Boston Conservatory Brass Festival Weekend

Cartoon of brass instruments with white background

September 30–October 1, 2023

Boston Conservatory at Berklee is pleased to host its inaugural Brass Weekend, a two-day celebration of musical artistry and innovation that all brass musicians and music lovers are invited to join.

The weekend will feature master classes, performances, and presentations by guest artists Denise Tryon, Philip Smith, and Sasha Romero, as well as esteemed Boston Conservatory at Berklee faculty members Joseph Foley, Richard Kelley, Eli Epstein, Anne Howarth, Norman Bolter, Larry Isaacson, Angel Subero, Ken Amis, and Marcus Rojas.

In addition, the Conservatory will host a special brass competition for prospective undergraduate and graduate students, offering a chance to win a full-tuition scholarship to Boston Conservatory for the entire duration of their program.

DEADLINE EXTENDED: Interested participants must meet the criteria outlined below, under Solo Competition Requirements, no later than August 28, 2023.

Brass Festival Weekend is presented through Boston Conservatory at Berklee’s Artistry in Action series, which celebrates exceptional artists and initiatives that exemplify Boston Conservatory’s core values of excellence, innovation, and community engagement. All Brass Festival Weekend events are free, but registration is required for the master classes, exhibit hall, and brass solo competition. Register here. 

 View the full event schedule

Guest Artists 

Denise Tryon holding french horn

Denise Tryon       
Associate Professor of Horn, University of Cincinnati CCM

Denise Tryon graduated high school from the famed Interlochen Arts Academy and received her Bachelor of Music degree from New England Conservatory of Music (NEC). As a member of the Taiyo Wind Quintet, she won the Grand Prize in the Coleman Chamber Competition and received the Presidential Scholarship while in the Artist Diploma Program at NEC. Tryon is the associate professor of horn at Indiana University, Jacobs School of Music. She served as horn professor at the University of Cincinnati, College–Conservatory of Music (2018–2023) and the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore (2007–2019). Since 2019, Tryon has been the fourth horn of the world-renowned American Horn Quartet. Previously, Tryon was fourth horn of the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Detroit Symphony, and second horn of the Baltimore, Columbus and New World symphonies. An active and accomplished educator, Tryon is sought after for her master classes. In 2009, Tryon founded Audition Mode, a yearly horn seminar, with Karl Pituch. She has released three albums, including 10 new commissions focusing on the low register of the horn.       

Learn more about Tryon.

Laura Bibbs posing with a green light overlay

Laura Bibbs       

Laura Bibbs is a performer, composer, and arranger based in Los Angeles and New York City. In 2015, Laura moved to Boston to study orchestral trumpet with Thomas Siders, earning her bachelor’s degree in trumpet performance from Boston Conservatory at Berklee. She later pursued a master’s degree in contemporary performance at the Manhattan School of Music, where she studied with Jon Faddis and Brandon Ridenour. Faddis’s mentorship deeply shaped Laura’s developing career, inspiring her to pursue her musical passions in any and all genres. Bibbs has performed in notable venues across the globe, including Madison Square Garden, the Kia Forum, and Wembley Stadium. She recently completed the North American and European legs of Love on Tour, performing with artist Harry Styles.

Learn more about Bibbs.

Phil Smith holding trumpet

Philip Smith       
William F. and Pamela P. Prokasy Professor in the Arts, Hugh Hodgson School of Music, University of Georgia 

In addition to teaching his trumpet studio, Philip Smith is the bandmaster of the UGA British Brass Band, a member of the faculty Georgia Brass Quintet, and a coach of the Bulldog Brass Society. He retired from the New York Philharmonic after 36 years of service as principal trumpet, having joined the ensemble in October 1978. Smith has appeared regularly as soloist, recitalist, chamber orchestra performer, and clinician. He has been featured as a soloist with the Philharmonic performing with conductors Zubin Mehta, Kurt Masur, Erich Leinsdorf, Leonard Bernstein, Neeme Järvi, Lorin Maazel, Alan Gilbert and Bramwell Tovey.  Repertoire highlights have included the world premiere of Joseph Turrin’s Trumpet Concerto with the New York Philharmonic (1989) and its subsequent European premiere with the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra (1994).  

