The outreach program of the Arkansas Valley Community Concert Association offers free programs to all the surrounding area schools. When Junior Molina at Fowler heard about the opportunity to see a performance of a world famous brass quintet at the Ed Stafford Theatre on the Otero Junior College campus, he knew just the class he wanted to take to the performance of the Alliance Brass.
He wanted to take his junior high students, because there were so many brass players in that class. So he went to the principal, Russel Bates, and asked. Bates and Tom Hartless arranged the bus trip. Linda True, a bus driver for Fowler, was happy to be the driver, since she has a grandchild in the group and really wanted that group to hear a real professional brass group.
The whole Arkansas Valley loves Alliance Brass. Students from Fowler, Rocky Ford, Las Animas, Pioneer Christian and La Junta Home Schoolers made an enthusiastic audience for Alliance’s performance. This is the third time Alliance Brass has been a presentation of the Arkansas Valley Community Concerts, said Chris O’Hara, trumpet and apparent leader of the group. O’Hara and Kelly Langenburg, French horn, said this is their favorite venue and audience.
It is their favorite audience because they like enthusiasm - and they got it from both audiences, the kids and the grown-ups. Their play list was all-time favorites, and one classical piece from “The Red Poppy,” a ballet by Russian Composer Rheinhold Gliere. It was the “Russian Sallor’s Dance,” a bright brass introduction to their concert, with solo parts for different instruments. Cheering and clapping were encouraged and rampant in both audiences.
For the kids, Alliance performed the “Russian Sailor’s Dance,” the “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Freddie Mercury, “Fistful of Dollars” by Ennio Marricone, “Star Wars Suite” by John Williams and “When the Saints Go Marchin’ In.”
For both audiences, the musicians gave short accounts of their careers and where they have played, which is pretty much all over the United States and a good part of the world. Four of them - Amy Nelson, Chris Ohara, and the Langenbergs, came from in and around the Chicago area, where there has been a happening music scene for at least a century. Steve Duncan is from Florida.
O’Hara explained to the kids how he achieved his ambition of playing the trumpet for a living. It was always his goal, since high school. He said, “To follow your dream, you have to set a goal, and then set a lot of little goals along the way. I chose a college that encouraged brass quintets, then I chose all the steps that would result in what I am doing today. Choose what you want to do, then the goals that will get you there.”
The questions from the kids included, “Why did you choose music?” Amy Lingergren answered that one, “What would your life be like without music?” and gave examples of the all-pervasiveness of music in our lives.
“How did you make your alliance?” was another question. O’Hara answered that one, “Some of these musicians I have known since college, and some I met playing gigs. Gigs are what we call a performance.” The members of the Alliance Brass have impressive backgrounds, touring with Broadway plays, performing in symphony orchestras, touring with other musicians, appearing in other countries, serving on university musical faculties. Jim Langenberg has an instrument repair shop and gave some tips on cleaning instruments and taking care of them. He and his wife, Amy, live in Elgin, Illinois, and have twin daughters.
It’s no wonder this group comes across as real people as well as traveling musicians. The teachers who brought their students, especially Molina and the junior high brass players, thought it well worth their time. “We left at 12:30 and were back by 3 p.m.,” said Molina.