Trumpeter Michael Pakaluk Joins the Menlo Brass
January 9, 2012 — Menlo Park, California — We are pleased to announce that trumpeter Mike Pakaluk has joined the Menlo Brass Quintet. We look forward to a long and rewarding future with this talented musician.
Mike’s wonderful warm sound, great intonation, rhythm, sense of time, and extremely musical phrasing made us all feel very comfortable quickly during his audition rehearsal. He listens very well to what is happening around him in the ensemble, and did a great job blending with the rest of the group, even in this first rehearsal. Mike also has a great grasp of the various styles of music that we play, from Baroque to jazz. We are delighted that he accepted our invitation to play trumpet in the Menlo Brass Quintet.
Mike also performs with the Mission Peak Brass Band in Fremont and the Damon Castillo Band in San Luis Obispo.
Mike received a Bachelor's degree in Music Education from the Hartt School of Music in Hartford, Connecticut, where he was a student of Jay Lichtmann, and a Master's in Trumpet Performance from the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque where he was a student of Jeff Piper. He is Instrumental Music Director at Lynbrook High School in San José, California.
Ron McWilliams Retires from the MBQ after 30 Years of Excellence
November 4, 2011 — Menlo Park, California — After 30 incredible years with the Menlo Brass Quintet, Ron McWilliams has decided (following his retirement) to move from the San Francisco Bay Area to Palm Desert in Southern California for the winters and to Reno, Nevada, for the summers, following our 417th performance on November 4 (and over 1,200 rehearsals over the years).
Ron was a founding member of the group in 1982, along with trumpeter Dan Hallock. Trombone artist Barbara Sigler joined the quintet in 1991, Bob Lipton and his tuba have been with us since 1993 and hornist Brian Holmes joined the Menlo Brass in 2006. We are appreciative of the years of professional and personal association with Ron; he has contributed a great deal to the quintet’s growth and successes.
Following the farewell concert, the Menlo Brass Quintet presented Ron with a framed certificate:
“This Certificate is presented to Ron McWilliams by the members of the Menlo Brass Quintet in recognition of his contributions as a Founding Member through more than 400 performances from 1982 to 2011. On the occasion of his retirement and final concert performance, Ron McWilliams is now recognized as Trumpet Emeritus with the Menlo Brass Quintet.”
Equally comfortable playing all styles of music ranging from Baroque to jazz, Ron’s inspiring and sensitive playing can be heard on our “A Simpler Life” CD.
Ron McWilliams received his BS in Music Education at the University of Illinois. Ron continued his education to receive an MM in Applied Music from Catholic University while he performed in The U.S. Army Band in Washington, D.C. Ron taught music in the Fairfax County, Virginia, public schools and at Jane Lathrop Stanford Middle School in Palo Alto, California.
Finding the right trumpet player for the Menlo Brass Quintet is challenging because it is critical that our newest member has a personality that is compatible with all of the other members of the MBQ and that person has the same musical goals as the MBQ. Although performing ability is of paramount importance, the new trumpet player will be joining "family." The Menlo Brass Quintet works exceptionally well together, and we hope to find someone who can join us with that same spirit. Ron will be missed, and we wish him the best.
Dr. Brian Holmes, on French Horn, Joins the Menlo Brass
August 5, 2006 — Menlo Park, California — We are pleased to announce that French hornist Brian Holmes has joined the Menlo Brass Quintet. Dr. Holmes is already well known to the musical community in the San Francisco Bay Area as a published composer and skilled musician. The Menlo Brass have been working collaboratively with Brian (as a composer and arranger, as well as on horn) since first getting together in 1985. We are looking forward to a long and fruitful association with this talented artist.
Having followed his career since our meeting, we could not have been happier when he accepted the invitation to take over the French horn chair.
Brian brings a wealth of performing and composing experience to Menlo Brass. He is co-principal horn of the Peninsula Symphony, a member of the San Francisco Composers Chamber Orchestra, and has played regularly with the San Jose Symphony and Opera San Jose. Active as a composer, he usually writes for chorus or solo voice, with numerous performances, awards, commissions, broadcasts, and publications to his credit.
Brian received a Bachelor’s degree from Pomona College, and earned a PhD in experimental low temperature physics from Boston University. He is a professor of Physics at San Jose State University. He is also a nationally recognized expert on the physics of brass musical instruments, giving many invited talks all over the country.
