Alamosan advances to next stage in music competition

BOZEMAN, Montana — A group of Montana State University School of Music students — including a senior from Alamosa — recently advanced to the finals of the Music Teachers National Association national chamber music competition.

The Bridger Brass Quintet, supervised and coached by MSU trumpet professor Sarah Stoneback, will perform at the MTNA national conference, to be held March 17-21 at the Disney Coronado Springs Resort in Orlando, Florida. They will compete against some of the best student musicians in the country.

“The Bridger Brass Quintet represents the very best of the School of Music and the College of Arts and Architecture,” said Royce Smith, dean of MSU’s College of Arts and Architecture. “In their own right, they are extremely talented musicians who can compete with our country’s best performers. Their sheer talent makes me exceptionally proud. But, it is also their sense of camaraderie and leadership—setting a good example for and helping other growing musicians—that makes me glad that we can claim them as Bobcats.”

The quintet members include Briana Gillet, trumpet, a senior business management and music major from Bozeman, Montana; Jimmy Kelsey, trumpet, a senior music technology major from Bridger, Montana; Philip Shuler, French horn, a junior music major from Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Hayden Woods, trombone, a senior music major from Bozeman, Montana; and Marques Ceasar-Lopez, tuba, a senior music major from Alamosa.

The group performs together regularly at university functions, in the community and at local schools as part of educational outreach presentations.

“I am so impressed by what this group has been able to achieve,” said Keith Kothman, director of the School of Music. “They play with poise and artistry far beyond their years. The consistent quality of the group really speaks to the level of coaching by Sarah Stoneback, and also the teaching of our other brass faculty, Jeannie Little, low brass, and Mike Nelson, French horn.”

The MTNA performance competitions provide educational experiences for students and teachers, as well as recognize exceptionally talented young artists and their teachers in their pursuit of musical excellence. The state competitions are considered the primary educational level with the division and national levels showcasing outstanding performance and honoring significant pedagogical achievement, according to the association’s website.

“The MTNA performance competitions are the preeminent student competitions in the United States,” said Gary L. Ingle, MTNA executive director and CEO. “The exceptionally talented Bridger Brass Quintet of MSU represents the excellence and remarkable achievement that are possible when talented students and their outstanding, dedicated teachers come together to discover the boundless enjoyment, challenges and fulfillment through musical performance at the highest level.”

MTNA was founded in 1876 with the purpose of advancing the value of music study and music-making to society while supporting the careers and professionalism of teachers of music.

“The members of Bridger Brass have worked so hard to come together as an ensemble,” Stoneback said. “The group itself is only in its second year. And, there are two new members this year. Still, in performance, they are able to transcend the notes on the page, offering a musical experience all their own. I couldn’t be more excited for them.”

Caption: Bridger Brass Quintet members, clockwise from top left, Jimmy Kelsey, Marques Ceasar-Lopez, Hayden Woods, Philip Shuler and Briana Gillet will participate in the Music Teachers National Association chamber music competition finals in March 2018. Courtesy photo