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The all-American big band experience

Dallas Brass comes to the Emma Kelly stage


February 23, 2016

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    They’ve toured nationwide and overseas, their set is comprised of both classical masterpieces and contemporary songs, and they’ve performed at both Carnegie Hall and The John F. Kennedy Center. Now, Dallas Brass, the internationally acclaimed music ensemble, will find themselves in Statesboro performing a range of compositions illustrating the growth and evolution of American music. 
    Comprised of traditional brass instruments and accompanied by drums and percussions, Dallas Brass has entertained general audiences for over 30 years with sets showcasing a distinct mix of swing, Dixieland, Broadway and patriotic music. 
    “I like to think of it as a fun, down-home show. We essentially trace American music from the time of George Washington to the present day,” Michael Levine, founder of Dallas Brass, said. “We try to do as big of a variety as we can. We’re playing a lot of music that people don’t often hear in their lives. You don’t turn in the radio and hear George Gershwin, or Leonard Bernstein, or Scott Joplin — some of these great names in American music. We’re trying to really pay tribute to a lot of these people and the history of American music.”
    Levine, who is a trombonist trained in classical music, founded the group in 1983 as a means to play gigs around Dallas.  
    “We played weekly weddings, grand openings, cocktail parties and all these other social events. We were primarily functioning as background music. That was a lot of fun, but after a year or so doing that, I just got antsy and wanted to play more for people who were listening,” Levine said. 
    Levine restructured the ensemble as a concert group and found an agent, playing shows soon afterward. They toured all over Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas before eventually spreading out across the whole country. So far, they’ve traveled to every state except Hawaii. 
    One of Levine’s primary goals before each show is ensuring the audience has a fun time. To that end, Dallas Brass has incorporated elements of theatre into their performances to make it more visually interesting.
    “We do a little bit of lighting, and we move around a little bit. It’s not extravagant, but we’re not just going to sit there and stand at the music stands for two hours. We talk to the audience. We tell them a little bit about the piece and composer. We try to do it in a fun way. You’re just getting some little tidbits, some little trivia and some interesting fun facts. We concentrate on a lot of these things that will add some frosting to the cake,” Levine said. “We want people to smile, we want them to laugh, and we want to touch as many emotions as we can.” 
    The members of Dallas Brass have also devoted a tremendous amount of time educating students as well. They’ve traveled to numerous schools across the nation, workshopping and imparting tips of the trade to students. Their work in Statesboro will include workshopping with band students from Southeast Bulloch High School. In addition, Dallas Brass will hold a master class with Georgia Southern students the following day. 
    “Music has enriched our lives," Levine said. "We believe that music enriches people’s lives, so we want to get kids excited about playing music, listening to music, appreciating different styles of music. It’s all about music appreciation. We want to inspire the kids, just like other people inspired us. That’s what our student mission is all about."  
    Statesboro residents can expect to see Dallas Brass perform at the Averitt Center on March 4 at 7:30 p.m.
    “Dallas Brass has a wonderful reputation for doing great work with students and putting on a fabulous show, and we are always eager to bring such groups to our community,” Brandi Harvey, program development director for the Averitt Center, said.

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