Brass instruments make lots of noise at Bordewich |

Brass instruments make lots of noise at Bordewich

by Maggie O'Neill
Rick Gunn/Nevada Appeal Bordewich-Bray Elementary School kindergartners Sawyer Barnett, and Edith Hernandez, both 5, listen to the Great Basin Brass on Tuesday morning in the auditorium. The quintet performed at the school as part of the Discover Music, outreach program.

Fifth-grader Megan Justice clapped hard for the Great Basin Bass Quintet Tuesday morning at Bordewich-Bray Elementary School as the group resoundingly finished a selection of musical pieces with “Jingle Bells.”

“I like that they played Christmas songs to cheer us up or something,” she said afterward. “It takes a lot of practice.”

She should know. She plays the clarinet.

The Great Basin Brass Quintet came to the school Tuesday as part of the Reno Philharmonic Orchestra outreach program, called Discover Music.

“Maybe in the course of the semester, we might do this six times,” said trombone player Mark McGrannahan. “In the spring, it’s a little more.”

The men in the quintet have played together for a long time, some of them nearly 30 years. Tuesday’s pieces included Johann Sebastian Bach’s Fugue No. 9, “O Come All Ye Faithful,” “The Flight of the Bumblebee” and “The Pink Panther.”

Before beginning “The Pink Panther,” trumpet player Larry Engstrom asked students to listen carefully during the song.

“Notice the way the different rhythms feel in jazz,” he said. “It’s a little more relaxed. Notice that during it, I’m going to stand up and close my eyes and play something off the top of my head. That’s called improvisation.”

And when “The Pinker Panther” began, so too did the finger-snapping. It started quietly and then rose like a crescendo. Fifth-grader Arthur Watson smiled excitedly.

“It sounds good,” he said. “It sounds sort of like it’s from a mystery show.”

Before the quintet began its performance, McGrannahan introduced the Great Basin Brass to the elementary schoolchildren.

“Good morning,” he said. “How many students here are in the band?”

A show of hands went up, but quickly diminished as he asked who played the trumpet, the tuba, the French horns and the trombone, all instruments used in the Great Basin Bass Quintet.

“This really is a labor of love for us,” he said after the concert.

Great Basin Brass includes McGrannahan, Engstrom, trumpet player Paul Lenz, French horn player Jonn Lenz and tuba player Russ Dickman. McGrannahan, John Lenz and Engstrom work at the music department at the University of Nevada, Reno. Dickman is a professional photographer, and Paul Lenz is a freelance trumpet player.

Even fifth-grade teacher David McMasters enjoyed listening to the Great Basin Brass players.

“It was really good,” he said. “It was inspiring for the kids who are just starting out. They are at a point where (instruments) can be kind of frustrating.”

Contact reporter Maggie O’Neill at mo’ or 881-1219.