Chestnut Brass – Childrens Concerts in Philadelphia

By Erik Petersons on May 28, 2014

Last week the Chestnut Brass Company presented a children's concert at the Free Library of Philadelphia.  Through a new partnership with the Library, PCMS continued its tradition of inviting area schools for an interactive concert.  The Quintet brought their entertaining program entitled, “Hot Air:  The Story of Brass Instruments”, showing the development from the shells and animal horns of prehistoric times to the thrilling and versatile instruments of today.

Engaging both musically and visually, the program featured over thirty brass instruments, including such rarities as sackbuts, cornetti, saxhorns, keyed bugles and the ever popular serpent.

An adventure in musical time travel, the program enabled students to hear music as it would have sounded in various historical times and helped them gain a sense of historical progression and relate music to history and science.  Here the ensemble performed an arrangement of "California Quick Step" (a popular song of the early 19th century) on period instruments.

The concert ended with a Do-It-Yourself tutorial for students to make their own instrument at home for less than $5.  They demonstrated how easy it is to make one from three parts and it sounded surprisingly like its brass counterpart.

The concert highlighted our shared vision with the library–to build "an enlightened community devoted to lifelong learning."  It was fitting then that behind the artists on stage was a banner with their logo: Free Library of Great Conversations.  The musicians engaged in a musical dialog with one anther as well as with the students, prompting discussions of everything from the mechanics of brass instruments to their uses to the journey of discovering an instrument.  In the same way reading books open up new worlds, students were encouraged to see music as another avenue to express themselves and relate to others. It was great to see these conversations have their origin at the library and hopefully many more will continue between students and their peers/teachers.