By Lisa Capobianco
Last year, the 2nd Annual Southington Brass Blast brought about 300 brass instrument players together, all from different towns and generations for one goal, to support children and music education.
“It’s a universal experience for folks,” said Erik Semmel, who organizes the brass festival. “Multi-generations all come together.”
Since 2012, the Brass Blast has raised money for several organizations, including The Mill Foundation for Kids, Southington High School Band Backers and Connecticut Music Educators Association (CMEA). Last year, the festival, hosted by the Southington Brass, raised over $6,000 for these organizations.
The Southington Brass Blast is not only a brass festival, but is also a Guinness World Record attempt for the largest trumpet ensemble and concert which needs at least 1,167 trumpeters to break the record. Semmel said he hopes more people sign up for the event this year.
Semmel said brass players of all levels are welcome to participate in the event.
“You can do it at any age,” said Semmel, adding that the event can help bring the magic of music back for people who have not picked up their brass instrument in years. “It’s something you can do forever.”
Brass players performing in the festival will perform four different pieces of music, including songs from the band Chicago and the movie “Rocky,” as well as the Uconn “fight” song. Band Director Tim Johnson from Kennedy Middle School wrote the music for the festival, tailoring to all levels of brass musicians. Playing the trumpet since elementary school, Johnson will direct the ensemble during the Brass Blast. His sons, now in high school, will also perform.
Johnson said he hopes the sound of the music itself will bring inspiration to all.
“It can evoke an emotional response,” said Johnson, adding that the festival itself serves as way for the performers to give back to the community while doing what they love. “It’s an event that we want to do, not that we have to do.”
The event will also feature an additional performance by No BS! Brass, a brass brand from Virginia that draws inspiration from an eclectic mix, including jazz, funk, calypso, klezmer and Led Zepplin. The Brass Blast will take place on Saturday, April 26 at Southington High School. Deadline for registration is April 14, and the event is free and open to the public for those interested in watching the performance. The music is available online for registered participants to practice beforehand.
“Don’t be afraid to register if you think you’re not up to the task,” said Johnson, adding that the music is written for musicians of all levels.
For Semmel, starting Southington Brass in 2010 served as a way to give back to music education, since he himself had a passion for playing trumpet since fourth grade. Semmel said he wanted to “use music as a way to give back to the community.”
Southington Brass, comprised of at least 20 members, is a group of trumpet players connected by friendship and family ties, with the goal of supporting the community through a passion for music, offering fundraising and entertainment while mentoring young musicians.
“Band directors touch the lives of so many kids,” said Semmel, adding that Southington Brass has members of all ages. “It’s important to promote what they do.”
“We’re expanding our group now,” added Johnson. “It’s a way to connect with our kids.”
To register for Brass Blast or for more information about the event, visit http://www.southingtonbrass.com/.
By Lisa Capobianco