Chugach Brass returns to the Peninsula

The Chugach Brass of the University of Anchorage Alaska is returning to the Kenai Peninsula after a three-year hiatus. The decision was a no brainer for the university professors.


The group enjoys playing together and does so simply when asked, said Chris Sweeney, trombone player.

On Friday, the musicians will perform two concerts and conduct separate workshops at area schools. On Saturday, the ensemble will perform at Soldotna Christ Lutheran Church at 7:30 p.m.

The Performing Arts Society once again invited the brass trio to the area. The style of music somewhat breaks the norm of the society’s chamber concerts. Modern pieces will be performed, as brass trios are a fairly new ensemble.

A variety of music for brass instruments will be played by the UAA professors Linn Weeda, trumpet; Sweeney, trombone; Cheryl Pierce, French horn; and Dean Epperson, piano accompaniment.

Formed in 2006, the group took its name from the Chugach tribe of Prince William Sound. They also perform with the Anchorage Symphony Orchestra.

They’ll play several pieces of music as a trio, including “Americana” written in 1996 by Henry Wolking and “Three Anachronisms” written in 1991 by Bruce Thompson. They also will perform solos and with piano accompaniment.

“Aleutian Sketches,” a trio and piano piece, was written by Alaska composer Philip Munger. Sketches’ four movements take glimpses into the past and present of the Aleutian Islands, Munger wrote on his blog.

“It’s a really new piece, written in 2010 and 2011,” said Maria Allison, local musician and PAS board member. “That will be really interesting and fun to hear.”

A lot of the PAS organized events are chamber concerts of the string instrument variety, Allison said. She contends the community connects with brass instruments, as many of the young students who attend the concerts play brasses, or their parent did at some point.

“A lot of kids and adults have played them,” she said. “People are familiar with those types of instruments. This will be a concert they may be able to relate to on some level.”

The society has invited musicians affiliated with both UAA and UAF in the past. The visits allow the university to have a positive impact around the state. Students who attend the concert could someday receive instruction from members of Chugach Brass, if they choose to go to college in Anchorage, she said. Allison is encouraged by the group’s visit; they’re always willing to do school concerts.

“They’re nice people. They’re fun. They like to have a good time when they’re performing,” she said. “We usually have a good crowd. And they’re known, so it’s like having old friends come back and play.”

Perhaps the crowd will connect with the pieces more so than usual, too. Most of the pieces were written in the 20th century, in part, due to the fairly new creation of the brass trio.

French composer Francis Poulenc wrote the first sonata for horn, trumpet and trombone, Sweeney said.

“It’s less than a century that composers have been writing for that (instrumentation),” he said. “Compared to orchestral music and piano music, it’s been a very short time.”

Sweeney said he is most looking forward to playing the last piece featured in the Friday concert, “Recreation.” Pierre Gabaye, a French composer wrote the piece in 1958.

The piece has audience appeal and complexity, Sweeney said.

“We’re having fun when we play it,” he said. “It’s a well-crafted piece of music, and that’s why we do what we do.”

Friday’s school concerts and clinics will be at Mountain View Elementary and Kalifornsky Beach Elementary.

Tickets for the Saturday concert are $20 for general admission and $10 for students. They may be purchased at the door or in advance at River City Books and North Country Fair in Soldotna; and at Already Read and Country Liquor in Kenai.

Jerzy Shedlock can be reached at


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