The Brass Ensemble provides experience for both small and large chamber groups in the study and performance of traditional and contemporary music for brass instruments. Emphasis is upon developing basic performance musicianship through systematic work on intonation, phrasing, balance, and interpretation; study of brass instrument history, technique, repertoire, and pedagogy. Under the direction of Dr. Douglas Hedwig since 1985, the Brooklyn College Brass Ensemble has toured England, Switzerland, and Germany Special residencies and joint performances with students and faculty of the Royal Academy of Music (London), and Karlsruhe Musikhochschule provided unique opportunities for cultural and musical exchange. The Brooklyn College Brass Ensemble was the only student group invited to perform at the International Brass Symposium in Basel, Switzerland, and was featured at the New York Brass Conference as well as the International Trumpet Guild Conference. This active group has also performed at the Metropolitan Opera House, the Albany Center for the Performing Arts, Summer Concert Series at Bryant Park and Battery Park , Columbia University, C.W. Post College, Kingsborough Community College, and for many high schools throughout the NYC metropolitan area. The ensemble was also featured on the Telly-Award winning TV documentary, "Fanfare." Guests of the ensemble have included Benny Sluchin, Crispian Steele-Perkins, Walmir Vieira, Ole Edvard Andersen and many others of international repute.
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Under the direction of Distinguished Professor Ursula Oppens, conTempo is the Conservatory's contemporary music ensemble. Through performing a diverse repertory of solo, chamber, and orchestral works, students become familiar with the language and performance practices of a wide range of contemporary music. In addition to coaching in standard twentieth-century repertory, Professor Oppens focuses on new music, introducing the ensemble to the richly diverse idioms of living composers. conTempo has premiered many works, including compositions by Conservatory students.
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Frank Cassara, director. The Brooklyn College Percussion Ensemble, has gained an international reputation through its many performances around the world. The ensemble has performed in Istanbul, Korea, Spain and Romania, and participates in an annual percussion festival in Ireland. The ensemble plays the most challenging and ambitious works available for percussion, and has premiered many works, including several commissions by composers such as Marta Ptasynzka, David Friedman, Jose Halac, and Bernard Hoffer. Guest soloists have included the American Saxophone Quartet, David Freidman, Ray Marchica, Glen Velez, and Salim Washington.
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Under the direction of conductor George Rothman, the Conservatory Orchestra presents several concerts each semester of repertory from the baroque to new music, including concertos featuring winners of its regular concerto competitions. The ensemble also collaborates with the choruses in performance of large scale choral and in fully-staged productions of the Brooklyn College Opera Theater. The Orchestra participates in the Conservatory's Composer-in Residence program through which selected student composers create new works presented in public readings and workshop performances.
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Each year the Brooklyn College Opera Theater, under the direction of Richard Barrett, presents at least one fully-staged opera. Past productions includes Mozart's Don Giovanni, Marriage of Figaro, Magic Flute and Abduction from the Seraglio; Puccini's La Boheme and Madama Butterfly; Verdi's La Traviata; Stravinsky's The Rake's Progress; Strauss's Ariadne auf Naxos; Carlisle Floyd's Susanna; the American fully-staged premiere of Milhaud's Christophe Colomb; and a Telly-Award winning taped-for-TV production of Copland's The Tender Land. These presentations are augmented throughout the year by performances of chamber operas, providing students with extensive experience of repertory of diverse periods and styles.
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Chorale and Chamber Choir
The Brooklyn College Chorale is a 65-voice mixed choral ensemble that includes students and staff from throughout the Brooklyn College community. Conducted by James Bowyer, the choir performs a variety of literature representing every musical period and genre in its two major campus concerts per year. Past performances have included Carl Orff's Carmina Burana and Wolfgang A. Mozart's Requiem in collaborations with the Conservatory Orchestra and other Brooklyn area schools.
The Conservatory Chamber Choir, under the direction of James Bowyer, is composed of twelve to eighteen singers. Repertoire includes sacred and secular works from all centuries appropriate for smaller vocal ensembles with an emphasis on works of contemporary composers. Enrollment is by audition with the conductor.
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Jazz Big Band and Jazz Ensemble
The Brooklyn College Jazz Big Band and Jazz Ensemble are under the direction of saxophonist, composer, and scholar Salim Washington. Students in both ensembles study the standard repertory of such seminal figures as Mingus, Coltrane, Ellington, and Monk, as well as works by lesser known artists and original compositions. The Jazz Ensemble emphasizes the skills necessary skills to the contemporary jazz musician, including technique, theory, oral instruction, philosophy of improvisation, and memorization.
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The Brooklyn College Wind Ensemble, under the direction of Jeff W. Ball, performs works from a wide assortment of styles and genres. Repertoire consists of compositions written for contemporary concert band as well as orchestral transcriptions, and Broadway compilations and other popular music adapted for concert band. The ensemble performs at least two concerts a year and is open to all students of CUNY. This ensemble provides training for band instrumentalists and music educators.
The Brooklyn College Guitar Ensemble, directed by Lars Frandsen and assisted by Jesse Miller, performs a diverse repertory of contemporary works and transcriptions and/or arrangements from works spanning all periods of music. In addition to performing on standard range instruments, the ensemble's repertory is expanded through the ownership of a quartet of specially commissioned guitars with extended note compass, enabling the ensemble to perform repertoire that would otherwise be all but impossible. Several concerts have included the participation of select students from nearby James Madison High School, as well as other students, enabling the ensemble to perform repertory that calls for a significantly expanded ensemble. Each semester, the ensemble works with a Composer-in-Residence selected from the college's composition students. The guitar ensemble has premiered more than fifteen new works since forming in 1997. They perform at many outside venues; recent performances have included Yale University and the American Institute of Guitar.