Making Statements: An Interview With Abbie Conant

We are thrilled to have been able to conduct an interview with the fabulous Abbie Conant. Abbie famously fought the Munich Philharmonic for 11 years in court to be solo trombone and now performs groundbreaking multidisciplinary works. She has been a pleasure to work with on this interview!

About Abbie Conant

abbie clearAward-winning Performance artist and Juilliard-trained trombonist Abbie Conant is somewhat of a legend in the international orchestral brass world. The story of her epic fight and ultimate victory against egregious gender discrimination in the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra, where she won the position for principal trombone at a screened audition in 1980, inspired author Malcolm Gladwell to write the NY Times Bestseller, Blink, where Ms. Conant’s story is detailed in the last chapter. The 11-year-long court battle was documented by composer/musicologist/activist, William Osborne, in an article entitled “You Sound Like a Ladies’ Orchestra.” The document is supported by actual court records and experiences in the orchestra with 89 footnotes. This source document has generated countless newspaper and magazine article (Der Spiegel, {the German analog to Time Magazine}, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, etc.) as well as a documentary film, (Abbie Conant, Alone Among Men by Brenda Parkerson), a play produced at the Landestheater Linz, Austria by Award-winning British playwright, Tamssin Oglesby called, Der (eingebildeter) Frauenfeind, (The [Concieted] Misogynist) and a screen play for a feature film in the works by Canadian writer/producer Dale Wolf.

After winning her lengthy court case, Ms. Conant won a full-tenured Professorship at the University of Music in Trossingen, Germany and left the orchestra in 1993. Abbie Conant has performed instrumental music theater works with surround sound electronics in over 150 different cities around the world. She has given masterclasses in as many esteemed music institution such as The Juilliard School, The Eastman School, New England Conservatory, Yale School of Music, Indiana University, Royal Northern College of Music, the Academy of Music and Drama in Gothenburg, Sweden, DePaul, CalArts, McGill, Oberlin and many others. In collaboration with composer/husband William Osborne, the pair has created a new genre of chamber music theater. They have produced five evening-length chamber operas for singing/acting trombonist.

Interview

1. Your story of battling sexism and discrimination in the orchestra world with the Munich Philharmonic is unbelievable, yet your strength and determination (and great playing of course!) paved the way for many discussions and policies on sexism in the brass world. Have your thoughts on that experience changed in any way? Especially in light of recent events in classical music and political culture with harassment and this kind of behavior being less tolerated in the public eye? Continue reading

Auditions, Caruso, and Music From the Heart: A Conversation with Julie Landsman

We are excited to have recently conducted an interview over the phone with the incomparable Julie Landsman! Julie was a joy to speak with and offered, unsurprisingly, a wealth of advice and information informed by her career.

About Julie Landsman

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Principal horn with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra for 25 years, Julie Landsman is a distinguished performing artist and educator. She achieved her dream of becoming principal of the MET in 1985 and held that position until 2010, and has served as a member of the Juilliard faculty since 1989.

Landsman is a current member of the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra and has performed and recorded with the Metropolitan Opera and the New York Philharmonic. Additionally, she has performed as co-principal with the Houston Symphony, as substitute principal with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, and recently with The Philadelphia Orchestra as associate principal, and the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra as principal.

Her students hold positions in the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, Philadelphia Orchestra, Cincinnati Symphony, San Francisco Opera and Ballet Orchestras, Washington National Opera Orchestra, Dallas Symphony, St. Louis Symphony, New Jersey Symphony, Colorado Symphony, Rochester Philharmonic, and the American Brass Quintet. She recently received the “Pioneer Award” from the International Women’s Brass Conference and was a featured artist at the International Horn Society Conference in 2012 and 2015. Her recent series of Carmine Caruso lessons on YouTube have led to further fame and renown among today’s generation of horn players. Landsman currently resides in Nyack, New York.

 

Interview

Brass Chicks: Your career has been incredible and has taken you all over the world. What was the process of winning your position at the MET and becoming the first woman in the brass section of that orchestra like?

Julie Landsman: Winning an audition at the MET was one of the greatest experiences of my life. The audition was 100% behind a screen – anonymous – and it’s documented in a very famous book called Blink by Malcolm Gladwell. The last chapter describes the details of  my audition. The men who voted for me had no idea who I was or that I would become the first female brass member of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra.

