The Downeast Brass quintet is a musical powerhouse of bold and glorious sound. Hear and see them perform during the Wiscasset Art Walk on Thursday, July 29, from 5 to 8 p.m., as they use the new sidewalks as performance space and perform throughout the Village.
According to Dwight Tibbetts, group founder and director, “these guys are the best in brass!” The musicians, Tibbets and Andy Forster playing trumpet, Mike Peterson on trombone, Mark Mumme on tuba, and Loren Fields on French horn, are highly skilled professional musicians, music educators, and love what they do.
Tibbetts, a graduate of Wiscasset High School and the school’s band, has been playing in brass quintets for about 35 years. He said the moment has arrived: “Brass quintets are hip. The days of community bands and big bands are long gone, and brass quintets fill the gap.” The Downeast Brass quintet, in particular, has a very extensive repertoire, he explained, and is extremely versatile. “We do parades, concerts, everywhere a big band or community band might perform.” In 2017, Downeast Brass performed at Wiscasset Holiday Marketfest, entertaining shoppers while playing on the sidewalks in freezing temperatures.
Tibbetts, now retired after teaching music in Augusta for more than 30 years, spends much of his professional life, when not performing, arranging music for brass quintets. The Downeast Brass started when he was looking for an outlet for his arrangements and, today, the quintet is likely to play many of his arrangements during a concert. “There’s so much going on in arranging. Technology has changed the composition world dramatically.” What was once a laborious process is now much more accessible due to software.
Even in practice and concerts, technology has been an aid in the group’s performance. For rehearsals, Tibbetts will electronically send music selections in advance to the quintet members so they can practice at home. While he’s careful not to burn out these hardworking performers who are full-time music educators most of the year, when they do get together, the rehearsals are well organized and all about the music. With their experience and the advance preparation, it only takes a few rehearsals to get the quintet ready for the busy summer season.
Tibbetts described the sound of Downeast Brass as “full and complete.” He explained that, when arranging, he takes a big band score and boils it down for a quintet by eliminating the doubling of sounds – different instruments playing the same notes – so all the basic notes of the score are played, resulting in that aural completeness. In addition, Downeast Brass is “updating all the time. We’re always moving forward with new music and new arrangements. We don’t want to date ourselves with the music we play.”
The pandemic has had an impact on Downeast Brass. Tibbetts said the group had 35 gigs booked for summer 2020, but with COVID restrictions, all gigs were canceled. So far this season, they have about a dozen performances confirmed, including Wiscasset Art Walk, and are feeling very optimistic.
Wiscasset Art Walk 2021 is made possible by lead sponsors Donna and Frank Barnako and First National Bank. Major sponsors are Ames True Value, Big Barn Coffee, Carriage House Gardens, Cod Cove Inn, Fogg Art Restoration, Industrial ME, J. Edward Knight Insurance, Newcastle Realty, Peter H. Eaton Antiques, Red’s Eats, Rock Paper Scissors, Sarah’s Café, and Tim Dunham Realty. For more information, visit www.wiscassetartwalk.org or email email@example.com. Wiscasset Art Walk is a program of Wiscasset Creative Alliance.