The Naumberg Award-winning Empire Brass is celebrating its twenty-fifth anniversary as North America’s premier brass quintet. The five musicians perform over 100 concerts a year, both in the United States and abroad. Recently the group has expanded its original quintet instrumentation to include drummer Steve Wilkes, who brings to the pieces on Class Brass: Fire Dance not only a wider range of sonorities, but also a heightened sense of their dynamic and rhythmic possibilities.
Class Brass: Fire Dance features innovative and virtuosic arrangements, mostly by first trumpeter and founding member Rolf Smedvig, of a diverse repertoire that ranges from the sixteenth-century dance music of Susato to the Presto Barbaro from On the Waterfront by Bernstein. A group of talented guest musicians joins the ensemble, adding to the impact of orchestral works such as Ravel’s Boléro, Jupiter from Holst’s The Planets, and three of Dvorák’s Slavonic Dances, Opus 46. Also featured is Albinoni’s Concerto in C Major for trumpet and organ, transcribed for brass quintet.