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Former Members Biographies

David Wakefield, horn (1976-2014)

David Wakefield joined the American Brass Quintet in 1976 while he was a doctoral student at The Juilliard School. A member of the Aspen Music School faculty since 1976 and the Juilliard School faculty since 1987, and the Hartt School since 2011, he also served as Associate Dean for Performance Activities at The Juilliard School. Principal horn of the Little Orchestra Society, Mr. Wakefield has performed with the New York, Vienna, and Brooklyn Philharmonics, Houston Symphony, and regularly with the Orchestra of St. Luke's, the New York City Opera, and the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra. He has premiered over 250 new works and worked closely with such composers as Milton Babbitt, Luciano Berio, Elliott Carter, John Corigliano, Jacob Druckman, Eric Ewazen, George Tsontakis, and Charles Wuorinen.

Raymond Mase, trumpet (1973-2013)

Trumpeter Raymond Mase has been a member of the American Brass Quintet since 1973 and is responsible for many of the ABQ's performance editions and recordings of 16th-, 17th-, and 19th-century brass music. He is also a founding member of the Summit Brass and principal trumpeter of the New York City Ballet Orchestra. Mr. Mase can be heard on well over one hundred recordings, including as soloist on the Albany, Deutsche Grammophon, Summit, Koch, Cambria, Troy, MHS, and Furious Artisans labels. In addition to his performing and teaching, Mr. Mase is Chair of the Brass Department at The Juilliard School, a member of the Aspen Music School faculty,and has served on the Board of Directors of Chamber Music America.

 

Chris Gekker, trumpet (1981-1998)

 

Chris Gekker is currently Associate Professor of trumpet at the School of Music at the University of Maryland, having previously served on the faculties of The Juilliard School, the Manhattan School of Music and Columbia University. He was a member of the world-renowned American Brass Quintet for eighteen years, as well as principal trumpet for the Orchestra of St. Luke's. He has performed and recorded frequently with various other groups, such as the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra and the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, and remains in demand with these organizations. Mr. Gekker appears as soloist on numerous recordings. His recording of solos by Hovhaness won "Best Recording on an Independent Label" in 1994 by Billboard magazine. He has been a featured soloist at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center, as well as throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia. Mr. Gekker has recorded and performed with many jazz and popular artists. At the 1998 Rainforest Benefit in Carnegie Hall, he was a featured soloist with Sting and Elton John. His solo trumpet is also prominent in the recent movie, "The Thin Red Line."

A native of Alexandria, Virginia, Mr. Gekker received his Bachelor of Music from the Eastman School of Music, and his Masters degree from the University of Maryland. His teachers have included Emerson Head, Sidney Mear, Adel Sanchez and Gerard Schwarz. His Articulation Studies (now in their third printing) and 44 Duos are available from Colin Publications.

 

Robert Biddlecome, bass trombone (1963-1991)

 

Robert Biddlecome (bass trombone, euphonium) began his music studies with piano lessons and later took up the euphonium, then the trombone. With only a few lessons he demonstrated a musical talent that brought encouragement from his teachers to continue his studies and to follow a musical career. Upon graduating from high school, he decided that the trombone was his instrument of choice and undertook studies with the great trombonist and euphonium soloist, Simone Mantia. He progressed rapidly with Mantia, who immediately recognized his potential and after one year recommended that he audition for Juilliard. He was accepted as a student of Roger Smith and graduated with a diploma in trombone in 1952. While at Juilliard he gained considerable orchestra experience in the Juillard Orchestra under conductor Jean Morel. At the same time he was a member of the National Orchestral Association Orchestra conducted by Leon Barzin. At graduation he had already been playing with the Radio City Music Hall Orchestra, performed under Fritz Reiner at the Metropolitan Opera, and seemed to be on his way. Nevertheless, he decided to join The United States Army Band (TUSAB) in Washington, DC, where he was assistant first trombone, alongside Keig Garvin, for four years. He then moved to the solo euphonium chair and held that position for the next five years, until he left the Band in 1961 to return to New York and further pursue his “classical” music aspirations.