Learn more about Smith.

Sasha Romero holding trombone

Sasha Romero       

Sasha Romero was appointed principal trombone of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra in 2018. Prior to her appointment at the MET, she held the position of principal trombone with the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra from 2016 to 2018. Hailing from Longview, Texas, Sasha grew up within the acclaimed and robust Texas band system and achieved great musical success at a young age. She went on to earn her Bachelor of Music degree at Baylor University, where she studied with Brent Phillips, and her Master of Music degree at Rice University, studying with Allen Barnhill. In addition to a lengthy list of national and international solo and chamber music competition wins to her name, Romero is honored to have been a semi-finalist in the first Brass Division of the 2019 XVI International Tchaikovsky Competition in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Learn more about Romero.

Boston Conservatory Faculty

Joseph Foley holding trumpet

Joseph Damian Foley       
Instructor of Trumpet, Boston Conservatory at Berklee

Joseph Damian Foley is principal trumpet of the Rhode Island Philharmonic, the Portland Symphony Orchestra, and the River Oaks Chamber Orchestra of Houston, Texas. He has performed and toured with such prestigious ensembles as the Boston Symphony, the Boston Pops, the Metropolitan Opera, the Royal Ballet of London, and the New York Philharmonic. He is a former founding member of the Atlantic Brass Quintet, which garnered grand prizes at six international chamber music competitions during his tenure. In addition, he has performed with the Boston Symphony Brass Quintet, Empire Brass, Burning River Brass, Metropolitan Opera Brass, ALEA III, and at the Santa Fe, Buzzard’s Bay, and Newport chamber music festivals. As a soloist, Foley has performed with the Boston Pops Orchestra, the Boston Classical Orchestra, the Boston Landmarks Orchestra, the Rhode Island Philharmonic, the River Oaks Chamber Orchestra, the Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra, and at Carnegie’s Weill Recital Hall.

Learn more about Foley

Richard Kelley in black suit posing with trumpet

Richard A. Kelley       
Professor of Trumpet, Boston Conservatory at Berklee

Richard A. Kelley joined the faculty of Boston Conservatory at Berklee in 2022 and is a professor of trumpet. A Grammy-nominated trumpeter, Kelley has built a formidable track record, working at the highest level of the profession. He performs regularly with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Boston Pops, Boston Philharmonic, and other surrounding orchestras. Previously based in New York City, Kelley was principal trumpet of the Queens Symphony Orchestra and the Philharmonia Virtuosi. He also performed regularly with the Metropolitan Opera, the Brooklyn Philharmonic, the New York Pops, and many other orchestral ensembles. From 1987 to 1994, he was a member of the groundbreaking Meridian Arts Ensemble—the first brass quintet ever to win the prestigious Concert Artists Guild competition. He continued to stretch the boundaries of brass solo and chamber music as a member of Boston Brass from 1997 to 2005, as well as premiering and recording trumpet solos by Daniel Pinkham and Richard J. Clark and a concerto for two trumpets by Stephen Paulus.  

Learn more about Kelley.

Eli Epstein smiling with french horn

Eli Epstein       
Professor of Horn, Boston Conservatory at Berklee

Prior to joining the faculty at Boston Conservatory, Eli Epstein was second horn for the Cleveland Orchestra (1987–2005) and horn professor at the Cleveland Institute of Music (1989–2005). Epstein has appeared several times as a soloist with the Philadelphia and Cleveland orchestras; in chamber programs at the Music Academy of the West, where he was on the faculty (2005–2013); and at the Aspen Music Festival, where he served as principal horn for the Aspen Chamber Symphony (2000–2012). Epstein has collaborated with the Borromeo and Brentano string quartets and has served as guest principal horn for the Rhode Island Philharmonic, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, and St. Louis Symphony. Occasionally, he performs with the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Epstein's book Horn Playing from the Inside Out was celebrated in the Horn Call as "an overwhelmingly stimulating and productive treatise," with the journal noting that "its positive influence on the profession will be immediate and lasting."

