music, a National Medal of Arts recipient, is recognized as one of the foremost professional training institutions in the world. Praised as a "national treasure" by the Washington Post, the conservatory is situated amid the intellectual vitality of Oberlin College creating an unparalleled learning environment. As the oldest continuously operating conservatory in the United States, Oberlin is renowned for its success in generating exceptional artists who have attained international stature. Oberlin's alumni enjoy illustrious careers in all aspects of the music world. They have achieved prominence as solo performers; chamber, orchestral, and jazz musicians; composers; conductors; and music educators, scholars, and administrators -- among them Denyce Graves, Christopher Rouse, David Zinman, Dorothy Delay, Steven Isserlis, Jennifer Koh, Claire Chase, Jeremy Denk, Robert Spano, and founding members of eighth blackbird, Miro Quartet, and the International Contemporary Ensemble. Graduates of Oberlin include a multitude of Grammy Award winners, two Pulitzer Prize recipients, and two MacArthur "genius award" Fellows. For more information visit


About Sonoma State University's Green Music Center

Sonoma State University (SSU) is located in California's premier wine country, one hour north of San Francisco. Nestled at the base of the idyllic Sonoma Mountains, the college is home to the Green Music Center (GMC), including its spectacular 1400-seat centerpiece venue, Joan and Sanford I. Weill Hall, which was modeled closely after the iconic Seiji Ozawa Hall at Tanglewood and designed to offer exceptional acoustics, with picturesque views of the surrounding countryside and a modular rear wall that opens to terraced lawn seating. The GMC presents year-round programming of top classical, contemporary, jazz, and world music artists through the MasterCard Performance Series and is home to the Santa Rosa Symphony, in addition to hosting year-round concerts by the San Francisco Symphony and providing an annual residency for young professional musicians in partnership with Carnegie Hall.



Download the media release in PDF format.


� 2014 San Francisco Conservatory of Music. All Rights Reserved.