Seraph Brass, America’s premiere all-female brass ensemble, is bringing the holiday spirit to Sarasota’s Historic Asolo Theater December 15 and 16. The group, founded by international trumpet soloist Mary Elizabeth Bowden, draws from a roster of distinguished female musicians. Their Sarasota shows will feature Bowden and Raquel Rodriquez on trumpet, Rachel Velvikis on horn, Hana Beloglavec on trombone and Samantha Lake on tuba.
Bowden, a long-time Floridian who recently moved to North Carolina to accept a position as Resident Artist at UNC School of the Arts, is looking forward to bringing Seraph Brass to Sarasota. She says: “Florida is my second home, and I make a point to bring Seraph here once a season. I lived in Naples for about 8 years, and I still have a musical non-profit group there as well, called Chrysalis Chamber Players.”
The program for the Sarasota shows will include familiar holiday classics and popular songs – including “Winter” from The Four Seasons by Vivaldi, Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker Suite,” “Bells of Christmas Suite,” Leroy Anderson’s “Sleigh Ride” and more. Says Bowden: “We have a lot of really interesting arrangements by trumpeter James Stephenson, who also used to live in Naples. He used to play trumpet for the Naples Philharmonic, and now he’s a full-time composer.
“I am playing the solo in James’s arrangement of Vivaldi’s ‘Winter,’ which is a virtuosic trumpet part, originally for violin. Our horn player, Rachel Velvikis, is playing a tune that he wrote called ‘Deck the Horn,’ and on tuba, Samantha Lake is playing “Wassail, Wassail,” another of James’s pieces.”
Seraph Brass has been touring almost constantly this year in support of the release of their debut studio album, “Asteria,” which was released on Summit Records in April. The album, recorded in Hannikainen Hall in Nurmes, Finland, won silver medals from the Global Music Awards for both Group and Album. “Asteria” features pieces by Mendelssohn, Grieg and Liszt arranged by Utah Symphony trumpeter Jeff Luke, as well as two new works from American composers Rene Orth and Catherine McMichael commissioned by Seraph. Bowden says: “We have yet to record a Christmas CD, but we’re doing the entire Holberg Suite and Franz Lizst’s Hungarian Rhapsody #2, from our new album.”
Seraph Brass takes the stage at the Asolo at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday the 15th and 3:00 p.m. on Sunday the 16th. Tickets range in price from $25-$45 and can be purchased at artistseriesconcerts.org. Copies of “Asteria” and Seraph’s live album, as well as copies of Bowden’s solo album, “Radiance,” will be available for purchase at the show.
Seraph Brass will return to Florida in July 2019 when they appear at the International Trumpet Guild Conference in Miami. Look for Bowden when she plays with Kassia Ensemble members Dawn Posey and Ashley Freeburn, Si Yu and Katya Janpoladyan at the First Presbyterian Church of Naples Concert Series on February 17th, 2019, and again when she appears at the Shellpoint Concerts and Conversations with flutist Meghan Brachle and pianist Catherine Lan, both Chrysalis Chamber Players, in Fort Myers on April 16, 2019.
Photo courtesy of Lisa Mazzucco.