National Brass Ensemble

Andrew Kazdin, producer of The Antiphonal Music of Gabrieli, wrote the following in 1968: 

“The same probability that governs the chance that ninety toothpicks poured out upon the floor will arrange themselves into the twenty-six letters of the alphabet applies to the project of bringing together nineteen busy musicians from the top three orchestras of three states.”

Fast-forward forty-six years and make that twenty-six busy musicians from the top nine orchestras of seven states. When David H. Stull (then Dean of the Oberlin Conservatory of Music) and I first sat down for lunch in the spring of 2011, I never would have imagined that our discussion that day would eventually take us on a three-year journey leading to this event. With David’s background as a tuba player, our discussion quickly turned to our favorite musicians and recordings. Almost immediately, we both brought up the famous 1968 Gabrieli recording, The Antiphonal Music of Gabrieli, featuring brass groups from the Chicago Symphony, the Cleveland Orchestra, and the Philadelphia Orchestra. We agreed that for every brass player of our generation and since, this was the iconic recording that set the bar for American brass playing excellence. Every one of us has a story about the first time we listened to the album and how we were simply awestruck by what we heard. 

David and I both expressed how wonderful it would be to try and assemble a similar project now, as both an homage to the 1968 recording and as a modern version of the concept with all that today’s talent and technology could deliver. In the following months, David and I went back and forth with ideas of a “Gabrieli Institute,” exploring many options and having discussions with several of my colleagues. We considered a recording reunion of the current Philadelphia, Cleveland, and Chicago groups, which would mirror the original personnel, but after more deliberation we decided it would be best for this project to take a slightly different direction in order to bring a new dimension to the concept.

During that same period, in the summer of 2011, Chris Martin (Principal Trumpet, Chicago Symphony) and his brother Mike Martin (4th/Utility Trumpet, Boston Symphony) created the National Brass Symposium in their hometown of Atlanta. This was a fantastic gathering of many of the same players who are here this week. The symposium included educational events and many concerts of all sizes with a large brass group performance as the focus event at the end of each day. The playing was so inspiring, and the camaraderie and chemistry so fantastic, that a number of us realized then that this was the direction to follow for the Gabrieli project.

Once this template became our goal, the daunting question remained: how could we ever get all these players in one place at one time? It took us the better part of the next three years to make that happen, but somehow the ninety toothpicks aligned into the alphabet one more time and we found a week when everyone could be available.

While the scheduling Rubik’s Cube was being addressed, David enlisted the assistance of Dr. Joseph and Phyllis Markoff, whose incredible generosity made this project event possible. We are deeply indebted to Dr. and Mrs. Markoff in more ways than we can ever say, and we cannot thank them enough for the tremendous gift that he has given us.

As the puzzle pieces began to fall into place, we came to the important matter of musical specifics and needed an arranger who would bring the highest level of artistry to the project. In discussing this with Chris Martin and Michael Mulcahy (2nd Trombone, Chicago Symphony) we quickly agreed that one of our own, Tim Higgins (Principal Trombone, San Francisco Symphony), would be the perfect choice as arranger and we are immensely grateful to Tim for his phenomenal work and for delivering such wonderful and innovative versions of this music. 

Our next critical task was to obtain access to the original music. In striving to create something truly new, we needed to start from the original source so as not to merely rehash other arrangements. In November of 2013, I was in Vienna on tour and had the opportunity to seek out the advice of Dr. Otto Biba, Director of the Archives at the Musikverein (home of the Vienna Philharmonic). In our meeting, Dr. Biba was quick to embrace our project and his input proved to be invaluable. Within two weeks, he guided us to exactly what we had hoped to find: out-of-print resource materials with original notation and no modern instrumentation. These scores are the basis of the arrangements that appear on this program.

We shot for the moon with this project and got very lucky. We got even luckier when iconic composer John Williams gifted us with a work composed specifically for this occasion. In seeking to carve an updated template for this project that would reflect the best of modern brass playing, it seemed only fitting for me to reach out to Mr. Williams – the true master of American brass writing – to see if he would be interested in contributing something. His quick and generous response overwhelmed me. Words are not enough to express our profound gratitude to Mr. Williams for his priceless gift to this project. 

Lastly, but perhaps most importantly, this project never would have seen the light of day without the vision and tireless support of David H. Stull (President of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music). His creative energy literally willed this to happen, and we owe him a huge debt of gratitude for his Herculean work and his endlessly positive determination.