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Interview with Trumpeter Nadje Noordhuis

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Combining cinema sweep, transportive emotion, and rich melodic grandeur, Australian-­born trumpeter/composer Nadje Noordhuis possesses one of the most unforgettably lyrical voices in modern music. Her deeply-­felt, clarion tone and evocative compositional gift meld classical rigor, jazz expression, and world music accents into a sound that is distinctively her own. Noordhuis was one of ten semi-­‐finalists in the 2007 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Trumpet Competition and was selected as a Carnegie Hall Young Artist to undertake a weeklong residency with trumpet great Dave Douglas in 2010. Recent engagements include a yearly week-­long run at New York’s Village Vanguard with Rudy Royston’s 303, performances with the Grammy-­winning Maria Schneider Orchestra, performances at jazz festivals in Europe, Canada and Brazil with Grammy-­nominated Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society, and regular appearances with her group at the historic 55 Bar in Greenwich Village.

1. Tell us a little about yourself and what you do.

I’m a trumpet player and composer, mainly in the jazz realm. Continue reading

Interview With Tiffany Hoffer

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Staff Sergeant Tiffany Hoffer earned a Master of Music degree from the Manhattan School of Music and a Bachelor of Music degree from Indiana University. Prior to joining The U.S. Army Field Band in 2016, SSG Hoffer was an active freelancer in New York City, performing with various ensembles such as the Park Avenue Chamber Symphony, Richmond County Orchestra, and the Patriot Brass Ensemble. She has attended music festivals around the country, including Spoleto Festival USA, Aspen Music Festival, Chosen Vale International Trumpet Seminar, and the Rafael Mendez Brass Institute. She has also been a semi-finalist several times in the National Trumpet Competition’s high school, undergraduate, and graduate solo divisions. SSG Hoffer’s primary teachers include Vincent Penzarella, John Rommel, and her own father, Gil Hoffer.


1. Tell us a little about yourself and what you do. What group are you in? How long have you been in it?  Continue reading

Interview with Adrienne Doctor

Kate originally met Adrienne on a gig in the DC area and it was so great to hear from her in this interview. Adrienne has been doing great things in the DMV area and we are so excited to feature her here with the Brass Chicks community.

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Adrienne Doctor is a trumpet player residing in the Washington DC area where she is a member of a premier military band. An active freelance musician and teacher, she has performed with Monarch Brass, the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra, Dayton Philharmonic, the Virginia Symphony Orchestra, the Richmond IN Symphony Orchestra, the Kentucky Symphony Orchestra, and the Ars Nova Chamber Orchestra. She has given masterclasses at Duquesne University, Columbus State University, the University of Maryland, and various high schools around the country. Doctor has performed as a soloist at the Music For All National Summer Symposium, with the Seven Hills Sinfonietta, and the Ars Nova Chamber Orchestra. She attended the Pierre Monteux School for Conductors and Orchestra Musicians in 2010 and 2011 and the Bar Harbor Brass Institute in 2013. Her primary teachers include Philip Collins, Alan Siebert, and Roger Sherman. She resides in northern Virginia with her husband and two cats.

1. Tell us a little about yourself and what you do. What group are you in?

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An Interview with Alaina Alster

We are so excited to start featuring interviews from members of military groups across the country! Our first interview is with trombonist Alaina Alster who is a member of the West Point Band here in New York. Thank you Alaina for sharing your time and thoughts with the Brass Chicks community!

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Trombonist Alaina Alster has been a member of the West Point Band since 2013.

Prior to joining the West Point Band, Alaina was an active freelance musician in New York City where she enjoyed a career performing a wide range of musical genres.  She is also a music educator and has worked as a teaching artist for the Phil Ramone Orchestra for Children, as well as a private music instructor.
Originally from Long Island, NY, Alaina began playing the trombone at the age of nine, but shortly after beginning switched to Euphonium.  When she turned twelve she picked up trombone again and began pursing both instruments.  In 2002 she was accepted  to the University of Michigan as a double major in trombone and euphonium performance where she studied with David Jackson and Fritz Kaenzig.  Alaina received her Masters in trombone performance from the Manhattan School of Music in 2010 and studied with Stephen Norrell.


1. Tell us a little about yourself and what you do. What group are you in? 

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An Interview with Mariachi Flor de Toloache: NYC’s First and Only All-Women Mariachi Group

We are excited to continue to interview trailblazing female musicians who continue to push boundaries and inspire musicians everywhere. This group has been on my radar for a while and it was so great to hear from Mireya from Mariachi Flor de Toloache – about her experiences with the group and changing the musical landscape.

