Holiday music and cheer were in the air last Friday night as the National Music Museum on USD’s campus hosted the annual winter concert.
This year’s concert featured “A Touch of Brass Quintet,” a brass band made up of USD alumni and professors at other institutions. The performance was free to the public. The members of the quintet include, Keith Krueger from Wakefield, Nebraska on Trumpet; Randy Neuharth from Norfolk, Nebraska on trombone; Josh Calkin, an assistant professor at Wayne State College on tuba; Gary Reeves, an associate professor at USD on horn and Dave Bohnert, a professor at Wayne State College also on trumpet. Both Reeves and Neuharth are alumni of USD.
Friday’s concert was an arrangement of musical pieces from operas, which was finished off with a selection of Christmas songs.
Krueger said he played in a similar type of group during his 10 years in the Air Force. After leaving the Air Force, Krueger decided to start A Touch of Brass Quintet in 1984, and today he’s the director of the group.
Next spring, the group will perform a series of five concerts at various locations, in addition to four college graduations.
In years past, Krueger said demand was high for the group to play at weddings.
“When people wanted live music, we used to play a dozen weddings every year,” Krueger said.
They still play at weddings occasionally, but there aren’t as many people who want brass music for their weddings anymore.
The members of the group know each other from performing in various ensembles together over the years.
“Musical circles are really amazingly small,” Reeves said.
Krueger said the current ensemble works well together.
“Right now, I have the best set of musicians that I could ever wish for,” said Krueger.
When it comes to playing a brass instrument, Reeves said his favorite part is both the physical and mental challenges that comes with it.
“You’re putting your air through your instrument and holding the instrument, there is a physical satisfaction from doing it and then of course there’s the mental aspect of it. Reading and interpreting the music and doing the technical things,” Reeves said. “I just don’t know of anything else, for me, that would take the place of that.”
Krueger said he enjoys personally arranging the music for the group.
“Over the last 45 years, I have arranged a lot for brass quintet. Every concert we do is a different type of concert,” Krueger said. “We have to have five people that work together and make music as one.”