I think I can speak for everyone onstage when I say that we are all honored to be part of this project that took the efforts of so many, the generosity of a special few, and the inspiration of a generation. We hope you enjoy the program and we thank you for joining us for this unique and memorable event.

Michael Sachs, Principal Trumpet, The Cleveland Orchestra



Joseph Alessi, Principal Trombone, New York Philharmonic

Joseph Alessi was appointed principal trombone of the New York Philharmonic in the spring of 1985. He began his musical studies in his native California with his father, Joseph Alessi Sr., and continued training at the Curtis Institute of Music. Prior to joining the Philharmonic, Alessi was second trombone of the Philadelphia Orchestra for four seasons and principal trombone of L’Orchestre Symphonique de Montreal for one season. In April 1990, he made his solo debut with the New York Philharmonic, performing Creston’s Fantasy for Trombone, and in 1992 premiered Christopher Rouse’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Trombone Concerto with the philharmonic. His most recent solo appearance with the orchestra was performances of Bramwell Tovey's Trombone Concerto in the summer of 2013, and his next solo appearances with the philharmonic will be in June of 2016 for the world premiere of William Bolcom's Trombone Concerto. Alessi is on the faculty of the Juilliard School, and he has recorded extensively for Summit Records and Naxos.


David Bilger, Principal Trumpet, The Philadelphia Orchestra

David Bilger has been principal trumpet of the Philadelphia Orchestra since 1995, prior to which he held the same position with the Dallas Symphony. As a soloist, Bilger has appeared with the Philadelphia Orchestra, Dallas Symphony, Houston Symphony, Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, Oakland Symphony, Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra, Philharmonia Virtuosi of New York, and others. He has appeared with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, with which he recorded Bach’s Second Brandenburg Concerto. He released a recording of new electroacoustic music for trumpet and synthesizers with composer Meg Bowles. Bilger serves on the music faculties of the Curtis Institute of Music and Temple University. He has given master classes at dozens of institutions, including the Juilliard School, Indiana University, University of Michigan, Manhattan School of Music, and Peabody Conservatory.


Jeffrey Curnow, Associate Principal Trumpet, The Philadelphia Orchestra

Jeffrey Curnow joined the Philadelphia Orchestra as associate principal trumpet in 2001. He began his career in music in 1983, when he was appointed principal trumpet of the New Haven Symphony. Soon after, Jeff joined the New York Trumpet Ensemble, recording on the MMG/Vox and Newport Classics labels. Four years later, he became a member of the internationally renowned Empire Brass, touring worldwide and recording on the EMI and Telarc labels. In 1995, Jeff was appointed principal trumpet of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, with which he performed as soloist on a number of occasions. He is well established as an educator, clinician, adjudicator, arranger and producer. He has taught at Boston University, the Tanglewood Institute, the Royal Academy of Music in London, and is currently a member of the faculty at the Curtis Institute of Music and Temple University.


Marc Damoulakis, Principal Percussion, The Cleveland Orchestra

Marc Damoulakis joined the percussion section of the Cleveland Orchestra in August 2006. Before coming to Cleveland, he played with the New York Philharmonic and served as principal timpanist of the Long Island Philharmonic, as well as assistant principal percussion of the Harrisburg Symphony Orchestra. A former co-principal percussionist of the New World Symphony, Damoulakis has played with the orchestras of Atlanta, Detroit, and Houston, as well as the Florida West Coast Symphony, Kirov Orchestra, Sun Valley Summer Symphony, Spoleto Festival Italy, and Pacific Music Festival. As a chamber musician, he has performed with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, New Music Consort, Pulse Percussion Ensemble, and Time Table Percussion Quartet. Damoulakis is a faculty member at DePaul University in Chicago. A graduate of the Manhattan School of Music, he has studied with Chris Lamb, Duncan Patton, and James Preiss.