Latin Grammy Nominees Mariachi Flor de Toloache make New York City history as its’ First and Only All­-Women Mariachi Group. Founded in 2008, Mariachi Flor de Toloache is lead by singers Mireya I. Ramos (founder) & Shae Fiol (founding member). Reminiscent of the early days of mariachi the group started as a trio, Harp, Violin and Vihuela. Today, Mariachi Flor De Toloache performs as a full Mariachi ensemble. The members hail from diverse cultural backgrounds such as Mexico, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Cuba, Australia, Colombia, Germany, Italy and the United States. This defines their unique flavor and sound. The result of this cultural bouquet is an edgy, versatile and fresh take on traditional Mexican music. They coalesce as would a band of sisters, with a grace and vibrant beauty that casts a spell over their audiences not unlike the legendary Toloache flower still being used in Mexico as a love potion. While working to preserve centuries old traditions of Mariachi, their melange of the traditional and the modern pushes the boundaries of the genre and brings Mariachi music to new audiences.

Read their complete bio here 

1. From the Latin Grammy nomination to the upcoming and recent tours, Mariachi Flor de Toloache is extremely impressive as NYC’s first and only Mariachi group. Tell us about your experiences! Anything coming up soon?

It has been quite a beautiful and empowering adventure. We started in 2008 knowing we wanted to experiment with the tradition of mariachi which had been passed down by my dad. Little did we know that by being persistent, playing for tips, playing in the subway in the middle of winter, dealing with much criticism for not following the tradition as is, it would all lead to being nominated for our first self produced album then recently nominated again for our second album. It’s definitely mind blowing how much you can accomplish when you’re persistent, true to yourself, passionate and follow your vision. More important than the recognition of an award, is the continuous inspiration we spread to young girls and boys. Seeing them singing along to our songs and connecting to our music is priceless!

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Interview with Natalie Cressman

We are excited to continue our new series featuring women brass players who push boundaries and play outside the box of a standard path for a “conservatory trained musician.” Our first interview features trombonist Natalie Cressman, whom Kate has met freelancing in NYC and it was such a pleasure to read her responses.

7302c6_07ff388914e74c3ba9455dac1d0f20f3Possessing a voice as cool and crystalline as an Alpine stream, Natalie Cressman is a rising singer/ songwriter and trombonist who draws inspiration from a vast array of deep and powerful musical currents. Her new five-song EP Traces reveals her latest evolution, a sleek and sensuous electronica-laced sound with even a trace or two of dance floor sweat. Steadily evolving in many directions, the 25-year-old Cressman has already put down deep roots in several overlapping scenes. A prodigiously talented New York City-based trombonist, she’s spent the past seven years touring the jam band circuit as a horn player and vocalist with Phish‘s Trey Anastasio (and recently played with Phish at Madison Square Garden). Deeply versed in Latin jazz, post-bop, pop, and Brazilian music, she tapped the interlaced traditions on her first two solo albums, 2012’s Unfolding and 2014’s Turn the Sea. The Traces EP follows on the heels of 2016’s Etchings in Amber, a gorgeous duo album with guitarist Mike Bono that introduced Cressman as a formidable musical force without her horn. While the project focuses on songs featuring lyrics she wrote for several Bono compositions, Cressman also wrote words and music for three of her songs, contributing to the atmospheric suite of jazz-inflected, genre-bending tunes. With Traces, Cressman expands her creative reach into post-production, meticulously crafting soundscaped tracks. Her vocal work in increasingly intimate and rhythmically insinuating settings has revealed an artist who can thrive in any setting, from raucous, reverberant halls to packed and pulsing lofts and nightclubs. In an epoch marked by infinite musical possibilities, Natalie Cressman is a singular force who draws from an improbable breadth of sonic realms. Cressman is An artist endorser for King Trombones.

1. From your background in jazz and latin music to playing in the jam band scene with Phish and Trey Anastasio band, it certainly seems like you are a well rounded musician. How did you get started with your own work as a composer/singer-songwriter?

