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Boston Brass comes to Georgia Southern
4-day residency gives local students rare educational experience
Boston Brass
The Boston Brass will be at Georgia Southern University for a four-day residency this week, allowing area high school students the rare opportunity to learn from some of the best musicians in the world. (Photo courtesy of the Boston Brass)

Local high school students will come together with Georgia Southern University's Southern Pride Marching Band for a special workshop and a performance with the world-renowned Boston Brass.

Students will have the opportunity to attend hands-on clinics presented by members of the Brass, including coaching sessions, during the group's four-day residency at GSU. Both high school and college students will join the Brass for a special performance during halftime of Georgia Southern's season-opening game Saturday at Paulson Stadium as part of Band Day.

Performing for 31 years, the Boston Brass is described as a one-of-a-kind musical experience. The Brass performs everything from classical arrangements to jazz standards. The group performs more than 100 times per year at concerts, educational venues and jazz festivals, in addition to performances with orchestras, wind ensembles, brass bands, marching bands and a variety of other bands. 

They have performed in 49 states and 30 countries, and have conducted master classes around the world, including The Julliard School, Peabody Conservatory of Music, Royal Academy of Music in London and the Hong Kong Academy of Performing Arts. 

For Dan Haddad, director of the Southern Pride, working with Boston Brass is like déjá vu.

"I worked with this group at my previous institution and they reached out at the beginning of the year to see if we could schedule something for this fall," he said. " After working with all of the various university entities including Georgia Southern Athletics, the College of Arts and Humanities, and the Georgia Southern Performing Arts Center (to name a few), we were able to commit to all of the events ad performances that come along with having a group of this caliber on campus."

Haddad said the Brass will arrive on Wednesday, and will rehearse in preparation for their performances on campus. The group will host two clinics on Thursday, both of which are open to high school and GSU students. They will host an additional clinic on Friday geared toward GSU students about entrepreneurship, and the nuts and bolts practicality of surviving and thriving as a working musician. Boston Brass founder Jeff Conner will be presenting at this clinic.

Also, the Brass will offer a recital on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. in the PAC. Tickets are available at the box office, by calling (912) 478-7999 or by emailing pac@georgiasouthern.edu.

Working with professionals

The experience of working with professional musicians such as the Boston Brass will be unparalleled, and all of the students will get up close and personal experience with each of the Brass members, who are "terrific educators and extremely warm and generous people," Haddad said.

"We are excited about our residency at Georgia Southern. Our main objective is to leave as big a footprint as possible for the music students and the Statesboro community," Conner said.

Conner went on to say that during the workshops, Brass members will be working with students on fundamentals.

"Fundamentals are what all musicians practice every day. For brass players they include long tones, scales, lip flexibilities, articulations and breathing. We also discuss different rehearsal and practice techniques that are scaleable for any age musician. These techniques can be used in an ensemble or individual practice," he said. 

The experience will be important for the development of each of the young musicians who attend, Conner added.

"Having the opportunity to interact, learn and perform with professionals can be life changing," he said. "I remember hearing the Empire Brass when I was a student in high school. I knew after hearing them I wanted to play in a group like them for my career." 

As for the Brass recital, Conner said there will be something for everyone.

"Our concert will feature some of our favorite music; everything from the great J.S. Bach to Duke Ellington. There's always something for everyone at a Boston Brass concert. Many of the members have featured solos that include "Flight of the Green Hornet" that showcases the virtuosity of our lead trumpet Jose Sibaja," Conner said. 

Halftime show

During the halftime show on Saturday, Haddad said that the Brass will play along with the Southern Pride's first show, which will pay tribute to British rock and include a Beatles medley and "Rebel Yell" by Billy Idol. The Brass also will be featured to close the show on a Queen medley including "We Will Rock You," "Bohemian Rhapsody" and "We Are the Champions."

Of the performance at Paulson, Haddad said, "It will take place during the halftime of the game vs. South Carolina State. For most of the students, it will be the largest crowd they've ever performed for (upwards of 25,000). The massed band will number approximately 500 and the atmosphere, along with the music and with the Boston Brass performing should make for a phenomenal experience for everyone involved."

Participating schools include Academy for Classical Education, Claxton High School, Crawford County High School, Emanuel County Institute, Georgia Military College Prep, Jackson High School, Jenkins County Middle/High School, Lassiter High School, Long County High School, Marylin Youman's School of Dance and Baton, Morgan County High School, Mount de Sales Academy, Peachtree Ridge High School, Putnam County High School, Savannah Christian Preparatory School, Screven County High School, Silver Starlites Studio (NY), Sprayberry High School, Tatnall Square Academy, Union Grove High School and Whitewater High School. Additional groups will attend the clinics and solo performance.