Brass players may not always get the last word, but when there's something monumental to say, they're often the ones chosen to say it.
Think of the ebullience with which the baroque trumpets announce the coming of the holy spirit in Bach's "Magnificat." Or the horn, trumpet and trombone fanfares that intone the fateful motif that opens Tchaikovsky's 4th Symphony. And how about the "Tuba mirum" of Verdi's Requiem, in which blazing trumpets (perhaps antiphonally placed around the concert hall) take listeners to the end of time itself as graves open and the souls of the departed present themselves for final judgment.
Yes, for power and drama, there's nothing like a brass section, which explains why so many area music lovers will find themselves in St. Anne's Episcopal Church in Annapolis on Sunday evening to hear "Lincoln Portrait: American Celebration" presented by the Washington Symphonic Brass, an ensemble of 14 of the area's finest musicians. They'll be performing under the aegis of the Annapolis Chorale as part of the St. Anne's Concert Series.
At its 7:30 p.m. concert, the Symphonic Brass will perform music by Leonard Bernstein, John Williams, Aaron Copland and jazz great Stan Kenton.
Two more appearances will round out the ensemble's 2004-2005 season at St. Anne's.
On Jan. 26, the trumpets, trombones and French horns and tubas will present "Pictures at an Exhibition: From Russia with Love," an evening of super-charged Slavic fare by the likes of Prokofiev, Shostakovich, Stravinsky and Mussorgsky.
They'll return to St. Anne's on May 18 with "Carnival of the Animals: The French Connection," an evening of works by Faure, Ravel, Berlioz and, of course, Camille Saint-Saens, composer of the much-loved zoological extravaganza alluded to in the concert title.
In addition, the St. Anne's series will give audiences an opportunity to sample the artistry of several virtuosos in Washington's superb National Symphony Orchestra. Those front-desk players - concert master Nurit Bar-Josef, principal second violin Marissa Regni, principal violist Daniel Foster and principal cellist David Hardy, who perform with pianist Lambert Orkis as the Kennedy Center Chamber Players - will make two stops in the Annapolis this season.
On Feb. 4, these principals, with help from some NSO colleagues, will perform Beethoven's E-flat Piano Trio, Opus 1, No. 1, and the Opus 18 String Sextet by Brahms. They'll also be joined by Steven Hendrickson, the NSO's principal trumpet, for Paul Hindemith's Trumpet Sonata.
On May 8, the Kennedy Center Chamber Players will return to St. Anne's for Brahms' A major Piano Quartet, the Piano Trio of Faure and the "Divertissement" of Jean Francaix. NSO principals Sue Heineman (bassoon) and Robert Oppelt (bass) will join their peers for this concert.
Tickets for all events are $20. For ticket information, call the Annapolis Chorale office at 410-263-1906.