Faculty Brass Quintet to Make Their Concert Debut

From left are Damon E. Coachman, Keith Johnston, Kevin Lam, Jason Bouchard and Walker Beard.

News Story: November 13, 2013

“The idea was really simple,” explains Sacred Heart University director of bands, Keith Johnston. “We need a group of professionals – working musicians – who want to work with the students, teach them, play together and form a genuine professional ensemble.”

As a result, earlier this year the Sacred Heart University Faculty Brass Quintet was born, with Walker Beard and Damon Coachman on trumpet, Kevin Lam playing the French horn, Jason Bouchard on the tuba and Johnston himself sliding the trombone.

With an excitedly eclectic playbook, offering selections from Carmen to Victor Ewald’s Quintet Number 3 to Amazing Grace, the fivesome looks forward to taking the stage this Friday night, November 15, at 7 p.m. in the Schine Auditorium and showing their students that they are performers as well as teachers. Tickets are $10, students get in free with ID.

Johnston is constantly impressed, he says, by the quality, variety and vibrancy of music on the Sacred Heart campus, especially when you consider the University does not yet offer a music major degree. “These kids – they’re all nursing majors, or business majors or scientists,” he says. “It’s just amazing the level of the performing arts exposure and education they get here.”

Forming a professional resident ensemble on campus just seemed like the next obvious step in expanding that music base and heightening the students’ – and the community’s – exposure to great music. Yet it seems that Sacred Heart is the only one in this region to have done it.

“Students need to see professionals performing their craft,” says Johnston, who has been at Sacred Heart for 10 years. “That’s how they learn – they watch, they emulate, they make it their own. So we decided we needed to bring together an ensemble that not only wanted to teach, that was not only professional, but was performing right here.”

Though they have appeared at a number of University functions over the last few months, Friday night marks the quintet’s first concert performance. “This is purely about the music. About coming together with nothing to do but play. And that – the music – that’s what it’s all about.”