Upon returning to New York, Mr. Biddlecome=s first performing opportunity was with the Goldman Band, under Richard Franko Goldman. He remained with the band for three summers, two as a trombonist and one as solo euphonium. Following his first season with Goldman, he made an extensive tour with the NY City Ballet, under Robert Irving, playing both trombone and euphonium, then running off to finish the season as a member of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, under Peter Herman Adler.

Next came what would turn out to be one of the most important auditions he would ever take, to replace Gilbert Cohen, who was leaving the fledgling American Brass Quintet in order to join the New York Philharmonic. He auditioned and won the position of bass trombonist of the ABQ and shortly afterwards was offered the bass trombone chair of the NY City Ballet Orchestra. From this point on he was a bass trombonist, who also doubled on euphonium. He performed throughout the world as a member of the American Brass Quintet for twenty-eight years, until he left the group in 1990, and he may be heard on more than thirty recordings with the ABQ. It was during his tenure that the ABQ began its ongoing commissioning program, made its first recordings, made its first international tours, started the Aspen and Juilliard residencies and became recognized as the premier brass ensemble that it remains today. Despite his busy performing schedule, Mr. Biddlecome managed to return to Juilliard and obtain both his Bachelor=s and Master=s degrees.

In addition, for twenty years Mr. Biddlecome was bass trombonist of the American Symphony Orchestra under Music Directors Leopold Stokowski, Kazuyoshi Akyama, Sergiu Comissiona, Giuseppe Patane, Moshe Atzmon, Catherine Comet, John Mauceri and Leon Botstein. He was also bass trombonist and a founding member of the American Composers Orchestra, under Dennis Russell Davies, bass trombonist of the Musica Aeterna Orchestra, the Aspen Festival Orchestra, performed frequently with the NY City Opera and did a Broadway run of the show 110 in the shade. After forty-seven years as bass trombonist of the NY City Ballet Orchestra, he finally played his last Nutcracker in January 2010 and retired to Princeton, New Jersey.

Mr. Biddlecome served as Executive Director of The American Brass Chamber Music Association from1972 until 2014. In April 2014 he was elected to the position of President by the ABCMA Board of Directors. He has served on the board of Chamber Music America, was a board member and president of the American Symphony Orchestra, and for more than twenty years was a member of the Aspen Music Festival faculty and administration and Festival Orchestra manager from 1970 to 1997. He has also been a faculty member of Brooklyn College Conservatory, the Mannes School of Music and the Juilliard School.

Ronald Borror, trombone (1977-1983)

Former associate principal trombone of the New York City Ballet Orchestra, former member of the New York Cornet and Sackbut Ensemble, Parnassus, the American Brass Quintet, and the American Composers Orchestra, Ronald Borror has served as trombonist with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Orpheus and St. Paul chamber orchestras, the Bach Aria Group, the Waverly Consort, and with the Group for Contemporary Music. His solo recording of music by American composers received high critical acclaim and his album of early 17th century repertoire on the baroque trombone was designated Recording-of-the-Month by Alter Musik Aktuell. Ronald Borror has taught on the faculty of Columbia University, Wichita and Pennsylvania state universities, North Carolina School of the Arts and SUNY Stony Brook, and is presently Director of Instrumental Studies and Professor of Trombone at the Hartt School of Music.

 

John Aley, trumpet (1978-1981)

John Aley is the professor of trumpet at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music. He is a former member of the American Brass Quintet, with whom he performed extensively throughout the U. S. and internationally. He has performed with New York based ensembles such as Musica Sacra, American Symphony Orchestra, Orpheus Chamber Ensemble and American Composers' Orchestra. He has recorded with the American Brass Quintet, the PDQ Bach Orchestra, the Orpheus Chamber Ensemble, the American Composers' Orchestra, the Wisconsin Brass Quintet and numerous other ensembles. Aley has performed as soloist with the English Chamber Orchestra, the Composers' Brass Group, and on various public radio broadcasts throughout the U.S. He has performed as principal trumpet and soloist with the Wichita Symphony, and the Greenwich and Stamford symphony orchestras. He has been a soloist with the Vienna Chamber Orchestra in concert with Maurice Andre. He is principal trumpet with the Madison Symphony Orchestra and has been featured as a soloist on numerous occasions. He has performed in orchestras under the baton of legendary musicians Leonard Bernstein and Aaron Copland.