Learn more about Epstein.

Anne Howarth smiling holding french horn

Anne Howarth       
Assistant Professor of Horn, Boston Conservatory at Berklee

Fueled by a passion for small ensemble collaborations, Anne Howarth brings expressiveness, creativity, and delight to her performances. She is deeply curious about the ways in which shared musical experiences forge connections, invite deeper dialogue, and inspire contemplation. Howarth is a founding member and outreach director of the mixed-instrumentation chamber group Radius Ensemble, a senior member of the wind quintet Vento Chiaro, and a core member of Juventas New Music Ensemble. A strong proponent of new music, she has commissioned several chamber works, including “Connect All. We All Connect.,” a reversible meditation on the ways in which live performance connects us. Howarth holds principal horn chairs with the Lexington Symphony and Plymouth Philharmonic Orchestra and has performed with the Boston, Portland, and Hartford symphony orchestras, as well as Boston Pops and Rhode Island Symphony, among others.

Learn more about Howarth.

Norman Bolter posing with trombone

Norman Bolter       
Assistant Professor of Trombone, Boston Conservatory at Berklee

A Tanglewood Fellow and C.D. Jackson Award winner, Norman Bolter joined the Boston Symphony Orchestra in 1975 at age 20. He played with the BSO for 32 years and continues to maintain an active playing and conducting schedule. He also served as principal trombonist of the Boston Pops Orchestra and was a founding member of the Empire Brass Quintet, winning the Walter H. Naumberg Award. Bolter has recorded with the BSO, Boston Pops, Empire Brass, Orchestre National Bordeaux Aquitaine, and the Minnesota Orchestra, and has five recordings of his own compositions, including Anew at Home. His works also appear on recordings by Joseph Alessi, Ronald Barron, James Miller, Douglas Yeo, Charles Schlueter, and Peter Maunder. A prolific composer, Bolter's works are performed regularly throughout the world.

Bolter also serves on the faculties of the New England Conservatory and Longy School of Music.

Learn more about Bolter

Larry Isaacson smiling

Larry Isaacson       
Professor of Trombone, Boston Conservatory at Berklee

Larry Isaacson joined the Conservatory in 1985. He coaches chamber music and teaches private trombone lessons as well as the courses Brass Fundamentals and Brass Seminar. In addition, he conducts several ensembles on campus, including Brass Ensemble, Orchestra Repertoire, the Spectrum Project, and pit orchestras for dance productions. Isaacson began his career at the age of 19, performing as an extra with the Chicago Symphony at Carnegie Hall. He has performed worldwide in concert and on recordings with many of America’s finest ensembles, including the Empire Brass Quintet, San Francisco Symphony, Chicago Symphony, Boston Pops, Boston Symphony, Boston Symphony Chamber Players, Detroit Symphony, Grant Park Symphony, and San Diego Symphony. He has performed in all musical mediums, including television, radio, commercials, and recordings. Isaacson is a former faculty member of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, New England Conservatory, Boston University, Tufts University, University of New Hampshire, Mannes School of Music, McMaster University, and Boston University Tanglewood Institute. He has been a regular guest conductor at the Aspen Music Festival for almost 20 years and also has guest conducted the Oregon Symphony, Longwood Symphony, and at the Round Top and Eastern Music festivals.

Learn more about Isaacson.