I started writing in high school here and there but I didn’t get fully into it until I moved to NYC to go to college and had opportunities every week to bring in original music and hear it played by my combo. Continue reading

An Interview with Lori Eure

This week at Brass Chicks, we are pleased to share an interview with Lori Eure. Lori is a singer, actor, musician, and dancer, who also doubles on a variety of instruments. In the recent Cabaret national tour, she performed on trumpet, horn, euphonium, and accordion, in addition to singing, acting, and dancing. A true quadruple threat, Lori has a unique perspective on musicianship and artistic life.

About Lori Eure

headshot 3 .jpgLori Eure, originally from North Carolina, currently lives in New York, NY. Lori is a singer, actor, musician, and dancer. Some theatre credits include: Broadway: Cabaret (at the infamous Studio 54) Sally Bowles understudy/Kit Kat Girl. National tour: Cabaret. Regional Theatre: Ring of FireThe Buddy Holly Story, Wonderland, We Will Rock You (Las Vegas Cast), Beehive at The Kennedy Center, Annie, and Guys-n-Dolls. TV credits include: The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and Spin City. Lori gives much thanks and love to her family and friends. “Life and love go on… Let the music play!”

From Ravelle Brickman’s review of Cabaret in DC Metro Theatre Arts:
“…Some of the stand-outs are Lori Eure, who cavorts on a bannister while playing a mean French horn, plus a gaggle of sax players, horns and strings, clarinets, accordions and drums and even a banjo.”

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An Interview with Caroline Steiger

This week, we are excited to share an interview with Dr. Caroline Steiger, Assistant Professor of Music and Artist/Teacher of Horn at Texas State University.  We love her thoughts on education and the changing nature of the music world!

About Caroline Steiger

Dr. SteigerDr. Caroline Steiger is an active teacher, clinician, and performer both in large and small ensemble settings. Caroline grew up in Southeast Michigan and went on to study at the University of Michigan, earning a B.M. in Horn performance with Teacher Certification in 2010, Penn State University where she earned her M.M. in Horn Performance, and the University of Michigan, earning her D.M.A. in performance in 2015.

Dr. Steiger is currently the Assistant Professor of Music and Artist/Teacher of Horn at Texas State University in San Marcos, TX. She has held positions at SUNY Potsdam’s Crane School of Music (Visiting Assistant Professor of Horn, 2014), Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp (Horn Instructor, Summer 2017), Penn State University (Teacher Assistant), and the University of Michigan (Graduate Student Assistant). Several of her students have gone on to study music at the undergraduate and graduate level, while her high school and middle school students have participated in State Solo and Ensemble (MI) as well as the Michigan Youth Arts Festival. While at Penn State University, Caroline was the Assistant Director of the Penn State Horn Ensemble and helped plan tours that included performances at the Pennsylvania Music Educator’s Association (PMEA) conference, Lancaster, and Hershey, PA.

Dr. Steiger’s work as a musician includes regular performances with the Mid-Texas Symphony and Round Rock Symphony Orchestras. She has played with the San Antonio Symphony, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Detroit Chamber Winds and Strings, Toledo Symphony Orchestra, and the Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra during their 2015 US tour. In addition, Caroline has held Principal positions with the Dearborn Symphony (Dearborn, MI), Adrian Symphony (Adrian, MI), Rochester Symphony (Rochester, MI), Oakland Symphony (Rochester, MI), Orchestra of Northern New York (Potsdam, NY), and the Northern Symphonic Winds (Potsdam, NY). Caroline has performed in great halls across the country, including Carnegie Hall, Orchestra Hall in Detroit, Heinz Hall in Pittsburgh, the Music Center at Strathmore in Bethesda, and Hill Auditorium in Ann Arbor, getting a chance to work with conductors such as Valery Gergiev, Leonard Slatkin, Sebastian Lang-Lessing, Stefan Sanderling, Lio Kuokman, Karina Canellakis, and Giordano Bellincampi.

Committed to chamber music, Caroline has played with the Potsdam Brass Quintet, faculty quintet-in-residence at SUNY Potsdam, the Emblems Woodwind Quintet, an Ann Arbor-based quintet focused on performing new and underrepresented works, and in 2015 participated in a chamber music residency at the University of Michigan with New York Philharmonic principal winds where she performed with Philip Myers.

Dr. Steiger’s main teachers include Adam Unsworth, Bryan Kennedy, Lisa Bontrager, Soren Hermansson, and Corbin Wagner. She has also studied with and participated in masterclasses with Gail Williams, Fergus McWilliam, David Krehbiel, Robert Ward, Bernhard Scully, and Jeffrey Lang.

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