Nitzan Haroz, Principal Trombone, The Philadelphia Orchestra

Nitzan Haroz rejoined the Philadelphia Orchestra as principal trombone in 2014 after holding the same position with the Los Angeles Philharmonic since 2012. Previously, he was principal trombone of the Philadelphia Orchestra since 1995 after serving as assistant principal trombone of the New York Philharmonic and as principal trombone of the Israel Symphony and Opera Orchestra. Haroz’s solo appearances include dates with the Philadelphia Orchestra—also his Carnegie Hall solo debut and the world-premiere performance of Roland Pöntinen’s Blue Winter for trombone and orchestra—the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, Israel Symphony Orchestra, Jerusalem Symphony, Sofia Radio Symphony, and the Fairbanks Symphony. A first prizewinner of the François Shapira Competition and a former scholarship recipient of the America-Israel Cultural Foundation, his recording Towards the Light was released in 2004, and he serves on the faculty at the Curtis Institute of Music. His teachers included Eli Aharoni, Mitchel Ross in Israel, and Joseph Alessi at the Juilliard School. His recording Towards the Light was released in 2004, and he serves on the faculty at the Curtis Institute of Music.


Randall Hawes, Bass Trombone, Detroit Symphony Orchestra

Randall Hawes has been the bass trombonist with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra (DSO) since 1985. Before joining the DSO, he was a member of the Woody Herman Band for two years. He has performed with orchestras including Pittsburgh, Boston, Cleveland, Chicago, Los Angeles, and the Grand Teton Music Festival. He studied with William Rivard at Central Michigan University and Byron McCullough at Carnegie Mellon. Hawes is a member of the Saito-Kinen Festival Orchestra with Seiji Ozawa, music director, and has been with the World Orchestra for Peace with Sir Georg Solti and Valery Gergiev, since 1995. His two solo CDs are Melodrama and Barn Burner. He can be heard on recordings with the Detroit Symphony under music directors Leonard Slatkin, Neeme Järvi, and Günther Herbig, and with the Chicago Symphony with Sir Georg Solti and Riccardo Muti. Hawes has been a lecturer at the Bienen School of Music at Northwestern University since 2004.


Tim Higgins, Principal Trombone, San Francisco Symphony

Timothy Higgins was appointed principal trombone of the San Francisco Symphony by Michael Tilson Thomas in 2008. He was previously the acting second trombonist of the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington, D.C. A Houston native, Higgins has performed with orchestras across America including the Milwaukee Symphony, Chicago Symphony, Grand Teton Music Festival, Washington National Opera, and Baltimore Symphony. In addition to a busy symphonic career, he has arranged music for CT3 Trombone Quartet, National Brass Quintet, Bay Brass, and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music Brass Ensemble. His arrangements have been performed by the Washington Symphony Brass, Chicago Symphony Brass Section, and the Northwestern University Brass Ensemble. As a teacher, he has led master classes in Japan, China, Canada, and the United States, including classes at the Royal Conservatory in Toronto and the Juilliard School. He is currently on faculty at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and Northwestern University. In 2013, he released a solo CD called Stage Left.


Thomas Hooten, Principal Trumpet, Los Angeles Philharmonic

Principal trumpet of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Thomas Hooten earned a position in “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band in 2000, with which he was often a featured soloist. While living in the D.C. area, he performed with groups including the National Symphony Orchestra, Harrisburg Symphony, Washington Symphonic Brass, Arlington Symphony, and Baltimore Symphony. Following his four-year enlistment in the Marine Band, he performed as assistant principal trumpet position with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, and subsequently as principal trumpet with the Atlanta Symphony. Currently on faculty at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, Hooten is an active master class clinician and has conducted classes and performed in recitals across the country, including appearances at the Juilliard School, Northwestern University, Indiana University, and Mannes School of Music. For the last two summers, he has served on the artist faculty for the Aspen Music Festival. Hooten can be heard on numerous Los Angeles Philharmonic recordings, and in 2001, he released his first solo album, Trumpet Call


Mark J. Inouye, Principal Trumpet, San Francisco Symphony

Mark J. Inouye is one of a very select group of trumpeters equally at home in the worlds of jazz and classical music. The principal trumpet of the San Francisco Symphony, Inouye has toured North America, Europe, Asia, and Central America. He was a member of the New World Symphony, principal trumpet with the Charleston Symphony, and served as principal trumpet with the Houston Symphony from 2004-06. Inouye has twice been a soloist with the New World Symphony, and performed the Tartini Violin Concerto, arranged for trumpet, with the Houston Symphony. In addition, he appeared as soloist in Wynton Marsalis’ video production Marsalis on Music and was a soloist with the Tanglewood Wind Ensemble under the direction of Seiji Ozawa. He has appeared as a soloist on the Disney Channel in a concert featuring the WHO at Carnegie Hall and was a guest artist at the Hollywood Bowl for the Playboy Jazz Festival. Currently he is on faculty at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.


