Monday, January 30, 2017

Gaudete Brass Quintet

     This blog post is on the Gaudete Brass Quintet based in Chicago, Il. Gaudete was founded by mostly grad students from Roosevelt University in 2004.

     Their mission statement is as follows:

     "Founded in 2004, the Gaudete Brass Quintet is devoted to presenting serious brass chamber music at the highest level of excellence and to encouraging worldwide appreciation of the art of brass chamber music through live performances, recordings, education, and the creation of new works.
The quintet has been featured on concert series, radio broadcasts and at universities throughout the country."

     I have had the pleasure of playing with all of the members of Guadete at one time or another freelancing in Chicago. Scott, Paul, Brian, and their former trumpeter Ryan Berndt and myself were part of the founding brass section for the Chicago Composer's Orchestra that formed in 2010. Please check them out if you are inclined. They are an orchestra devoted entirely to performing works by living composers. Their website is

     Speaking of performing works by living composers; this is largely how Gaudete has laid their foundation. To me, their name is synonymous with commissioning new works for brass quintet by established composers (like David Sampson), to composers just getting their careers started. Their was a period when I was living in Chicago that every concert they played seemed to have a new piece on it. Around 2014 they did a concert at Roosevelt that had four newly composed fanfares.I will be interviewing Paul Van Hoff (the trombonist in the group) to discuss more about why they decided to take this approach. I will say brass quintets everywhere are lucky to have Gaudete leading the charge in getting new works composed for brass quintet.

     Most people do not understand the huge undertaking of starting a brass quintet for purposes other than  gigging. The idea that you can start a chamber group that is taken seriously by chamber music presenters around the country/world is not an easy task. For those that are uninitiated, the chamber music scene is largely filled with string quartets and piano trios. When I talked with presenters during my time in Axiom we were usually the first brass quintet they had ever booked, and they were always concerned that their audiences would not show up due to the lack of familiarity.

     The reality of the situation was that most of the presenters simply did not believe that their audiences would be interested in an entire evening devoted to brass music. Presenters often had very little knowledge of the repertoire out their for brass quintets and generally associate them with loud raucous playing. I would often get comments like "I can't believe how soft you guys could play".

I'm very much looking forward to interviewing Paul later in the spring, and until than I leave you with a video of Gaudete performing a fanfare by Joan Tower.


My beer pairing for Gaudete is

Image result for Matilda Goose Island

   Goose Island was the first Chicago brewery that I heard about when I moved to Chicago in 2007. I love Matilda, but the first beer I ever had by Goose Island was their 312. It was after a concert at Harris Theater in the loop, and I ordered it at a swank down town bar with no prices listed on the menu. As a sophomore at Roosevelt with no money I can say that was a learning experience. I think I spent all my money paying for that pitcher. Cheers!

Monday, January 23, 2017


     Hi Everyone, and welcome to my new blog; Brass Ensembles and Everything Related (B.E.E.R). This blog's genesis is from the Advanced Brass Ensemble Literature class taught by Professor Manning at the University of Iowa. (I also need to credit the title of my blog to Professor Manning, clearly a gifted individual). I will be talking about all things brass ensemble related and throw out a solid beer recommendation at the end of each blog.

     So, I thought I would kick off my very first blog post ever introducing myself. My name is Caleb Lambert and among other things I am a trombonist and beer enthusiast currently enrolled in the D.M.A program at the University of Iowa, and a member of the trombone section in Orchestra Iowa. BUT.....  before living this sweet Iowa city lifestyle my first steady gig was playing trombone, euphonium and bass trumpet with the Axiom Brass Quintet in Chicago, Il from 2012-2014.

     Playing in Axiom exposed me to a lot of different types of playing and traveling opportunities that I will cherish for the rest of my life. Highlights of my tenure include winning the Passau International Brass Competition in Germany (first American ensemble to do so), spending a week in the Dominican Republic, touring the western united states culminating with a week residency in the Grand Tetons in Jackson hole, WY, spending a month in the Berkshires at the Tanglewood Festival, and many more.

     For me, one of the greatest joys playing in Axiom brought into my life was the direct connection I felt I was making with the audience. When you play in a brass quintet you are 1/5 the ensemble. You play every movement of every piece. Especially, speaking as trombone player here, unless you are playing the tuba solo in Pictures at an Exhibition, or the trombone solo from Mahler's third symphony it is pretty common to go unnoticed in an orchestra concert. Is this an ego thing? Most definitely. But isn't that why we all got into music in the first place? To connect with people, to share our talents, and express ourselves? I should mention now that I love my job with Orchestra Iowa. It is deeply rewarding work on many levels, and my colleagues are truly wonderful. But I loved it when people came up to me and talked about the solo I had in the second movement of Malcolm Arnold's quintet, or asked me what the hell a bass trumpet is, or commented on how surprised they were when I started playing sixteenth notes. It's a different world from my orchestra life.

     On that note, I will leave you with this video that was recorded in the Dominican Republic in 2012.  The piece we are playing is one every child in the Dominican Republic knows by heart, so they are singing with us. Also super funny at the end when the girl covers her ears as the trumpets fanfare it up... because trumpets...gross.

     As promised my beer pick for this post is.....................................................................

      PRESIDENTE! They love this stuff in the Dominican Republic. They served them ice cold and with a napkin around the bottle so your hands didn't warm the beer.You can find it stateside, but something tells me it won't be as good as actually drinking one when you are sweating your ass off on the beach in the DR. Cheers!

     Thanks for checking out my first post. I am feeling oddly nervous/excited for everyone to read my writing (sorry about the typos, I swear I proofread this post 1,000,000 times.)  Also please comment with either brass ensembles I should be checking out and what beers are catching your fancy. My next post will be on my good friends and former fellow Chicago brass quintet; Gaudete Brass Quintet.