New York Philharmonic Principal Brass Quintet
- Brass Quintet
The New York Philharmonic Principal Brass Quintet enjoys worldwide exposure and an international reputation. The Quintet — featuring Principal Trumpet Philip Smith, Associate Principal Trumpet Matthew Muckey, Principal Horn Philip Myers, Principal Trombone Joe Alessi, and Principal Tuba Alan Baer — has hosted an annual Holiday Concert at Lincoln Center since 1995, collaborating most frequently with the Canadian Brass. Other guests have included groups such as The German Brass and the Salvation Army’s New York Staff Band. The Principal Brass Quintet has become a regular encore feature on Philharmonic tours and residencies.
The Paula Levin Chair
Philip Smith joined the New York Philharmonic as Co-Principal Trumpet in 1978, becoming Principal Trumpet (The Paula Levin Chair) in 1988. His early training was provided at The Salvation Army and by his father, Derek Smith. He is a graduate of The Juilliard School; while still a student he was appointed to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Mr. Smith appears regularly as soloist, recitalist, chamber performer, clinician, and recording artist. He has been featured as a soloist with the Philharmonic almost 100 times, either in New York or on tour, under conductors such as Bernstein, Neeme Järvi, Leinsdorf, Kurt Masur, and Zubin Mehta; his most recent solo appearance was in April 2006 in the New York premiere of Ellen Taaffe Zwillich’s American Concerto. In addition to solo releases on labels such as Deutsche Grammophon, Cala, Summit, New World, and Arabesque, Mr. Smith has recorded with the Canadian Brass, Empire Brass, Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra, Bargemusic, and New York Virtuosi Chamber Symphony.
Ethan Bensdorf joined the New York Philharmonic’s trumpet section on June 3, 2008, after spending the 2007–08 season as acting assistant principal trumpet with the Naples Philharmonic Orchestra in Naples, Florida. He received his bachelor of music degree from Northwestern University in 2007, where he studied with Barbara Butler, Charles Geyer, and Christopher Martin. While a student at Northwestern, Mr. Bensdorf spent two years performing with the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, the training orchestra for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and also performed with the New World Symphony and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s contemporary ensemble, MusicNOW. In May 2005, Mr. Bensdorf was selected to perform at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts representing Northwestern University as part of “The Conservatory Project” recital series.
The Gurnee F. and Marjorie L. Hart Chair
Joseph Alessi was appointed Principal Trombone of the New York Philharmonic in the spring of 1985. He began musical studies in his native California with his father, Joseph Alessi, Sr. As a high school student in San Rafael, California, and was a soloist with the San Francisco Symphony before continuing his musical training at Philadelphia’s Curtis Institute of Music. Prior to joining the Philharmonic, Mr. Alessi was second trombone of The Philadelphia Orchestra for four seasons, and principal trombone of L’Orchestre symphonique de Montreal for one season. In addition, he has performed as guest principal trombonist with the London Symphony Orchestra in Carnegie Hall led by Pierre Boulez.
Mr. Alessi is an active soloist, recitalist, and chamber music performer. In April 1990 he made his solo debut with the New York Philharmonic, performing Creston’s Fantasy for Trombone, and in 1992 premiered Christopher Rouse’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Trombone Concerto with the Philharmonic, which commissioned the work for its 150th anniversary celebration. His most recent appearance with the Orchestra as soloist was in performances of James Pugh’s Trombone Concerto in March of 2000.
Mr. Alessi has been a guest soloist with the Lincoln Symphony, National Repertory Orchestra, Colorado Symphony Orchestra, Syracuse Symphony Orchestra, Virginia Symphony, Alabama Symphony Orchestra, Santa Barbara Symphony, South Dakota Symphony, New Japan Philharmonic, Seoul Philharmonic, Orchestra of Teatro Massimo Bellini in Catania, Sicily, Mannheim National Theater Orchestra, National Symphony of Taiwan, Puerto Rico Symphony, and the Hague Philharmonic. In 2007 he will make his solo debuts with the Helsinki Philharmonic and the Hartford Symphony. Mr. Alessi has also participated in numerous festivals, including the Festivale Musica di Camera in Protogruaro, Italy; Cabrillo Music Festival; Swiss Brass Week; and Lieksa Brass Week in Finland. He was featured in the 1997 International Trombone Festival in Feldkirch, Austria, and the International Meeting of Brass Instruments in Lille, France. He is a founding member of the Summit Brass ensemble at the Rafael Mendez Brass Institute in Tempe, Arizona. In 2002 Mr. Alessi was awarded an International Trombone Association Award for his contributions to the world of trombone music and trombone playing.