During the summer he is an artist/teacher at the Interlochen Arts Camp, Michigan. Aley has also taught and performed at the Aspen Music Festival, the Yale Summer School of Music, UW-Madison Summer Music Clinic, the New England Music Camp, Minnesota Festival of the Lakes and the Hot Springs Music Festival. He has been a featured performer, clinician and adjudicator for the International Trumpet Guild.

Prior to his appointment at the UW-Madison School of Music, John Aley taught at Brooklyn College of Music, Wichita State University, and Western Connecticut State College.

 

Louis Ranger, trumpet (1970-1978)

Studied with Armando Ghitalla (Boston University) and William Vacchiano (Juilliard). From 1970 to 1978, Mr. Ranger performed internationally as a brass chamber music clinician with the American Brass Quintet. He has also performed with such orchestras as the New York City Ballet, the New York City Opera, Radio City Music Hall, the Boston Symphony, the Berlin Philharmonic, and the New York Philharmonic where he was co-principal trumpet. He was also first trumpet with the Musica Aeterna orchestra. During the summer he is principal trumpet of the Aspen Festival Orchestra. He has released a CD entitled The Trumpet Comes of Age: 1940-1980 (with Bruce Vogt).

 

Herb Rankin, trombone (1972-1977)

 

Edward R. Birdwell, horn (1965-1976)

>Adjunct lecturer, Seattle Washington; consultant for musical and presenting organizations nation-wide; former managing director and executive vice president, Seattle Symphony Orchestra; former director, Music Program, National Endowment for the Arts; former orchestra manager, Boston Symphony Orchestra; former executive director, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra; former managing partner/performing artist, American Brass Quintet.
B.M., M.M.E., University of Houston; graduate study at University of Texas (Austin), Tanglewood (Berkshire Music School). Click Here (PDF) for an article in NY Times for an extensive description of Ed Birdwell's career.

 

Gerard Schwarz, trumpet (1965-1973)

Gerard Schwarz is one of America's top conductors, particularly noted for championing the first great age of American symphonists. He is also a gifted trumpet virtuoso. He began studying the trumpet at the age of eight. He attended the National Music Camp in Interlochen, Michigan, during the summers of 1958-1960 and studied at New York's High School of Performing Arts. He studied trumpet with William Vacchiano, principal trumpeter of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra (1962-1968). He received his Bachelor's Degree from the Juilliard School in 1972.

He joined the American Brass Quintet in 1965, and with it toured the United States, Europe, and Asia, remaining with the ensemble from 1965 to 1973. He was a trumpeter in the American Symphony Orchestra from 1966 to 1972, becoming its first trumpet in 1969. With that orchestra he played a considerable quantity of new and American music. During this period is was also a member of the Aspen Festival Orchestra and the Casals Festival Orchestra. He was appointed co-principal trumpet of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra from 1972 to 1975. As a trumpet player he made a number of important recordings, many of which are now in the CD catalogues. He was the first wind player to win the Ford Foundation Award for concert artists (1971-1973), which enabled him to commission a trumpet concerto from Gunther Schuller, and commissioned a number of other trumpet works from composers including Dlugoszewski and Brant.

Meanwhile, he pursued a conducting career. In 1968 he began conducting for the Eliot Feld Dance Company, of which he became Music Director. He also was music director of the Waterloo Festival, and the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra. In 1975 he was appointed music director of the 92d Street Y Chamber Symphony, which was later renamed the New York Chamber Symphony, and has maintained that position since. He became music director of New York's Mostly Mozart Festival in 1982. In 1981 he founded the Music Today contemporary music series in New York, serving as its music director through 1989.

