Last night I accompanied some ladies to the United Methodist Church in downtown Schenectady to witness the all-male German instrumental quintet known as Harmonic Brass. As they played a two-hour show for a packed house, I quickly learned how lucky I was to get to see it. 

Made up of five European men of different ages, Harmonic Brass have been around since 1991 and have visited and played all over the world including New York City, Lepzig, Korea and Schenectady, which they have visited a few times before.

The members of Harmonic Brass are:

  • French Horn: Andreas Binder (since 1992)
  • Trumpets: Hans Zellner (since 1997), Gergely Lukacs (since 2008)
  • Trombone: Thomas Lux (since 2004)
  • Tuba: Manfred Haberlein (since 1991)

As the almost full-to-capacity church waited in anticipation it suddenly got quiet as the musicians made their way down the church aisle, dressed ever-so neatly in black and white with ultra shiny shoes. My eye immediately caught attention of the youngest member, trumpeter Gergerly. Tall, handsome and talented, his spirit radiated throughout the large house of God. The passion and enjoyment these men got out of their musical souls was easily read across their composed figures, which stood as proud as statues on the small Church stage with the shining light bouncing off their brass instruments onto the stained glass windows. They are not just musicians, they are performers.

They spoke English very well and the majority of the show was narrated by french horn player Andreas, who frequently had the crowd in laughter. He would introduce the piece and if it called for emotion or a skit the men would get directly into character. They did not miss a beat or skip a step. True professionals, they are, as they were in perfect harmony with one another, as were their instruments.

Including a brief, but needed intermission the show lasted two hours. It included a stunning encore with breathtaking (literally) tuba solos from Manfred. With his musical backers in tow, he repeated an amazing and fast few rounds of pure playing. He was within a few feet from me and was so close I could hear every strong breath he took, keeping up well with his meticulous fingers. I half waited for him to pass out or have a heart attack right in front of me but he kept up like a true champion.

Their Highlights in Brass set list was comprised of about 12 works by various composers including Handel, Liszt, Bach, Pucchini and Piazzolla, and featured works from popular plays and operas such as Carmen. Songs performed include "Tico, Tico," "Bolero," Bach's "Fugue in G Minor," "Libertango" and Handel’s "Arrival of the Queen of Sheba." I only recognized a few of the songs, as the majority appealed to an older audience which the church was mostly filled with. However, I knew I was seeing something rare and spectacular and I am very thankful for it. I had never heard of the famous group before but now that I have witnessed it for my own eyes I wouldn't miss a return performance!