Isthmus Brass – Biography

Season Listing | Program | Biography

Under the direction of brass-icon, John Stevens, and comprised of the finest professional brass players in the Midwestern United States, the ISTHMUS BRASS is Wisconsin’s premiere large brass ensemble.  Established in 2009, the Isthmus Brass was formed in Madison when some of the best and busiest brass players in Southern Wisconsin looked for a way to collaborate and perform together.  They initially decided on a course of performing charitable Christmas Concerts especially for Porchlight, Inc. of Dane County (a benefit organization for the homeless). From there they have stepped on to the international stage; especially with a critically acclaimed Summit Records release, “Isthmus Brass Christmas” which has been heralded at “…one of the best” brass Christmas albums of all time.  The group is now active year-round and regularly presents concerts of varying styles and repertoire on concert series throughout the Midwest.

The Isthmus Brass Quintet & Percussion is a subset of the larger Isthmus Brass and often gives performances at many smaller venues and provides the teaching component from the larger ensemble in masterclass settings. Both groups promote the ideology of energy, entertainment, and eclecticism of virtuosic repertoire—much of it especially arranged for them—showcasing the best of brass music in a variety of musical settings and styles.

John Aley (Trumpet) is the Professor of Trumpet at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music and a member of the Wisconsin Brass Quintet. He is the Principal Trumpet of the Madison Symphony Orchestra and a former member of the American Brass Quintet. He has also performed with other New York based ensembles such as Musica Sacra, American Symphony Orchestra, Orpheus Chamber Ensemble and American Composers’ Orchestra. He can be heard on his solo trumpet recording, Autumn.

Ricardo Almeida (Horn) is a member of the horn section of the Madison Symphony Orchestra and performs extensively throughout Southern Wisconsin as a freelance hornist. Having first established himself throughout Europe as an orchestral horn player, Ricardo is equally proficient as a chamber musician and can be heard on Crystal Records with the NFB Horn Quartet and most recently on a new Albany Records release, “Alec Wilder: Four Suites.”

Alan Carr (Bass Trombone) is a Collins Fellow and DMA candidate at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and also Adjunct Professor of Low Brass at Concordia University Wisconsin. Alan is an active performer, having appeared with the Baltimore, Dubuque, and Hartford Symphony Orchestras, the American Brass Quintet, and Ensemble ACJW of Carnegie Hall. For seven years, Alan was the bass trombonist for the King’s Brass and is also a founding member of the Sequenza Trombone Quartet. He is a graduate of The Juilliard School, Yale University and the Peabody Conservatory and can be heard on Summit, Albany, and Naxos record labels.

Dylan Chmura-Moore (Trombone) is a performer and advocate of contemporary music and is currently the Orchestra Director and Professor of Low Brass at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. Dylan is an active solo, chamber, and orchestral musician and recently has performed with Madison Symphony Orchestra, Green Bay Symphony Orchestra, Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra, Dal Niente, Isthmus Brass, Con Vivo!, and is the member of the brass quintet Ars Ventus.

Dave Cooper (Trumpet) is widely recognized as one of the most versatile trumpets players in the Midwest.  His performing affiliations include the Madison Symphony Orchestra, the New Breed Jazz Quintet, The Art Blakey Tribute Band, The Tim Whalen Nonet, and the Isthmus Brass. He is the Chair of the Department of Music at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville and also Associate Professor of Trumpet.

Michael Dugan (Trombone) is the Associate Professor of Trombone at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. In addition to his teaching duties, Mike is an active freelance artist throughout the Midwest. Recent engagements include the Milwaukee Symphony, Minnesota Orchestra, Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, as well as appearances with many regional orchestras throughout Wisconsin and Iowa.

Mike Forbes (Tuba) is the Principal Tubist with the La Crosse Symphony and as the Tuba/Euphonium Professor at UW-La Crosse. He can also be heard as the tubist with the “Guy’s All-Star Shoe Band” on A Prairie Home Companion and with the internationally recognized, Sotto Voce Tuba Quartet. Mike’s compositions (especially for brass and band) are regularly performed around the world. He has recently released his second solo album on Summit Records featuring his own compositions (Forbes Plays Forbes).

Mark Hetzler (Trombone) is a member of the Wisconsin Brass Quintet and performed with the Empire Brass from 1996-2012. He is the former Principal Trombone of the Hartford Symphony Orchestra, and has performed with the Minnesota Orchestra, the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Boston Pops and the Florida Orchestra.  Mark is a Valade Fellow teaching trombone and formerly chamber music at the Interlochen Summer Arts Festival.  He is the Associate Professor of Trombone at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Edward Hong (Trumpet) is an Adjunct Instructor of Trumpet at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater where he also performs with the UW-Whitewater Faculty Brass Quintet. He holds degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Iowa. He has also performed with the Wisconsin Brass Quintet, Madison Symphony Orchestra, the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra, and currently plays with the Cooper Street Brass Quintet.

Keith Lienert (Percussion) is the percussion instructor at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville. His performing and teaching career credits include Disneyland’s Collegiate All-Star Show Band, Arizona State University, Arizona School for the Arts, and Elgin Community College in Illinois. He has performed in Southern Wisconsin with the Janesville Armory Dinner Theater, the Dubuque Symphony, the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra, and the PanGo Steel Drum Band from Chicago.

Jon Schipper (Trumpet) is an extremely active freelance trumpeter in Southeast Wisconsin and regularly performs with the Jeff Peronto Jazz Orchestra, Madisalsa, The Madison Jazz Orchestra, Joe Scalissi & The Dry Martinis, Four Seasons Theatre, and The Tim Whalen Nonet. He currently teaches instrumental band and general music at Madison Country Day School in Waunakee, WI, as well as the Jazz program at James Madison Memorial High School.

John Stevens (Conductor) has recently retired from the Tuba/Euphonium Professorship at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He also served twice as the Director of the School of Music and was a member of the Wisconsin Brass Quintet, a UW-Madison faculty ensemble-in residence. Stevens has enjoyed a varied career as a teacher, orchestral, chamber music, solo and jazz performer and recording artist, composer/arranger, conductor and administrator.