WAVERLY – A performance by the Septura brass septet will take place Feb. 3 at Waverly-Shell Rock Middle School.
Scoring a concert by this British brass ensemble from London is something of a coup, and it was an offer Jim Vowels couldn’t refuse.
Septura is on an two-week American tour and a concert was unexpectedly canceled, leaving an open date on the schedule. Wartburg College was contacted as a possible fill location, but venus were booked. The college still wanted Septura to perform in the Cedar Valley and reached out to Waverly-Shell Rock High School, asking “Can we make this happen?’
Vowels, a band director at the high school, was understandably thrilled by the possibility. Basketball and a robotics competition meant there was no space at the school for a concert. But the middle school auditorium – seating 700 – was open.
The Septura concert is going to happen, Vowels says.
“This is more than an outreach. It’s an opportunity for our students to hear and see professional musicians and have an experience they might not otherwise have. For our school to host something like this, that’s a big deal.”
In addition, the Waverly-Shell Rock High School Chamber Winds will share the stage with Septura and perform alongside them on a piece. “It’s like a baby band, about 30 musicians. Some of our musicians are on the basketball team, and a few others are part of the robotics team, so this is essentially a hand-picked group of some of our top players,” Vowels explains.
Rehearsals have taken place after school, and Vowels expects the ensemble to have a run-through rehearsal with Septura before the concert.
In addition to Iowa, Septura’s tour includes performances in Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas, Michigan, Ohio, Arkansas and Illinois. Members of the ensemble are the leading players in a new generation of British brass musicians holding principal positions in the London Symphony, Philharmonia, Royal Philharmonic, BBC Symphony, Basel Symphony and Aurora orchestras.
Their mission as brass pioneers is to create “a canon of transcriptions, arrangements and new commissions for this brand new classical configuration, Septura aims to re-cast the brass ensemble as a serious artistic medium.”
Players are educators, as well, teaching at the Royal Academy of Music and Royal College of Music and the Birmingham Conservatoire. As artists-in-residence at London’s Royal Academy of Music, the ensemble is making a series of 10 recordings, each focused on a period, genre and set of composers.
The first four discs, including Ravel, Faure, Debussy, Prokofiev, Rachmaninov, Handel, Brahms and others, received critical acclaim and are described as a “factual history of brass chamber music.” The fifth disc was released in November, and the sixth was recorded last summer. In addition, “Christmas with Septura,” featuring festive brass favorites, was well-received at its 2016 release.