Story by Laura Scherb | Staff Writer
Early last Thursday morning, as a solemn worship service occupied the Amphitheater and the Hall of Philosophy reveled in peaceful conversations, the Hall of Christ was filled with the bold sound of Thursday Morning Brass rehearsal.
Old, scuffed-up cases were cast aside as shiny French horns, trumpets and tubas joined together to engulf the sanctuary with the sounds of classic marches, syncopated rags and, as one might expect in a group with eight former music teachers, lots of opinions about the way they should be played.
Paul Weber — founder, director, player — sat in front of 12 musicians, brandishing his trumpet, tapping his foot constantly to a beat, and singing along to the music that he directed. Cheeks puffed, toes tapped, and bodies swayed. But then:
“Paul! This is too fast.”
“If you’re listening to Glenn Miller’s recording, that’s how slow it is.”
“Well, the bands have picked it up over the years.”
But with a sharp count-off, the band was off again and, that time, hit the sweet spot beat for Miller’s “In the Mood,” one of the songs in the line-up for their final concert at 4 p.m. today in Elizabeth S. Lenna Hall, featuring the Junior Guilders of Jamestown.
With a limited amount of rehearsal time, Thursday Morning Brass has put together a 12-song program to end the season. Weber likes to include the Guilders every other year to “keep things fresh.” They will dance and sing in two numbers with the band — “March of the Toys” and the Charleston — as well as performing a number on their own.
“We try to include people in the community and it’s worked out nicely,” Weber said.
Besides including the Guilders, the band looks to play old favorites that their audience members know and love.
“We like to play music that stirs up the crowds, some good-old-time, big-band tunes,” Weber said.
“It’s up stuff,” said Charlie Tea, the band’s trumpeter. “It’s fun music. They know everything we play, and people love familiarity. It’s not really serious, somber stuff like the symphony can be, which is great for around here because some of them get that way.”
Thursday Morning Brass is a part of the Chautauqua Amateur Musicians Program, or CAMP, which also encompasses the Chautauqua Community Band, the Dixie Lakesiders, Chautauqua Brass Ensemble and the Summer Strummers. All play on occasion throughout the season, usually in conjunction with other events, like the Craft Alliance show last weekend.
“I want them to play well and do a good job, but also have a good time,” Weber said. “We’re just amateurs, but applause really does something to you.”
Tea and Weber said the entire group is both looking forward to the concert, especially “When the Saints Go Marching In.”
The group does an especially good job on the jazzy number, Weber said.
During the concert, Thursday Morning Brass will collect donations that go toward scholarship funds for young musicians studying at Chautauqua for the summer. All of the funds will go to scholarships for brass musicians.
“We’re donating our talent, really,” Tea said.