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UAF brass group rings in holidays with trip to Italy

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Posted: Thursday, December 6, 2012 10:39 pm

FAIRBANKS — It’s a big month for music at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

In addition to holiday performances all over the hill, one quintet of performers will experience the Christmas of a lifetime by performing seven concerts in Italy in venues from majestic churches in Rome to smaller, more intimate settings in small Italian villages.

Borealis Brass, a quintet of UAF faculty members, is leaving Alaska Dec. 16 for a series of concerts that ends Dec. 23. The performance is made possible through the Foundazione Atkins-Chiti, a musical organization that promotes women in music. To be picked to perform in Italy is a huge honor for the brass group, said Karen Gustafson, an associate professor of music and one of the faculty leaders of Borealis Brass, who submitted the proposal to the foundation for the performance.

“All of the music has to be approved by the Vatican before it’s performed in the churches there,” Gustafson said. “To be chosen to go is an honor.”

In addition to playing majestic churches in Rome, the group is performing at a Christmas Eve mass in the village of Fiuggi. The biggest concert for the group is in the Chiesa del Gesu, or Jesuit Church, in Rome, a major venue in which to perform.

Members of Borealis Brass making the trip include Gustafson, Jane Aspnes, John Aspnes, Jim Bicigo and Hannah Johnston.

Holiday concert

In addition to the trip to Italy, Gustafson and Bicigo, an associate professor of trombone and low brass at UAF, are in the midst of readying for a big concert on campus on Sunday combining several musical entities.

The performance, dubbed “A Concert of Holiday Contrasts,” features The Choir of the North conducted by John Hopkins, the Christmas Tubas and the UAF Jazz Band, both directed by Bicigo, and the UAF Wind Symphony conduced by Gustafson. The performance includes a mashup of traditional holiday such as Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker Suite” plus more modern tunes, including pieces by Ray Charles and Duke Ellington.

The Christmas Tubas are performing a pre-concert event at 3:30 in the Great Hall, followed by the main concert at 4 p.m. in Davis Hall.

If you go

What: “A Concert of Holiday Contrasts”

When: Sunday, Dec. 9. Christmas Tubas will perform pre-concert music in the Great Hall at 3:30 p.m. The holiday concert begins at 4 p.m. in Davis Hall.

Tickets: Tickets are $10 for adults; $5 for students, military and parents. Tickets are available in the UAF Music Department or at the door.

Contact Features Editor Gary Black at 459-7504 or on Twitter at @FDNMfeatures.

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