Richard King, Principal Horn, The Cleveland Orchestra

Richard King began serving as principal horn of the Cleveland Orchestra in 1997, having joined the ensemble in 1988 as associate principal at age 20. King has been featured numerous times as soloist with the Cleveland Orchestra and has appeared as soloist with the Tokyo Symphony and New Zealand's Auckland Philharmonia. A native of Long Island, he began playing the horn at age nine and spent six years as a student of Arthur Green. He then attended the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, where his primary horn teacher was former Cleveland Orchestra principal Myron Bloom. An active chamber musician and recitalist, King has performed as a member of the Center City Brass Quintet since 1985; their five recordings on the Chandos label were met with wide critical acclaim. He is on the faculty at the Cleveland Institute of Music and the Kent/Blossom Music Festival professional training program.


Massimo La Rosa, Principal Trombone, The Cleveland Orchestra

Massimo La Rosa has been principal trombone of the Cleveland Orchestra since 2007, after serving as principal trombone of La Fenice Opera House from 1996 to 2007. He has performed as guest principal trombone with La Scala Opera in Milan, the Santa Cecilia Orchestra in Rome, and the Saito Kinen Festival Orchestra in Japan. La Rosa’s performances include recitals in South America, Europe, Asia, and the United States. Following the release of his first solo recording, Cantando, he was named “New Artist of the Month” by Musical America. Born in Palermo, Italy, La Rosa enjoys playing for social causes, and recently performed a benefit recital for the Dystonia Medical Research Foundation that raised thousands of dollars to benefit medical research. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of each copy of his latest album, 2013’s Sempre Espressivo, also benefits the foundation. He has also collaborated with the Italian Consulate in Cleveland and Detroit to perform several benefit recitals for the ANFE Light of Light Foundation. He is head of the trombone department of the Cleveland Institute of Music.


Adam Luftman, Principal Trumpet, San Francisco Opera and Ballet Orchestras

Originally from Longmeadow, Massachusetts, Adam Luftman is currently the principal trumpet of both the San Francisco Opera and San Francisco Ballet Orchestras. Previously, he held positions with the Baltimore Symphony, New World Symphony in Miami, and Civic Orchestra of Chicago. In recent years, Luftman has also performed with the Cleveland and Philadelphia Orchestras and Chicago and San Francisco Symphonies. In addition to his orchestral work, he has been a featured soloist with a number of groups, regularly performs with The Bay Brass, San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, and is an avid jazz musician. During the summers, he has performed at Grand Teton Music Festival, Tanglewood Music Center, National Repertory Orchestra, Spoleto Festival, and the Pacific Music Festival in Japan. He has recorded with the Philadelphia Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, Baltimore Symphony, for ESPN Sunday Night Football, and appears on many movie and video game soundtracks recorded at George Lucas' Skywalker Ranch in California. Luftman is on the faculty of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, Stanford University, UC Berkeley, and San Francisco State University.


James Markey, Bass Trombone, Boston Symphony Orchestra

James Markey joined the Boston Symphony in 2012, following a 15-year-tenure as both associate principal and bass trombone of the New York Philharmonic, and a two-year tenure as principal trombone of the Pittsburgh Symphony. An active recitalist and clinician, he has appeared at major festivals and institutions worldwide. He has released three solo recordings, Offroad (2003), On Base (2009), and Psychedelia (2015), and he appears as a guest soloist on two others, Hora Decima Brass Ensemble (2002) and A Beautiful Noise (2013); and he released a joint CD of orchestral and opera excerpts with Denson Paul Pollard (2010). He is currently on the faculty of the New England Conservatory and Longy School of Music.  He earned his Bachelor of Music and Master of Music degrees from the Juilliard School, where he studied under Joseph Alessi. 


Chris Martin, Principal Trumpet, Chicago Symphony Orchestra

Christopher Martin holds the Adolph Herseth Principal Trumpet chair of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO). Prior to his appointment in 2005, Martin was principal trumpet of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and associate principal of the Philadelphia Orchestra. He performs regularly as soloist on the Chicago Symphony’s subscription series—most recently in the 2012 world premiere of Christopher Rouse’s concerto Heimdall’s Trumpet, which was commissioned for Martin by the Chicago Symphony. In 2011, Martin performed a program of 20th-century French concerti by André Jolivet and Henri Tomasi with the Chicago Symphony. He has also been featured soloist with the Australian Chamber Orchestra in addition to performing with the Grand Teton Festival and Saito Kinen Festival orchestras. Martin received his Bachelor's degree with performer's certificate from the Eastman School of Music and is currently on the faculty of Northwestern University. He can be heard on CSO Resound as well as Atlanta Symphony recordings on the Telarc label.


