“The show was like a musical circus,” said Weehawken resident Janet Tava after the Hudson Riverfront Performing Arts Center’s (HRPAC) concert last Thursday afternoon in the UBS Atrium in Lincoln Harbor. But the Austrian-based Mnozil Brass, a comedic chamber ensemble, wasn’t exactly what members of the crowd were expecting. From singing to miming to dancing to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” the group was anything but conventional.
Anticipating a traditional chamber concert, the crowd was entertained with modern arrangements of songs like Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” and Frank Sinatra’s “My Way.” But the most memorable highlight of the performance was when lead musician, Leonhard Paul, removed his shoes and socks and played his band mates’ instruments with his feet.
“Chamber music groups would really get a lot of ideas from this show.” – Bruce Heim
Fellow resident and musician Joe Cimino, who has played with his band “Finish This” for the past 30 years, agreed. “I’ve never heard anything like it. For them to sing [Queen’s] ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ was out of this world.”
Mnozil Brass originated in Austria in 1992 and toured the world with their light-hearted approach to chamber music for the past 18 years. But for all the entertaining song and dance, the musicianship never takes a back seat. According to the group’s website, horn player Roman Rindberger was faxed the sheet music to the show only hours before his first night performing with the band in 2004.
Rindberger said it usually takes the band up to five months to learn a routine that the group performs on international tours. “When we’re touring, it’s usually the same show, so we work hard on it,” he said. For this year’s American tour, the group will visit Washington D.C. for the National Trumpet Competition this weekend, Los Angeles, and other American cities.
“We only got to stay in Weehawken for one day,” Rindberger said, where the group played two shows. “But the audience was really cool. We really liked it.”
Professor and alp horn player Bruce Heim said that other chamber ensembles have a lot to learn from the group’s comedic approach.
“Chamber music groups would really get a lot of ideas from this show,” Heim said. “There was a lot of stuff that no one has done before. The props and the connection with the audience.” Fellow alp horn player Virginia Anderer agreed. “Their whole act was unbelievably amazing – just phenomenal players. From the choreography and the arrangements to the harmonies,” she said.
For more information on Mnizol Brass, please visit: www.mnizolbrass.at.
Although out-of-town UBS workers enjoyed the performance on their lunch breaks, many Weehawken residents were glad to get away for an hour and enjoy the free performances held by HRPAC.
“The acoustics are really amazing inside the atrium,” said Weehawken resident Karen Osborne, who also brought along her daughter to the performance. “The great sound makes the music easy to appreciate and a little more adult oriented.” Osborne and her family regularly attend the summer performances on the Weehawken waterfront, but this was her first time inside the atrium.
“The show was totally unexpected,” she said. “The group is quite the experience.” But for Osborne just being able to spend an hour with her daughter was worth the trip.
“For me, I can sneak out a get an hour of peace and serenity,” she said. “And I’m still able to get the errands done.”
For information on upcoming HRPAC performances, please visit: www.hrpac.org.
Sean Allocca can be reached at email@example.com