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Sharing releases, present and past, to brighten your day. WXXI Classical has its eyes and ears on the latest releases from classical artists working today. When we come across a story or a release we think you might enjoy, we’ll be sharing it with you on CD Spotlight. You’ll learn more about the artists online at WXXI Classical, and you’ll hear selections from these artists on FM 91.5. CD Spotlight shares new releases by artists that you’ll want to know and some by great artists and ensembles that deserve to be in the spotlight again.

CD Spotlight: Velvet Brown, tuba

Mail call! A box of CDs that recently arrived at WXXI Classical included a fabulous new recording by tuba player Velvet Brown, with pianist Robin Sabinsky and a guest appearance by trumpeter Amy Gilreach.

Brown’s expressive playing is always a sumptuous aural experience, and especially so here in the range of music she plays on this new self-titled recording, her sixth solo album.

Much of this music is connected to memorials and loss – for people who have touched the artists’ lives over many years or in an existence that spanned only a day.

The album opens with Barbara York’s “How Beautiful,” composed for solace for a friend after the death of their child. Brown captures the spirit of this music, which she describes as “both plaintive and hopeful.” She writes that she hopes it brings comfort and peace to listeners, as playing it has to her, as she has coped with her own loss.

Roger Kellaway’s music memorializes Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., drawing on the strength and determination of Dr. King’s message and work. John Stevens’s an Eastman alum whose works Brown has played before, pays tribute to a fellow musician who was also a friend: tuba virtuoso Tommy Johnson, in a stirring piece called “Monument.”

On the lighter side of things Drew Bonner, who is one of Brown’s students takes her hometown of Annapolis, Maryland as the inspiration for “Naptown,” in which he incorporates, “the fun of growing up and nostalgia of childhood in a piece that doesn’t take itself too seriously," while Meyer Kupferman’s “Sound Objects” draw on more experimental ideas, in a trio for trumpet, tuba, and piano.

The tuba can be such a versatile and engaging solo instrument, as well as a valued supporting player. That’s a lesson that Brown has continued to demonstrate through her music-making, and this new album is an excellent addition to the curriculum.

Mona Seghatoleslami
Mona Seghatoleslami is the Music Director, host and producer on WXXI Classical 91.5 FM weekdays from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. She also hosts the lunchtime concert series Live From Hochstein Wednesdays at 12:10 p.m., interviews musicians, produces special programs, and works on any project she can find that helps connect people and music in our community through WXXI.