Michael Martin, Trumpet, Boston Symphony Orchestra

A native of Marietta, Georgia, Michael Martin joined the trumpet section of the Boston Symphony and the Boston Pops as fourth/utility trumpet in 2010. A graduate of Northwestern University, Martin was a fellow at the Tanglewood Music Center in 2006 and 2008, receiving the Roger Voisin Trumpet Award both summers. He has performed with orchestras across the country and around the world, including the Atlanta, Baltimore, and Chicago symphonies, and with the Pacific Music Festival of Sapporo, Japan, and the Grand Teton Music Festival of Jackson, Wyoming. He has performed as guest principal trumpet with the Honolulu Symphony, the Seoul Philharmonic, and the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra. From 2006 to 2009, Martin was a regular member of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, the training orchestra of the Chicago Symphony. A champion of new music, he has performed with acclaimed contemporary music groups eighth blackbird and the Pacifica Quartet.


Jennifer Montone, Principal Horn, The Philadelphia Orchestra

Jennifer Montone joined the Philadelphia Orchestra as principal horn in 2006. Previously the principal horn of the Saint Louis Symphony and associate principal horn of the Dallas Symphony, Montone formerly served as adjunct professor at Southern Methodist University and artist faculty at the Aspen Music Festival and School. Prior to her tenure in Dallas, she was third horn of the New Jersey Symphony and performed regularly with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, and the New York Philharmonic. Her recording of the Penderecki Horn Concerto, Winterreise, with the Warsaw National Philharmonic, won a 2013 Grammy Award in the category of "Best Classical Compendium." She regularly appears as a featured artist at International Horn Society workshops and International Women’s Brass conferences. In May 2006, she was awarded the prestigious Avery Fisher Career Grant. She serves on the faculty at the Curtis Institute of Music and the Juilliard School.  


Michael Mulcahy, Trombone, Chicago Symphony Orchestra

Chicago Symphony Orchestra trombonist Michael Mulcahy has appeared as a soloist and teacher in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Ireland, Germany, Holland, Italy, Sweden, Denmark, Russia, Japan, China, Argentina, New Zealand, and Australia. He has appeared as a soloist with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Pierre Boulez in music of Elliott Carter, and most recently with Daniel Barenboim in Leopold Mozart’s Concerto for Alto Trombone, which was also broadcast widely on public television. Other solo appearances include the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Hilversum Radio Symphony Orchestra, and the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra on tour. Mulcahy is the winner of several international competitions, among them the Australian Broadcasting Corporation Instrumental Competition, the ARD International Music Competition in Munich, the Viotti International Competition in Italy, and the International Instrumental Competition in Markneukirchen, in the former East Germany. Every July, he leads his Summer Trombone Performance Master Class at Northwestern University, where he has bee Professor of Trombone since 1999.  


Gene Pokorny, Principal Tuba, Chicago Symphony Orchestra

Gene Pokorny has been the tuba player in the Chicago Symphony since 1989. Previously, he was the tuba player in the Israel Philharmonic, Utah Symphony, St. Louis Symphony, and Los Angeles Philharmonic. In addition to playing film scores in Hollywood (Jurassic Park, The Fugitive, etc.), he has played in chamber ensembles, opera orchestras, and orchestra festivals worldwide. Pokorny grew up in Downey, California, and studied tuba in Southern California with Jeffrey Reynolds, Larry Johansen, Tommy Johnson, and Roger Bobo. When he isn’t counting rests in the back row of the stage of Orchestra Hall, he may be found playing with the Do-It-Yourself Sousa Band. In recent years, he has returned to Southern California annually, giving seminars in low brass artistry at the University of Redlands. He has received an Outstanding Alumnus Award and an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Southern California and the University of Redlands, respectively.


Thomas Rolfs, Principal Trumpet, Boston Symphony Orchestra

Thomas Rolfs is principal trumpet of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, which he joined in 1999. He earned a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Minnesota and a Master of Music degree from Northwestern University. He returned to Minnesota in 1986 for a five-year tenure with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra. Rolfs has been a soloist with the Boston Symphony, Boston Pops Orchestra, and the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra. He was a featured soloist on John Williams’ Grammy-nominated soundtrack to the Academy Award-winning film Saving Private Ryan.


