The M5 Mexican Brass quintet’s comedic and soothing performance had audience members reeling for more at the end of their show. There’s no question as to why everyone wants to see them play when they travel around the world.
On Nov. 10 in the Nightingale Concert Hall, Shoshana Zeldner, the program manager for special events, introduced the brass quintet.
The five of them opened up the evening with “Vuelta del Fuego”, originally composed by Kevin McKee. Alexander Freund and Oscar Villegas Miranda played different forms of trumpets all night, while Juan Carlos Quiterio Miguel played the French horn, Roberto Carlos Cruz played the trombone and José Lopez Juàrez played the tuba.
Each of the men came out wearing different kinds of casual suit attire with matching green sneakers. Already, it was easy to see how well these players would be together.
Freund took the microphone and explained to the audience that the title means “Right/Return of Fire,” which was quite metaphorical for this group coming back with great playing in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Right at the start of the performance, they had a little formation at the beginning where they got to act dramatic and do different poses. It was quite entertaining.
When Freund took the microphone again to announce the next song, he first announced the wrong one, which earned plenty of laughs from the audience. But once he clarified that it was “Lela Fantasí”, arranged by M5 and originally composed by Rosendo Mato and Antonio Santoyo, they were back on track.
The harmony during this song was absolutely epic. The five performers were engaging and played quite beautifully together during this song.
Next, they performed the “Overture to the opera, ‘Il Barbiere di Siviglia”, arranged by Freund and the quintet but originally composed by Gioachino Rossini.
“We really hope you do not see why Rossini didn’t write this for brass,” Freund said, earning another round of chuckles from the audience.
The song was fun and entertaining. At one point, Miranda even breaks from the song to snap a quick selfie with the crowd, which really earned the attention of the audience.
For every performance it seems the quintet put on a little show to make the audience laugh or get them engaged which made for an awesome night for everyone in the room.
The song was quite long, so when the men finished they smiled and shook their hands a bit, probably exhausted from the extensive piece.
M5 then played “Evening Prayer from ‘Hansel and Gretel’” originally composed by Engelbert Humperdinck and arranged by Freund and M5. It was a romantic German opera song.
“Once upon a time in the forest, four Mexicans … and you know the rest,” Freund said, earning more chuckles from the audience before they got into their positions.
Cruz put the trombone on his head, Migel and Miranda got down on their knees for Freund to sit and play his instrument and all the men closed their eyes, mimicking a prayer stance, cracking the audience up with their dramatic displays.
After this song, the five moved on to “Concerto BWV 972” originally composed by Johann Sebastian Bach and was arranged by M5 after Vivaldi.
Since the piece was originally composed for violins, he wishes him and the other men a quick “good luck” before they begin playing. However, the men still perform beautifully with this extensive piece.
The quintet then says they planned to compress all classic and music history into the next 12 minutes. The piece was “Der Alte Peter” with variations of the German folk song arranged by M5. The arranged song was based on the composers Bach, Mozart, Wagner, Strauss, Orff and Stockhausen’s versions. The original composer was Ulrich Sommerlatte.
“If you don’t recognize the composers … you should go to school again,” Freund said, comedically. “If your favorite composer isn’t in here … well, bad luck.”
And somehow the composers managed to make the piece wonderful and even performed some of their little skits and dramatic scenes to earn laughs and applause from the audience. At one point in the collection, the performers do some yodeling, roaring and a bit of yelling in between.
It was hilarious even watching Miguel get on the audience floor to play the French Horn, with the rest of the quintet at the edge of the stage.
After that intense collection, M5 takes a short 15-minute intermission and the audience was free to go outside the Concert Hall to buy some M5 merchandise.
When they come back from the break, they are immediately playing.
They finish the night off with six final pieces: “Overture to the zarzuela, ‘La Boda de Luis Alonso’” originally composed by Gerónimo Giménez; “Como Tu – waltz from Oaxaca” originally composed by Antonio Santoyo; “St. James Infirmary” arranged by Luther Henderson and M5 and attributed to Joe Primrose; “Michelle” arranged by M5 and originally composed by Paul McCartney; “Llosandeña” arranged by Quiterio Miguel and M5; and “Escape” originally composed by Kevin McKee.
Throughout the whole performance, M5 manages to play excellently and keeps the audience engaged by making them laugh at their skits and inviting them to clap along to the music.
Freund continued cracking jokes, too.
“Want to know the difference between opera and operetta?” Freund asked at one point. “It’s the budget.”
For M5 and the entire audience, the evening was worth every penny. Everyone got a few good laughs and got to listen to some wonderful brass playing.
Jaedyn Young can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @jaedyn_young3.