Angel Subero holding trombone

Angel Subero       
Assistant Professor of Trombone and Bass Trombone, Boston Conservatory at Berklee

Angel Subero has performed with numerous orchestras, including the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra, Boston Ballet, Pittsburgh Symphony, American Composers Orchestra, the Venezuela Symphony, Simon Bolivar Symphony, and the Boston Modern Orchestra Project, to name a few. He has worked with such conductors as John Williams, Seiji Ozawa, Kurt Masur, Sir Colin Davis, Christoph von Dohnanyi, Keith Lockhart, and Robert Spano, among many others. In the realms of jazz, Latin, and commercial music, Subero has appeared with artists such as Bob Brookmeyer, Aretha Franklin, Slide Hampton, Jim McNeely, Claudio Roditi, Danilo Perez, and Chris Botti. Subero attended the Conservatorio Itinerante in Caracas, Venezuela, where he studied with the legendary Michel Becquet. After coming to the United States in 2001, he attended Boston Conservatory, where he studied with Lawrence Isaacson, and New England Conservatory of Music, where he studied with Douglas Yeo. He also studied with John Rojak at the Aspen Music Festival. 

Learn more about Subero.

Kenneth Amis holding tuba and smiling

Kenneth Amis       
Assistant Professor of Tuba, Boston Conservatory at Berklee

Kenneth Amis began his career in 1993 when he was appointed tuba player of the world-renowned ensemble Empire Brass. He has enjoyed performances as a soloist with the English Chamber Orchestra and as a member of the Tanglewood Festival and New World Symphony orchestras. Currently, Amis serves as principal tuba player for Empire Brass and the Palm Beach Opera Orchestra and is a performing artist for Besson instruments. In the last two decades, his performance skills have been showcased in many commercial recordings of chamber and large ensemble music. An active composer, Amis has been commissioned to write for the New England Conservatory Wind Ensemble, the University of Scranton, the College Band Directors National Association, and a consortium of 20 universities and music organizations. Audiences around the world have heard Amis’s music performed by the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra, the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, the Royal Academy of Music Symphonic Winds, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, and the National Arts Centre Orchestra of Ottawa, to name a few.

Learn more about Amis.

Marcus Rojas playing the tuba

Marcus Rojas       
Professor of Tuba 

Marcus Rojas has performed in an array of musical contexts, with artists ranging from the American Symphony Orchestra to reggae’s Sly and Robbie; from jazz great Lionel Hampton to extremist artist Foetus. He performed in Henry Threadgill’s ensembles throughout the 1990s and has been a familiar face on the stage of New York City’s Knitting Factory.

Boston Conservatory at Berklee Brass Festival Weekend’s solo brass competition is for prospective undergraduate and graduate students. The grand prize is a full-tuition scholarship to Boston Conservatory, covering the entire duration of their chosen program.

Please note that scholarships are valid only upon full admission to Boston Conservatory at Berklee.

Solo Competition Requirements

DEADLINE EXTENDED: Interested participants must meet the following criteria, no later than August 28, 2023:

  • They must be eligible to enroll in a degree or diploma program at Boston Conservatory at Berklee, beginning in fall 2024.
  • They must have a completed online application on file for Boston Conservatory at Berklee prior to the competition finals on October 1, 2023. Boston Conservatory’s application portal is open as of July 1. Learn more about how to apply and get started here.
  • They must submit a link to an unedited pre-screen video recording (with or without accompaniment), captured in a single take, including one selection from each of the three required categories, based upon their instrument.
  • Note: Recordings of poor quality may be disqualified.

Pre-Screen Competition Requirements

Selected Finalists

Finalists will be notified by September 5, 2023 with an invitation to perform in the live round of the competition on Sunday, October 1, 2023. Rehearsal time Saturday, September 30, and competition accompaniment will be provided.

For this live competition round, finalists must perform a piece from the competition requirements listed below. 

Final Round Live Performance Competition Requirements 

Any other questions can be emailed to Matthew Marsit at

Weekend Event Schedule