KEARNEY — Dean Haist expects most audience members will stay in their seats when Nebraska Brass performs its concert, “Invitation to the Dance,” in Kearney on Feb. 23.
“It’s not music to dance to at all,” he said from his office in Lincoln. “Most of the music on the program has some ties to dance. We’re doing ‘Renaissance Dances’ by Tylman Susato; a very light and happy piece. We’re also doing Holst’s Second Suite, which has a march for the second movement.”
The program features works by Hoagy Carmichael, Claude Debussy, Percy Grainger, Aram Khachaturian and Aaron Copland — along with “Do the Funky Heron” from Nebraska Brass’ favorite composer/arranger Robert Elkjer.
While all of the pieces connect to the idea of a dance, this is no sock hop.
“There is a lot of music that relates to dance but this is not necessarily a performance for people to get up and dance,” said Haist, one of the founders of the group and trumpet player for Nebraska Brass.
Nebraska Brass will present “Invitation to the Dance” at 3 p.m. Feb. 23 at the First Lutheran Church, 3315 Ave. G. Tickets to the concert are $12 for general audiences, $10 for seniors and free to students.
The first half of the concert highlights classical music.
“In the second half we try to lighten things up and have more popular, recognizable music,” Haist said.
Nebraska Brass, a quintet including two trumpets, French horn, trombone and tuba, looks for music that translates well to brass.
“Our former trombone player, Jay Rowely, arranged the Copland piece for us,” Haist said. “Jay was a master arranger and he really captures the music from that ‘Saturday Night Waltz.’ It’s such a beautiful piece, juxtaposed next to some very ragged and loud selections at the very beginning. And then it ends with that beautiful melody.”
Haist notes that another piece, “Sabre Dance” by Khachaturian, works extremely well with a brass quintet.
“It’s a very exciting and flashy piece,” Haist said. “It’s very authentic in its approach. And that’s a nice thing about the brass quintet; there’s so much music that has been written for it and also has been transcribed for the brass quintet. Everything from orchestra music to band music to poplar music to Dixieland jazz music — a lot of music does lend itself well to that instrumentation. Not too much music is busier than five things happening at one time.”
Most pieces of music consist of a melody, a line of harmony and then a bass line that holds it all together.
“The instrumentation for a quintet really works very well for that,” Haist said. “It provides a range of pitches from the piccolo trumpet all the way down to the tuba. There’s also a contrast in style, as far as of the sound from the French horn and trombone. There are a lot of different colors that go into the sound.”
Haist believes that audiences will know most of the music on the program of “Invitation to the Dance.”
“A lot of the music will be recognized,” he said. “The final movement from the Holst Suit in F is the melody of ‘Greensleeves.’ People will recognize that. And ‘Sabre Dance,’ ‘The Trish Trash Polka,’ ‘The Girl with the Flaxen Hair’ by Debussy — people may not even recognize the music until they hear it. We try to play a variety of music so that everyone will hear something in the concert they enjoy.”
For Haist and the other members of the group, talking with the audience between pieces achieves two goals.
“We try not to bore our audiences with too much speaking but we all take turns talking about the music, the arrangements and giving a little insight to what we’re doing,” the trumpet player said. “It both helps to make what we’re about to play a little more interesting to the listeners, and more importantly, it gives us a chance to rest between the pieces. Playing an hour’s worth of music, that’s not something brass players can do from beginning to end.”
A symphony orchestra, with many performers, allows individuals to rest between passages.
Nebraska Brass began performing in 1987 and has reached more than 60 different communities throughout the state. The quintet generally presents five concerts each year.
“We’ve performed in pretty much every community in the state of Nebraska that has more than 3,000 people in it,” Haist said. “You know, we don’t get lost driving around the state much any more. We know the back roads.”