Mike W. Roylance, Principal Tuba, Boston Symphony Orchestra

Mike W. Roylance has been the principal tuba of the Boston Symphony Orchestra since 2003. Previously, he performed with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Minnesota Orchestra, and Seattle Symphony Orchestra. Roylance has been a featured soloist with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Boston Pops, and the U.S. Coast Guard Band. He has ushered in many new works, including his critically acclaimed premiere of Gunther Schuller’s Tuba Concerto No. 2 and his recording of Teutonic Tales, a new work for tuba written for Roylance by Robert W. Smith. On the faculty at Boston University and the New England Conservatory, as well as the Tanglewood Music Center, Roylance is an active teacher, coach, and chamber musician. He founded and directs the tuba/euphonium workshop at the Boston University Tanglewood Institute. He received his Bachelor of Music degree from Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida and his Master of Music degree at DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois.


Michael Sachs, Principal Trumpet, The Cleveland Orchestra

Michael Sachs joined the Cleveland Orchestra as principal trumpet in 1988. He has been featured frequently as soloist with the orchestra giving world premieres of John Williams’ Concerto for Trumpet, Michael Hersch’s Night Pieces for Trumpetand Orchestra, Matthias Pintscher’s Chute d’Etoiles, and the United States premiere of Hans Werner Henze's Requiem. In January 2014, Sachs was named music director of Strings Music Festival in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. He serves as chairman of the brass division and head of the trumpet department at the Cleveland Institute of Music. He is the author of The Orchestral Trumpet (a comprehensive book and CD overview of orchestral trumpet repertoire), Daily Fundamentals for the Trumpet, Mahler: Symphonic Works, Complete Trumpet Parts, and 14 Duets for Trumpet and Trombone (co-authored with principal trombone of the NY Philharmonic Joseph Alessi). Previously, he was a member of the Houston Symphony Orchestra and served on the faculty at Rice University. Originally from Los Angeles, he attended UCLA, receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree in History before attending the Juilliard School of Music. Former teachers include Mark Gould, Anthony Plog, and James Stamp.


James Sommerville, Principal Horn, Boston Symphony Orchestra

In 2014, James Sommerville completes his seventh year as music director of the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra and principal horn of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. His growing conducting career has brought recent, critically acclaimed appearances with Symphony Nova Scotia, the Edmonton Symphony, L’Orchestre symphonique de Québec, and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, among many others. Sommerville’s 25-year career as a horn soloist has seen triumphs with major orchestras throughout North America and Europe.  He also tours as a member of Osvaldo Golijov’s Andalucian Dogs. He teaches at the New England Conservatory, Boston University, and Tanglewood, and gives classes throughout Canada every year. His JUNO Award-winning disc of the Mozart Horn Concertos with the CBC Vancouver Orchestra has been widely praised; other award-winning solo recordings include the Britten Serenade for Tenor, Horn, and Strings, and Britten’s Canticle. He has premiered chamber and solo music by many composers, including Christos Hatzis, György Ligeti, and Elliot Carter, whose Horn Concerto was commissioned for him by the Boston Symphony.


Yasuhito Sugiyama, Principal Tuba, The Cleveland Orchestra

Yasuhito Sugiyama began his tenure as principal tuba of the Cleveland Orchestra in January 2006. Prior to joining the orchestra, he was a member of the Vienna State Opera Orchestra (Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra) from 2003 to 2005; New Japan Philharmonic under music director Seiji Ozawa from 1997-2003; and Saito Kinen Orchestra also under Maestro Ozawa since 1997. A native of Hyogo, Japan, Sugiyama is a graduate of Soai University in Osaka, where he studied with Shuzo Karakawa of the Osaka Philharmonic and Shigeo Takesada of the Kyoto Symphony Orchestra. He also studied chamber music with Shinichi Go, Rex Martin at Northwestern University, and with Robert Tucci of the Bavarian State Opera and the Munich Philharmonic. Sugiyama is the head tuba teacher at the Cleveland Institute of Music and Baldwin Wallace University and an adjunct teacher at Soai University.  


