Dallas Brass offers student outreach

Dallas Brass will share the magic of music from all different styles, for all different ages, during the group’s April 2 concert at the Scottish Rite Auditorium, 348 N. Market St., in a performance presented by the Williamsport Community Concert Association. The internationally acclaimed band, established in 1983, includes Michael Levine on trombone, D.J. Barraclough on trumpet, Luis Miguel Araya on trumpet, Juan Berrios on horn and alto horn, Paul Carlson on tuba and Ben Handel on percussion.

“It’s very fun, entertaining show. We play a good variety of music,” Levine, who also is the band’s founder and director, said. “Everything from marches and Dixieland to swing, and music from movies and music from Broadway shows. We do a little bit of classical music. It’s really a family show. And we try to make it a fun show, to make it entertaining.”

The band also will welcome area high school students to participate in a day of instruction and then join their performance that evening. Jessica Kaledas, music instructor for South Williamsport School District, is arranging the participation of local school which so far include South Williamsport, Southern Columbia and possibly Athens.

“Dallas Brass is a unique performing ensemble that will offer students tips and tricks to be better musicians and performers,” Kaledas said. “The masterclass is open to all students (woodwind, brass and percussion) as there are many similarities to performing that can cross into each music family.”

“It’s a little more involved than a masterclass,” Levine explained. “We like to involve students in our actual performance … so we work with them during the day, we do a little session or clinic. Then we rehearse with the kids and we bring them on stage to play a piece with us in the concert.”

While a few other local districts have scheduling conflicts or are unable to attend for other reasons, Kaledas said individual students also can attend as long as they have permission to be absent from school during the day and are able to attend the evening performance. As a band director and a French horn player, Kaledas is very excited to work with Dallas Brass and provide the opportunity for students.

Dallas Brass has worked with students for more than 20 years. The original idea was a “sneaky” way to get younger people to join the audience and learn more about different types of music.

“Our goal is to inspire the kids,” Levine said. “We just want to show them how much fun it is to be involved in music, to play music, to listen to good music.”

He added that “good music” emcompasses a broad variety of genres and time periods, and the masterclass and performance are meant to broaden the horizens of students who attend.

“A lot of kids will limit themselves to listening to what’s current on the radio right now, and that’s a shame to not be able to appreciate all the other great music that’s out there,” he said.

Levine said with society’s emphasis on instant gratification, Dallas Brass hopes to help young people understand the payoff to committing to a musical instrument.

“We want to try to help them see that it is worth it, that the rewards are great,” he said. “Music can be their friend for life. The better you get, the more fun it is. The more you practice, the better you get. It does take hard work but there’s a payoff for it. Things that are worth doing take some effort.”

Levine said the band members’ passion for teaching young people stems from their own experiences pursuing musical education.

“We’re all products of our teachers. We’ve been inspired and encouraged by our band directors and private teachers and the performers that we have heard and may have even met along the way. That’s what got us excited and we want to do anything we can to pay it forward and encourage the next generation to embrace music,” he said.

For more information on the concert, call 570-323-6012, email wccatickets@gmail.com or visit www.lycoming.org/wcca. Those interested in joining the student masterclass and performance should contact Jessica Kaledas at 570-326-2684 ext. 3113 or jkaledas@sawsd.org.