In 1983 he was named Music Advisor of the Seattle Symphony Orchestra. In 1984 he became its Principal Conductor, and in 1985 its Music Director. With the Seattle Symphony he has become known for having one of the most innovative and wide-ranging programming of any major symphony orchestra, with a strong emphasis on music of the great American symphonic composers such as Hanson, Diamond, Creston, Copland, and their contemporaries, a large amount of which he has recorded. He has guided the orchestra to its highest artistic level, and seen it through construction and occupancy of its new venue, Benaroya Hall. He is also artistic adviser of the Tokyo Bunkamura's Orchard Hall, where he conducts the Tokyo Philharmonic in six concerts annually.

In 2008 Schwarz announced his retirement, effective at the end of his contract in 2011, when he was named Conductor Laureate.

 

John Eckert, trumpet (1965-1970)

 

Arthur Goldstein, horn (1960-1962)

Arthur E. Goldstein, 83, a French horn player and an 802 member since 1946, died on January 2, 2009.  Born in Brooklyn, NY, he graduated from the New England conservatory in 1950 where he studied with Willem Valkenier.

Mr. Goldstein served in the U.S. Army with the 388th ASF Band during World War II, which included a White House performance.

During his long career he performed with the Buffalo Philharmonic, the Chicago Symphony, Radio City Music hall, Long Island Symphony and numberous Broadway shows and recordings.  He was a founding member of the Metropolitan Brass Quintet and was on the faculty of Nassau Community College and Hofstra University for 43 years.

Mr. Goldstein was author and publisher of the Eric von Schmutzig Series books as well as several horn method books.

An active union member, he was chair of Local 802's CAC committee for 10 years.

 

Douglas Edelman, trombone (1970-1972)

 

Arnold Fromme, trombone (1960-1970)

Arnold Fromme was a founder and the original tenor trombonist of the American Brass Quintet for its first ten years.

Fromme was born in Brooklyn on Dec. 21, 1925. He graduated from Juilliard and received his Ph. D. from Columbia University. He continued his studies at the Berkshire Music Center, the American School at Fontainebleau, and the Paris Conservatory. He served in the United States Army during World War II from 1944 to 1945. As a trombonist, he was a prominent free-lance player and notably was a member of the New York Pro Musica, one of the first ensembles in the U.S. dedicated to the performance of early music on original instruments.

In 1958, Fromme and trombonist, Gil Cohen, organized a sextet called the American Brass Ensemble, which was the progenitor of the American Brass Quintet. The ABQ had its first public concert on December 11, 1960, at the 92nd Street YMHA. The official “debut” concert was at Carnegie Recital Hall on November 20, 1962.

Arnold Fromme's objectives in founding the American Brass Quintet remain intact. We honor his memory by preserving the original mission of the ABQ: Bridging the gap between modern composers of brass chamber music and audiences and bringing to light music of the past written for the ancestors of our modern instruments.

 

Theodore Weis, trumpet (1960-1962)

Theodore Weis was principal trumpet with the New York City Opera Orchestra from 1949 to 1964 and again from 1968 to 1976. He was principal trumpet with the New York City Ballet Orchestra from 1949 to 1976. Beginning in 1976 he moved to third trumpet and became the Assistant Personnel Manager. He was also a founding member of the American Brass Quintet 1960 and remained with the quintet until 1962.

Ronald Anderson, trumpet (1962-1965)

