Nationally recognized quintet serenades Chico State


Julian Mendoza

Mary Bowden playing the trumpet at Seraph Brass’ performance at the Zinng Recital Hall at Chico State.

The award-winning quintet, Seraph Brass, performed at Chico State’s Zingg Recital Hall for their first California tour on Sunday.

Sharing the spotlight, the members of Seraph Brass walked in a line to the front of the stage without saying a word. The ensemble then filled the room with music to begin their hour-long performance. 

The ensemble didn’t waste any time during the performance, only taking breaks to introduce the next song or themselves to the crowd. 

The group played a mix of classic songs for other instruments, revisioned for their ensemble, and original songs. Most songs appear on their new album, “Asteria.” 

With each piece bringing its own energy and style, the entire concert was a rollercoaster of emotion. Some songs were a fast tempo and told a story of excitement, like one original song called, “Go,” featuring the group yelling “go.” Other pieces. like their opener “Holberg Suite Prelude,” were more soothing and melodic.

When Rachel Velvikis, who plays the horn, introduced the song, “Does The Day Rain” by P.I. Tchaikovsky, she said, “When it rains, grab an umbrella,” earning a meaningful chuckle from the crowd. 

The group was formed by Mary Elizabeth Bowden, who plays the trumpet, Raquel Rodriquez Samayoa on trumpet, Jean Laurenz on trumpet, Velvikis playing the horn, Hana Beloglavec on the trombone, and Gretchen Renshaw James playing the tuba.

While each musician on their own has impeccable accomplishments, playing as a quintet has won the group prestigious awards such as the 2019 American Prize in Chamber Music.

Founded in 2014, Seraph Brass came together with the intention of showcasing top female brass musicians from around the U.S. The group also works with female composers when making new music.

When Seraph Brass finished their last song, the crowd erupted with applause and a standing ovation. 

Before leaving for their next event, Seraph Brass will be spending time with Chico State music students during a master class, according to Bowden.

Seraph Brass can be found on Facebook and Instagram, and their latest album, “Asteria,” can be streamed on Spotify. For more information about the Paul and Yasuko Zingg Recital Hall, including how to buy tickets for future events, visit the Chico State Box Office website here

Elijah Ewing can be reached at [email protected].