Sam King Leaves the MBQ after 24 Great Years
July 4, 2006 — Menlo Park, California — After 24 years with the Menlo Brass Quintet, Sam King is striking off on his own following our 350th performance on July 4, 2006 (and over 1,000 rehearsals over the years). Sam was a founding member of the group in 1982, along with trumpeters Dan Hallock and Ron McWilliams. Trombone artist Barbara Sigler joined the quintet in 1991, and Bob Lipton and his tuba have been with us since 1993. We are appreciative of the years of professional and personal association with Sam; he has contributed a great deal to the quintet’s growth and successes.
Sam’s great love of the music of J. S. Bach is marked by more than 50 of Bach’s compositions included in our library. Sam’s playing can be heard on our “A Simpler Life” CD.
Sam, who was awarded a Master’s of Divinity degree from the Western Seminary, is looking forward to putting more of his time and concentration into his ministerial activities, in addition to his career as a statistician and, of course, continuing to perform on the French horn.
Looking for a new player for a group such as ours is always a daunting task. Although performing ability is of paramount importance, the new horn player will be joining "family." The Menlo Brass Quintet works exceptionally well together, and we hope to find someone who can join us with that same spirit.
Menlo Brass Quintet Premieres Piece by Local Composer
“Tribute to Johannes Brahms” by John Blakelock
April 29, 2006 — Menlo Park, California — The Menlo Brass is excited to present the World Premiere performance of “Tribute to Johannes Brahms” by John Blakelock, on Sunday evening, May 7, 2006, as the centerpiece of their "Spring Diversity" concert at the First Baptist Church of Menlo Park, 1100 Middle Avenue, Menlo Park, CA.
John Blakelock received a B.A. in Music from Washington College in Chestertown, Maryland, and went on to earn a Master's in Composition from the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. Mr. Blakelock currently resides in Berkeley.
Mr. Blakelock wrote this “Tribute to Johannes Brahms” when he was struck by Brahms’ use of a diminished seventh chord in the beginning of his Third Symphony. John decided to start a composition in a similar fashion, basing much of the harmonic and melodic content in the piece around the diminished seventh chord.
One of his goals was to transform the sound of a diminished seventh from something that passes on and resolves, to an objective in itself. In emulation of other aspects of Brahms’ music the use of counterpoint and the importance of interior melodic lines this tribute is a piece where every voice has equal importance. On February 14, 2006, the Menlo Brass recorded the “Tribute to Johannes Brahms” for John Blakelock's composition portfolio.
The Menlo Brass Quintet is a well-respected brass ensemble that has been performing in the San Francisco Bay Area for over 20 years. The group is dedicated to developing new music for Brass Quintet, and consistently includes original works for Brass Quintet (in contrast to transcriptions and arrangements) at each of their concerts. The quintet has worked closely with a number of composers to present striking new works in their finest form. Members of the Quintet are: Dan Hallock and Ron McWilliams, trumpets; Barbara Sigler, trombone; Sam King, French horn; and Bob Lipton, tuba.
The Menlo Brass Wins Recording Competition
The Menlo Brass Quintet's recording of the Bar-B-Que Suite, a new work by Idaho composer Dan Smith, has been chosen as the winner of the Boise Brass Quintet's 2005 Brass Quintet Recording Competition.
The competition was open to brass quintets from all over the United States. Each quintet recorded the Bar-B-Que Suite, and the recordings were judged by the Boise Brass Quintet.
Mr. Smith announced the winner as the Menlo Brass Quintet on Wednesday, May 11, 2005. His statement conveyed his appreciation for the MBQ's "time, interest, and musicianship," and also noted that he was "honored to have [the MBQ] perform this work in July."
The world premiere performance of the Bar-B-Que Suite was featured at a patriotic Concert and Barbecue at the First Baptist Church of Menlo Park on July 3, 2005.
Click to hear a recording of the Menlo Brass in rehearsal, playing "♫Fanfare" from Quintet for Brass, a composition by Daniel Gall.
The Menlo Brass can be heard on a holiday CD from Schola Cantorum, "Christmas Reflections: 40th Anniversary Holiday Collection."
The Menlo Brass Quintet has joined Schola Cantorum for several combined concerts. This retrospective CD includes the Quintet accompanying them on In Dulce Jubilo, by Michael Praetorius.
Contact Schola Cantorum to purchase your copy of the CD, or pick one up at the next Menlo Brass concert.