Robert Ward, Principal Horn, San Francisco Symphony

Robert Ward has been a part of the San Francisco classical music scene since he joined the San Francisco Symphony in 1980 as associate principal horn and played in the inaugural concert for Davies Symphony Hall. Since September 2007, he has held the position of principal horn and has performed across the United States, Europe, and Asia with the San Francisco Symphony while on tour. He can be heard on many of the San Francisco Symphony's CDs, and is a founding member of the symphonic brass group, the Bay Brass. Ward also has engaged in a number of recording activities outside the orchestra, making music with such diverse performers as Paul McCandless, Spencer Brewer, Ed Bogas, Raquel Bitton, Lisa Vroman, and the heavy metal rock group Metallica. He is on the faculty of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and the University of California at Berkeley. A native of Schenectady, New York, he received his Bachelor of Music degree from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music in 1977.


Gail Williams, Professor, Horn, Northwestern University 

Gail Williams has presented concerts, master classes, recitals, and lectures throughout North America, as well as in Europe and Asia. After 20 years with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, she is in demand as a soloist, chamber musician, and recording artist. She is currently principal horn of the Grand Teton Music Festival Orchestra and recently performed on a number of prestigious chamber music series. She is one of the founding members of the Chicago Chamber Musicians (CCM) and the Summit Brass. In addition to her eight recordings with Summit Brass, Williams can be heard on her four solo recordings, and three chamber music CDs with Daniel Perantoni and CCM. Williams is the horn professor at Northwestern University, where she has been on the faculty since 1989. She received Ithaca College's Young Distinguished Alumni Award and an Honorary Doctorate of Music, also from Ithaca College. In May 2005, she was awarded the Charles Deering McCormick Professor of Teaching Excellence from Northwestern.


Paul Yancich, Principal Timpani, The Cleveland Orchestra

Paul Yancich has served as principal timpanist of the Cleveland Orchestra since 1981 and previously had been principal timpanist of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. He is co-chair of the percussion department at the Cleveland Institute of Music and director of the institute’s Percussion Ensemble. Yancich has been a soloist with the Cleveland Orchestra, the Atlanta Symphony, and the Huntsville Symphony Orchestra. He first appeared as soloist with the orchestra in 1990, performing the world premiere of James Oliverio’s Timpani Concerto No. 1; his most recent appearances as soloist with the orchestra were in May 2013, in Johann Carl Christian Fischer’s Symphony with Eight Obbligato Timpani. Yancich is a regular clinician at leading conservatories and with Miami’s New World Symphony, and is on the faculty of the Aspen Music Festival.



John Williams

One of the most popular and successful American composers of the modern age, John Williams is the winner of five Academy Awards, 21 Grammys, four Golden Globes, four Emmys and seven BAFTA Awards from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts. With 49 Oscar nominations to date, Williams is the most nominated living person and the second-most nominated person in Academy history. Best known for his film scores and ceremonial music, Williams is also a noted conductor and acclaimed composer of concert works, including two symphonies and numerous concerti and chamber works. Williams has composed the music and served as music director for more than 100 films, including Schindler's List, Lincoln, Saving Private Ryan, Jaws, E.T. The Extra-terrestrial, all of the Star Wars and Indiana Jones films, the first three Harry Potter films, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Jurassic Park, Home Alone, Superman, Far and Away, JFK, Hook, Amistad, Seven Years in Tibet, The Book Thief, The Lost World, Rosewood, Sleepers, Nixon, Sabrina, Presumed Innocent, Always, Born on the Fourth of July, The Accidental Tourist, Empire of the Sun, The Witches of Eastwick, and Goodbye Mr. Chips.


Music for Brass by John Williams

Throughout my musical life, I’ve been instructed and inspired by the great brass players that I’ve been privileged to work with and to write for.  

Because of the breadth of their exposure to so many musical genres – classical, jazz, big band ensemble, military and brass band tradition, pop, rock ‘n roll, and on and on – our American brass players are the most versatile and finest in the world.  

The invitation to write a piece for the National Brass Ensemble gave me an opportunity to salute the members of this preeminent ensemble, and “Music for Brass” is offered as a humble tribute to their wizardry.

The piece attempts to spotlight, separately and together, the diverse groups forming the ensemble – trumpets, horns, trombones, and tubas – and I hope in some small way it might capture some of the brilliant spirit of “my friends pictured within.”  


Please note: Biographies on the CSO website are based on the information that was most recently provided to the CSO by the artists or their representatives. More current information may be available on the artists' own websites or those of their representatives.