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NYSB / Mnozil Brass Concert Report

NYSB Festival with Mnozil Brass
February 23, 2018

The air was damp on a moderately warm Friday Manhattan evening.  The Centennial Memorial Temple had a distinct murmur.  While the New York Staff Band has played and recorded in the hall numerous times, this would truly be a program no one in attendance will soon forget.

Different from most shared festivals in The Salvation Army, the New York Staff Band played a six piece set to open the concert.  From their position in the house directly in front of the stage, the fluttering sixteenth note runs of the cornets could be heard on Joel Collier’s scintillating opener, Thy Matchless King.  The rest of the band quickly joined in the fun with Martin Cordner’s Semper Fidelis, written for the Australia Territorial Youth Band a couple of years ago.  The featured piece of the New York Staff Band’s set was the world premiere performance of Fearless, by the 2017 NYSB Composer Contest Winner, Andrew Wainwright.  This piece, approximately eight minutes in length, along with a few others heard this evening, will be featured on the upcoming Japan Tour Recording of the NYSB, entitled Endless Power.  Rounding out the NYSB’s contribution to the program were And My Soul Overflows, by David Chaulk – the evergreen Red Shield march by Henry Goffin, and of course, New York, New York (arr. Goff Richards).

I am not sure words can describe what was to follow.  Those who have seen Mnozil Brass in concert would probably tell you that you simply cannot encapsulate the experience in short statements.  Three trumpeters, three trombone players, and a tubist led us literally through a musical circus that left the audience wanting for more.  Many in attendance would recognize the sources of many of the songs or partial songs that were played.  The music of Igor Stravinsky’s Firebird, Kurt Weill, and others were played with the highest musical excellence.  Mnozil simply is the best combination of musical excellence AND comedic relief you are going to find.  Their shtick is universal; garnering the same acclaim in New York City that they have received around the world.  If there is one bit that Mnozil Brass is most famous for, it is probably their performance of Lonely Boy.  They performed this one-man-band act in full circus gear towards the end of the second half to the audience’s delight. This program was edgy, but as the hour approached 10:30 PM, the audience around me clearly did not realize that the overall length of the program was just under three hours.  Mnozil Brass clearly had the audience right in the palm of their hands.

This was a wonderful concert and one that will not soon be forgotten.

Eric R. Dina
Divisional Music Director – Northeast Ohio Division of The Salvation Army