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SHS, SEB concert bands perform with famous group Dallas Brass
Dallas Brass kids
Members of the Dallas Brass, front of stage, share the audience's applause with members of the concert bands from Statesboro and Southeast Bulloch High schools. Following a clinic earlier in the day, the bands joined the Dallas Brass for part of their performance at Georgia Southern University's Performing Arts Center. - photo by ROGER ALLEN/special
    Last weekend, some 50 members from the Statesboro and Southeast Bulloch High School concert bands were part of a concert at Georgia Southern University’s Performing Arts Center. Band members joined the famous Dallas Brass on stage for a portion of their performance after participating in a clinic from Dallas Brass members earlier in the day.
    The unusual combination of professional musicians and high school students was arranged when Georgia Southern assistant professor of music Dr. Rick Mason asked Dallas Brass founder Michael Levine about teaching a master class to some of GSU students.
    Levine said he not only would do that, but the band would offer a clinic to high school bands if there was any interest. There was. Albert Pertalion, director of the Performing Arts Center agreed to let the Brass use the hall for the band clinic. So, at 1 p.m. last Saturday afternoon, band students from SEB and SHS assembled and the lessons began.
    The members of the Dallas Brass were introduced: Levine, trombone; Brian Neal and D.J. Barraclough, trumpets; Chris Castellanos, horn; Nat McIntosh, tuba and sousaphone; and Jeff Handel, drums and percussion.
    After listening to the bands play, Levine took the lead in making suggestions. He started Dallas Brass 25 years ago, and along with other band members, has mastered the arts of practice, placement and performance. His suggestions were often simple, but helpful.
    Suggestions included: sitting in a circle and facing each other when practicing instead of lining up like they were in front of an audience; placing the low brass (the horn and the tuba) next to each other, instead of being placed on opposite sides of the stage; also constantly moving about the stage during a performance. Not only did it keep the audience entertained, but it allowed for the band to prepare for the next piece without taking a noticeable break.
    Levine further explained why playing in a small ensemble was a good thing. First of all, small music groups can play in just about any size of venue. Secondly, band directors at schools suffering from already tight budgets don’t have to spend all that much money to support a smaller band group. Finally, he said for high school or college musicians it is much easier to continue playing with just a few friends in a quintet while still being able to pursue their own careers.
    The members of Dallas Brass told students that they collectively felt a responsibility as professional musicians is to bring music appreciation to as many people of all ages and walks of life as possible. They said their real enjoyment comes from watching their music make people smile, laugh and clap.
    When everyone reassembled for the concert that night, the students sat down to await their professional concert debuts and the members of Dallas Brass went back stage. When the curtains rose, Levine promised the nearly packed house that they were in for a treat, as most of them had had no idea local high school students would be a part of their concert experience.
    The Brass played a one hour set of American music classics from the last two hundred years and then took a break. When they came back on stage, the Statesboro and SEB concert bands joined the Dallas Brass. The selection was entitled “American Tableau,” which Levine described as a patriotic medley of America’s most-loved music. The crowd clearly loved it.
    Pembroke resident Jeannie McCormick  said the American Tableau piece “left her and her friends with chills.”
    Paige Sutcliffe, a Statesboro resident and mother of SHS band member Josh Sutcliffe said, “I couldn’t believe what an awesome job they had done.”
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