Member Profile

Five Brass-Playing Friends: Mainstreet Brass Quintet

A Lehigh Valley Arts Council Member Profile

What prompted the formation of the quintet? And how has it evolved since the beginning?

Mainstreet Brass members (l. to r.): Kevin Long, trumpet; Bryan Hay, trombone; Donald Hughes, trumpet; Shari Gleason-Mayrhofer, French horn; Allen Franks, tuba

Mainstreet Brass formed in 1986, when five brass-playing friends who had known each other for years decided to get together after college to rehearse brass quintet literature. At first, we played for church services, weddings, and graduations—a modest schedule to keep our chops in shape. Now, more than twenty-five years later, the group has evolved into a touring ensemble that presents unique repertoire at more than twenty-five performances a year. This past year, Mainstreet Brass gave concerts in Georgia, Michigan, and Virginia, as well as Pennsylvania, including here in the Lehigh Valley. We’ll conclude our spring season with a concert on May 20 at Cathedral Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.

How do you decide on the repertoire?

Mainstreet Brass actively commissions and arranges its own music to keep our programs unique and engaging for our audiences. We’re fortunate to have a roster of professional arrangers who take our ideas and turn them into memorable works for brass quintet. It could be a concert overture, a melody from a popular musical, an opera aria, a Renaissance dance suite, a Celtic rock piece, or even a set of iconic tunes from famous spy movies and westerns. We all keep an alert ear for what might work effectively for brass quintet. We strive to present music that not only translates well for the brass quintet idiom but also makes people smile. We’re also fortunate to have two members in the quintet, Kevin Long and Shari Gleason-Mayrhofer, who produce well-crafted arrangements for the ensemble. Presenting exclusive repertoire that results in one-of-a-kind brass concerts is a priority for Mainstreet Brass.

How is the group managed? Do certain members assume different responsibilities?

Each member of the Mainstreet Brass takes responsibility for a specific area of the group’s management—new arrangements, music library, promotional items, budgeting, public relations, website content, social media, and grant applications.

What experience has the group had in the past couple of years that stands out as singularly noteworthy?

We’re particularly proud of our critically acclaimed recordings on the MSR Classic label: By Request (MS 1290), featuring eighteen Mainstreet Brass concert favorites, and Christmas Spirit (MS 1325), which contains eleven new Christmas arrangements for brass (alone and with percussion) as well as some old favorites and a few surprises. Both recordings have been aired nationally on classical music stations and Sirius XM Radio. They were engineered and produced by Candlewood Digital’s Richard Price, a nationally known arranger,conductor, and recording engineer.

What plans do you have for the future?

We’re planning to do a third recording for MSR Classics and looking forward to more concert tours around the country.

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