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Recording a new album with Calliope Brass

five women are wearing black dresses and holding brass instruments
Calliope Brass. Front: Erin Paul (horn) and Samantha Lake (tuba). Back: Rebecca Steinberg (trumpet), Sara Mayo (trombone), Olivia Pidi (trumpet)

Calliope Brass is in residence at IPR this week, recording music for a new album, working with Interlochen students and giving public performances.

The quintet Calliope Brass is in residence this week at Interlochen Public Radio. Calliope's members Rebecca Steinberg (trumpet), Olivia Pidi (trumpet), Erin Paul (horn), Sara Mayo (trombone) and Samantha Lake (tuba).

This week, Calliope is recording music for a new album, working with Interlochen Arts Academy students, guest hosting on Classical IPR and giving a recital at the Music House Museum.

Tubist Samantha Lake and album producer Erik Saras spoke with Classical IPR following a day of recording. Hear their entire conversation, as well as selections from Calliope's recording sessions, in the podcast.

Five female brass players are on a stage, holding their instruments and wearing matching purple shirts. They are laughing and talking to an audience.
Calliope Brass talks with Interlochen Arts Academy brass students during a master class

Most of the music on the upcoming album was commissioned by Calliope Brass or is otherwise very new.

Calliope Brass led the commissioning consortium for "Garden Story" by Sara Jacovino, which means they were the first ensemble to get to perform it, and they're also the first ensemble to record it.

Tuba player Samantha Lake said the ensemble enjoys working with composers during the process because they're able to help shape pieces in ways that fit both the composer's and the ensemble's vision.

"With Sara Jacovino, we workshopped drafts of the commission with her," Lake explained. "We feel like the piece fits us, and we know we're showing what the composer meant."

In this podcast, Calliope shared a sneak peek of two pieces from their recording sessions: Sara Jacovino's "Garden Story" and Rich Shemaria's "Pandora's Magic Castle."

Both pieces are the premiere recordings of those works.

The album doesn't yet have a title, but Lake said it may end up having something to do with nature since it includes "Garden Story" as well as pieces about mycology (mushrooms) and Artemis, goddess of the hunt.

Producer Erik Saras explained that part of his role is to keep the musicians organized during the recording session, helping them decide when and where they need to record any parts of the music again.

For example, in a recording session, it's important for brass musicians not to get overtired. The musicians have to balance how many times they want to re-record a passage of music with how tired they might get from playing it over and over again.

"I'm juggling things like, where are we in the schedule? How pressing is the need to record again? Is it quicker to record again even if we don't need it?" Saras said. "You never know, because you could have something even more magical happen, even if we already have two in the can that are really good.

Calliope Brass records in Interlochen's Corson Auditorium
Calliope Brass records in Interlochen's Corson Auditorium

Calliope Brass will perform Saturday, Jan. 13 at 7 p.m. at the Music House Museum, with special guest the Northern LOWER Brass Quartet. Click here for more information and tickets.

Kelley DiPasquale engineered this edition of Studio A, with support from Michael Culler.

Dr. Amanda Sewell is IPR's music director.