Western Brass Quintet
Founded in 1966, the Western Brass Quintet is one of the oldest and most distinguished brass chamber music ensembles still active in the United States today. The ensemble has performed around the world including concert tours in Russia, Thailand, China, Sweden, Germany, as well as concerts in prestigious American venues such as the Kennedy Center and Carnegie Hall. The Quintet is a resident faculty ensemble in the School of Music at Western Michigan University.
Founded in 1994 by Dr. Barry Ross as the Kalamazoo College and Community Orchestra, the group brings together students, faculty, amateur and professional musicians of all ages to perform great music. Having grown enormously since its inception, the ensemble is now of full symphonic proportions, and has been recognized as an arts organization of major importance in the greater Kalamazoo area. The orchestra generally plays three concerts per season, the programs of which are introduced by Andrew Koehler and Cara Lieurance on WMUK the week preceding the performance. It also boasts an active chamber music program that plays outreach concerts throughout the community. It has produced several CDs, appeared on CBS Sunday Morning, and worked with such renowned artists as Orli Shaham, Anthony Ross, Orion Weiss, Adam Neimann, Makoto Nakura, Todd Palmer, John Bruce Yeh and Richard Stoltzman. Dr. Ross, who also served as assistant conductor and concertmaster of the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra, retired from his position with the orchestra at the end of the 2005-2006 season. After a national search, Andrew Koehler was appointed to succeed him as the new music director of the group, which subsequently renamed itself the Kalamazoo Philharmonia.
Andrew Koehler, conductor
Andrew Koehler is currently the music director of the Kalamazoo Philharmonia, which he leads as part of his position as an associate professor of music at Kalamazoo College. He holds a concurrent post as music director of the Kalamazoo Junior Symphony Orchestra, and is the cover conductor of the West Michigan Symphony Orchestra, frequently leading rehearsals for music director Scott Speck. More recently, he organized and conducted concerts with the Arcato Chamber Ensemble, made up of musicians from the Kalamazoo and Grand Rapids Symphonies. The group’s premiere performance was hailed as “…exceptional under his baton” by the Kalamazoo Gazette.
He is active as a guest conductor at home and throughout the world. In recent seasons, he has appeared with the Kalamazoo Bach Festival Orchestra; the Lyatoshynsky Chamber Orchestra in Kyiv, Ukraine; the Ruse Philharmonic in Bulgaria; the St. Cloud Symphony in Minnesota; the Festival South Chamber Orchestra in Mississippi; and, with only a weekend’s notice, the American Opera Group Orchestra in Chicago. 2013 will mark his debut at the Penderecki Center in Poland. He has additionally led ensembles under the auspices of the Aspen Music Festival, the 2006 Vakhtang Jordania International Conducting Competition (where he advanced to the final round and won the audience favorite prize), and the 9th Grzegorz Fitelberg International Conductor’s Competition in Katowice, Poland (where he won First Distinction and the Youth Jury Prize). Always eager to work with young musicians, he has also led the Vermont All-State Youth Orchestra and was previously music director of the Chamber Orchestra of the University of Chicago as well as the Akademisches Sinfonie-Orchester of Vienna, Austria.
Born in Philadelphia to Ukrainian parents, Andrew began his musical studies on the violin at the age of five. He is a graduate of Yale College, where he completed a B.A. in Music and German Studies (graduating with honors and distinction in both majors). During his time there, he served as assistant conductor of the Yale Symphony Orchestra and won the Seldin Memorial Prize in Music. He holds a certificate in conducting from the Universität für Musik und Darstellende Kunst in Vienna, where he studied for two years as a Fulbright scholar, as well as a Masters degree from Northwestern University. His principal teachers have been Victor Yampolsky and Leopold Hager; he has additionally worked with David Zinman, Jorma Panula, Neeme Järvi, and Mariss Jansons, among others.