Mr. Alessi is currently on the faculty of The Juilliard School; his students now occupy posts with many major symphony orchestras in the U.S. and internationally. As a clinician for the Edwards Instrument Co., he has also given master classes throughout the world and has toured Europe extensively as a master teacher and recitalist. He has performed as soloist with several leading concert bands, including the U.S. Military Academy Band at West Point, U.S. Army Band (Pershing’s Own), and the U.S. Marine Band (President’s Own). Mr. Alessi’s discography includes many releases on the Summit record label, including the recent Trombonastics, and a disc with New York Philharmonic Principal Trumpet Philip Smith entitled Fandango; he also recorded New York Legends on the Cala label. His live recording of the Rouse Concerto with the New York Philharmonic can be heard on Volume II of the recent release, An American Celebration, on New York Philharmonic Special Editions, the Orchestra’s own recording label. Three new recordings are scheduled for release in 2007: Return to Sorrento, on the Naxos record label, and two recordings on the Summit record label that feature Mr. Alessi with Columbus State University Wind Ensemble and the Imperial Brass Band. In addition, conductor/composer Bramwell Tovey recently recorded a piece written especially for Mr. Alessi, entitled Urban Cabaret with Mr. Alessi as soloist. Mr. Alessi was invited by the International Trombone Association to record a solo disc of newly composed works, which was distributed to the Association’s membership of 5,000 trombonists in early 1999 and is now available as Beyond the End of the Century through Summit Records. Recently, his recording of George Crumb’s Starchild on the Bridge record label, featuring Mr. Alessi as soloist, won a Grammy Award for 1999–2000. Other recordings featuring Mr. Alessi are with the Canadian Brass (Sony Classical and Philips Records). Further information about Mr. Alessi can be found on his website, www.slidearea.com.
The Ruth F. and Alan J. Broder Chair
Philip Myers joined the Philharmonic as Principal French Horn (The Ruth F. and Alan J. Broder Chair) in January 1980, and made his solo debut with the Orchestra that month in the premiere of William Schuman’s Three Colloquies for French Horn and Orchestra. He has since appeared as a Philharmonic soloist often, most recently performing Mozart’s Horn Concerto No. 2, conducted by Lorin Maazel, in New York in January 2008 and again in February 2008 in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, and Shanghai, China. Mr. Myers began his orchestral career in 1971 with a three-year term as principal horn of the Atlantic Symphony in Halifax, Nova Scotia. He was third horn with the Pittsburgh Symphony from 1974 until 1977. As principal horn of the Minnesota Orchestra for a season and a half, he made a solo debut with that ensemble in 1979, performing Richard Strauss’s Horn Concerto No. 1, Sir Neville Marriner conducting. A native of Elkhart, Indiana, Mr. Myers holds two degrees from Carnegie–Mellon University in Pittsburgh. He plays Engelbert Schmid French horns.
Alan Baer joined the New York Philharmonic on June 21, 2004, as Principal Tuba. He was formerly principal tuba with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, Long Beach Symphony Orchestra, and Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra. His other performing credits include recordings with The Cleveland Orchestra led by Vladimir Ashkenazy, performances with the Peninsula Music Festival of Wisconsin, New Orleans Symphony, Los Angeles Concert Orchestra, Ojai Festival Orchestra (California), Los Angeles Philharmonic, and Chicago Symphony Orchestra. He has also performed as a featured soloist, touring several countries in Europe, including Switzerland, Austria, Germany, and France.
Mr. Baer began his undergraduate work at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, where he studied with Dr. Gary Bird. He completed his bachelor of music degree with Ronald Bishop at the Cleveland Institute of Music, and has done graduate work at the University of Southern California, Cleveland Institute of Music, and California State University, Long Beach, where he studied with Tommy Johnson. While in Long Beach, Mr. Baer taught at California State University, where he also directed the university tuba ensemble and the brass choir. In Milwaukee, Mr. Baer was adjunct professor of tuba and euphonium at the University of Wisconsin and director of the Tuba-Euphonium Ensemble.