Ronald Anderson studied with Herbert Mueller at Central Missouri State Univer. (B.Mus.Ed) and with william Vacchiano at Juilliard (B.X., M.S.).  He later attended Columbia (M.A., Ed.D.).  Mr. Anderson has taught at Purchase, NYU and Stony Brook but recently retired from the Music Faculty of Bennington college.  He has appeared as recitalist and soloist in New York, Chicago Washington, Toronto, Dublin, Stockholm, Munich, and Beijing while recording repeatedly for European broadcasting stations and for numerous record label.  Many trumpet works have been composed for Ron Anderson: Emmanual Ghent, Stefan Wolpe (2), Chas. Wuorinen, Ralph Shapey (2), Justin connolly, Harvey Sollberger, John Lessard (6), Chas. Dodge and Karl Korte.  In addition, he has performed premieres of works by Varese, Stravinsky, Babbitt, Carter, Martino and Dovidovsky.  Mr. Anderson has recorded and performed under Bernstein, Boulez, Casals, Wallenstein, Mitropoulos, Stravinsky, Robt. Irving, Muti, Stokowsky, Mehta, Robt. Craft, etc.  For many summers, he performed and recorded works by younger composers during the Composers Conference at Wellesley College.  Ronald Anderson was the first wind artist from the west to begin teaching, performing and conducting Western music in China, immediately after its Cultural Revolution.  In 1981, he conducted the first performances in China of Stravinsky's "Symphonies of Winds" and his Octet for winds.  Mr. Anderson was an original member of the Group for Contemporary Music--prototype of such new-music ensembles in the U.S. and Europe today--as well as an early member of the fames American Brass Quintet and of the New York Pro Musica Antiqua (cornetto/Zink).  he was principal trumpet of the NY City Ballet Orchestra in Lincoln Center for many years.  Former students of Mr. Anderson are performing the major orchestras and ensembles, and former doctoral candidates of his are teaching in universityies in the US and Canada.  For many years, Prof. Anderson led a graduate research seminar in 16th century wind ornamentation.  He is the recipient of an M.B. Rockefeller Grant, he was a member of the National Screening Committee (Music) for the Fulbright Program of the US Dept of State, and was a board member of the ISCM and of the Stefan Wolpe Society.

 

Gilbert Cohen, trombone (1960-1963)

 

Allan Dean, trumpet (1964-1965)

Allan Dean is Professor of Trumpet (Adjunct) at the Yale University School of Music and is currently performing with Summit Brass, St. Louis Brass and the Yale Brass Trio. In the early music field he was a founding member of Calliope: A Renaissance Band and the New York Cornet and Sacbut Ensemble. Dean was a member of the New York Brass Quintet for 18 years and free lanced in the New York City concert and recording field for over 20 years before joining the faculty of Indiana University in l982. Upon retirement of the New York Brass Quintet in 1984, Dean joined the St. Louis Brass. In 1989 he moved back to the Northeast to join the Yale faculty. At Yale, Dean coaches brass chamber music and directs the Yale Cornet and Sacbut Ensemble in addition to teaching trumpet.

Dean performs and teaches each summer at the Mendez Brass Institute and the Norfolk Chamber Music Festival in Norfolk, Connecticut. He is a frequent soloist with Keith Brion's New Sousa Band. Dean has also appeared at the Speleto and Casals Festivals, the Banff Centre (Canada), the Orford Arts Centre (Canada), Musiki Blekinge (Sweden), the Curitiba Music Festival (Brazil) and the Morella Festival (Spain). He can be heard playing both modern trumpet and early brass on over 80 recordings on most major labels including RCA, Columbia, Nonesuch, Summit and others. On early instruments he has recorded with Calliope, The New York Cornets and Sacbuts, The Waverly Consort, The Ensemble for Early Music and The Smithsonian Chamber Players.

Dean joined the Yale faculty in 1988. He previously served on the faculties of Indiana University, the Manhattan School of Music, the Hartt School and the Eastman School.

Dean lives in the Berkshire Mountains of Western Massachusetts with his wife, Julie Shapiro, an artist, and his daughter, Eloisa, a student at Susquehanna University. He is an avid tennis player and practices hatha yoga daily.

 

Richard Happe, horn (1963-1965)

Much in demand as a free-lance artist in New York, Mr. Happe has appeared with the American Ballet Theatre Orchestra, the New York City Opera Orchestra, the Orchestral SOCiety of Westchester, the Rye Chamber Orchestra, the Band of America, the Columbia Group for Contemporary Music, the Manhattan Woodwind Quintet, the Bennington Composers' Conference, Broadway Show Orchestras and other groups. He attended Indiana University, the Juilliard School of Music and the Manhattan School of Music. (Bio from Folkways Record jacket, recorded in 1965)

 

Daniel Cowan, horn (1962-1963)

 

Robert Heinrich, trumpet (1970-1978)

 

 

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