Glance back a year or so. You’re a skilled musician attached to playing French horn. You observe that most of your community is twisted up in the many discomforts imposed by the Covid pandemic. Wouldn’t you expect instinct and reason to suck the air out of any consideration that broaches the notion of forming a trendy new women’s brass ensemble?
Apparently the West Coast has lacked such a musical entity for quite some time. Traditionally, most brass ensembles have favored more classical repertoires—not musical menus peppered with Latin spice, pop favorites, jazz standards, and yes, special classical pieces boasting clever adaptations.
Plus, a brass-blowing musical group comprised of all women performers is hardly the norm.
Never mind that it would certainly add curious notes to any project labeled as a traditional brass quintet if the venture included additional musicians such as a percussion player and vocalist. Especially if the septet called itself Blugene Brass Quintet.
Full-speed ahead into contrarian musical winds.
“It’s been real therapy for us,” says Sheri Pyron, French horn player and unofficial Quintet promoter. “We saw the pandemic as an opportunity, not as a hardship. It gave us the chance to get together and play consistently, to really buckle down and work hard.” Per Pyron, it also afforded the ensemble a chance to establish a stable membership roster.
Pyron’s half-dozen Quintet partners boast musical credentials that jointly include the Eugene Symphony, high school band leadership, UO music grad studies, Oregon Brass Society, and The Shedd. The players are Sarah Viens and Carla Lamb (trumpets), Cari Earnhardt (tuba), Shira Fadely (trombone), Julie Bounds (percussion), and Sarah B. Rove (vocalist).
The Quintet is currently looking at perhaps eight to 10 shows a year. Their performance history has included smaller venues like churches, cafes, and weddings. They’ve also played large church events and cemetery ceremonies. Wishes for the near future include adding winery and festival gigs.
Pyron confesses there may be some hip and nerdish undertones subtly imbedded in Blugene style. “We’re very disciplined,” she says. “And we’re very serious about what we do. But we play really fun music!”