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Potsdam Brass Quintet to Mark 50th Anniversary With Special Events at The Crane School of Music

04.10.18
Potsdam Brass Quintet celebrating 50th anniversary
Now celebrating its 50th anniversary, the Potsdam Brass Quintet currently includes (from left): Lauren Becker, Jim Madeja, Charles Guy, John Ellis and Mark Hartman.

The Potsdam Brass Quintet is celebrating its 50th anniversary at SUNY Potsdam’s Crane School of Music this year. In honor of that major milestone, the group decided to mark the occasion by supporting and celebrating new music.

“When the Potsdam Brass Quintet started to consider how to best celebrate the 50th anniversary of this ensemble, we thought a fitting tribute would be to commission a work by a well-known composer. The first name that came to mind was Anthony Plog,” said Dr. John Ellis, professor of trumpet. “Tony is an amazing musician, composer and teacher known throughout the world for his compositions. We reached out to him to see if he would be interested in this commission, and he graciously accepted.”

The Potsdam Brass Quintet is set to present the world premiere of Plog’s commissioned work, titled “Polychromes,” in a special 50th anniversary concert on Monday, April 23 at 7:30 p.m., in the Sara M. Snell Music Theatre. The group invited the composer to visit Crane for a residency, and organized three successive concerts to explore his music.

“Crane is proud to celebrate a significant milestone in the 50th anniversary of the Potsdam Brass Quintet. This distinguished faculty ensemble has represented the School and raised its national and international profile throughout its history, and its members continue to be important ambassadors not only for Crane, but for excellence in brass performance,” said Crane School of Music Dean Michael Sitton. “The ensemble has also embodied Crane’s fundamental commitment to music education through the excellence of its members as teachers and through countless workshops, masterclasses and performances the PBQ has led in schools throughout New York and beyond. We celebrate this wonderful anniversary as we look forward to this ensemble’s ongoing place in Crane’s profile of excellence.”

The Potsdam Brass Quintet will also take the stage alongside the Crane Wind Ensemble on Wednesday, April 25 at 7:30 p.m., in the Helen M. Hosmer Concert Hall. The groups will perform “Concert 2010,” Plog’s four-movement work for brass quintet and wind ensemble, during the concert, which will also include works by Viet Cuong, Percy Aldridge Grainger and David Maslanka.

The full schedule for Plog’s residency is as follows:

  • Monday, April 23: There will be an open discussion with Plog about his career in music at 3 p.m. in the Ralph Wakefield Recital Hall. The Potsdam Brass Quintet will premiere his commissioned work, “Polychromes,” in its 50th anniversary concert at 7:30 p.m. in Snell Theater.
  • Tuesday, April 24: The Potsdam Brass Quintet will host a luncheon to mark its anniversary at noon. At 4 p.m., Plog will lead an educational session with Crane composition students. At 7:30 p.m., there will be a recital devoted entirely to Plog’s music, performed by students, in Snell Theater.
  • Wednesday, April 25: The composer will lead an open masterclass with students at 3 p.m. The Crane Wind Ensemble concert at 7:30 p.m. in Hosmer Hall will feature the Potsdam Brass Quintet in Plog’s piece, “Concerto 2010.”

About the artists:

The Potsdam Brass Quintet, established in 1968, is the brass quintet-in-residence at The Crane School of Music. The current members of the Potsdam Brass Quintet are John Ellis and James Madeja (trumpet), Lauren Becker (horn), Mark Hartman (trombone) and Charles Guy (tuba). All are members of the Crane faculty. The Potsdam Brass Quintet has performed in concert throughout much of the United States and Canada, including performances at New York’s Lincoln Center and the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. The ensemble has been featured at state, national and international music conferences, including appearances at the International Brass Festival, International Trombone Festival, International Horn Society Workshop, College Music Society Conference, Skyline Brass Music Festival, MENC National Conference, Texas Music Educators Association Convention, New York State School Music Association Conference, New York State Band Directors Association Conference and the New England Brass Convention. In addition to recital performances, the Potsdam Brass Quintet regularly presents workshops for music educators and clinics for younger audiences in elementary and secondary school settings. The ensemble has performed in concert with Canadian Brass and the Gregg Smith Singers. The Potsdam Brass Quintet has recorded four albums on the RCA Custom, Kendor and Mark Recording labels—"New York Composers,” “Music for Brass Quintet,” “La Réjouissance” and “The Art of Brass.” Preceded by the New York Brass Quintet (est. 1954), the American Brass Quintet (est. 1960), and the St. Louis Brass Quintet (est. 1964), the Potsdam Brass Quintet (est. 1968) is one of America’s oldest professional brass quintets.

Anthony Plog has had a rich and varied international career in music—as a composer of operas, symphonic music and chamber works; as an orchestral musician, soloist and recording artist; and as a brass teacher and coach at some of the great music conservatories internationally and now online to students around the world, through his new teaching program. The music of Anthony Plog has been performed in over 30 countries, and he has been the recipient of numerous grants and commissions. After beginning his career writing extensively for brass, he now works in many different musical forms. He has composed three children’s operas, completed a major tragic opera (“Spirits”) based on a Holocaust theme, and recently finished a new opera about a drone operator suffering a nervous breakdown (“The Sacrifice”). Other new works include an oratorio about the first major environmental battle in the United States (“God’s First Temples”), and a cantata using the stories of women who have recovered from sex trafficking, prostitution and drug abuse (“Magdalene”).  Plog began studying music at the age of 10, and by 19 he was playing extra trumpet with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. He has held positions with orchestras around the world, including the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, the Malmö Symphony and the Basel Symphony, and has performed on tour with the Stockholm Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Buenos Aires Symphony. As a soloist, he has toured throughout the U.S., Europe, Australia and Japan, and has numerous solo recordings to his credit. Plog has taught at some of the greatest music institutions around the world, including the University of Southern California, the Music Academy of the West and Indiana University, as well as the Schola Cantorum (Basel, Switzerland), the Malmö Music Academy (Sweden), the Academia di Santa Cecilia (Rome, Italy), the Norwegian Music Academy and the Freiburg Musik Hochschule (Germany). Plog lives and works in Freiburg, Germany.

All concerts are free, and the public is invited to attend.

All three evening concerts will be broadcast live on the Crane School of Music YouTube channel at the performance times. To watch these and other upcoming streaming performances, visit www.potsdam.edu/academics/Crane/streaming.

For more information about SUNY Potsdam’s Crane School of Music, please visit www.potsdam.edu/crane.

Founded in 1886, SUNY Potsdam’s Crane School of Music has a long legacy of excellence in music education and performance. Life at Crane includes an incredible array of more than 300 recitals, lectures and concerts presented by faculty, students and guests each year. The Crane School of Music is the State University of New York’s only All-Steinway institution.

Media contact:

Alexandra Jacobs Wilke, Office of College Communications,
(315) 267-2918