Demondrae Thurman is considered one of the stars of the formidable generation of brass soloists. His euphonium playing has been described as “awe inspiring”, and he is touted as “an amazing musician”. Demondrae has a firm international reputation as a euphonium soloist having performed in Europe, Asia and throughout North America. Many of Americas premiere colleges and universities have hosted him as a performer and teacher and he continues to be in extremely high demand. Over the last eighteen years, Demondrae has been an invited guest artist/clinician at many of the world’s prestigious low brass festivals including the International Tuba/Euphonium Conference, U.S. Army Band Tuba and Euphonium Conference and the Leonard Falcone Competition.
Demondrae’s conducting career began in 1999 when he co-founded the wind ensemble at Alabama State University. Since that time, he has appeared as a guest conductor with numerous wind bands, brass bands, and symphony orchestras. His symphony orchestra debut came in 2008 conducting Scheherazade by Rimsky Korsakov with the Huxford Symphony Orchestra of the University of Alabama where he also served as its conductor from 2011-2013. He is currently in his 7th season as Resident Assistant Conductor of the Tuscaloosa Symphony Orchestra.
Demondrae is also an active chamber musician. He plays first euphonium and trombone in the highly regarded Sotto Voce Quartet which tours extensively. The quartet has released four recordings; all of which have received stellar reviews. Viva Voce!: The Complete Quartets of Johns Stevens won the International Tuba/Euphonium Association award for best chamber music recording in 2006. The quartet has been featured several times on American Public Media’s, Performance Today. He also plays first baritone horn in the Brass Band of Battle Creek, a British brass band comprised of many of the world’s best brass and percussion performers. In addition to his chamber music work, Demondrae is in high demand as a euphonium/bass trumpet specialist for symphony orchestras. He has performed with the New York Philharmonic, Atlanta Symphony, Sarasota Orchestra, North Carolina Symphony, Eastern Music Festival Orchestra, Oregon Symphony, and the Philadelphia Orchestra.
In addition to the Sotto Voce Quartet recordings, Demondrae released his first solo recording on the Summit Records label in 2005 entitled, Soliloquies. It received a 9/9 out of 10/10 from classicstoday.com and he was referred to as “having earned (his) stripes as one of the premiere euphonium players in the world”. Showing his dedication to new music, all of the music on the recording was written for him or with his playing in mind. His second album, Songs of a Wayfarer, was released in 2011. The latest recording, Snapshots: The Spirit of Collaboration, was released in March of 2014. Demondrae can also be heard on recordings with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Brass Band of Battle Creek, and the New South Jazz Orchestra.
Demondrae Thurman is a Miraphone Performing Artist and plays exclusively the Miraphone 5050 Ambassador “Edition” euphonium which was designed specifically for him. He also plays the custom “Demondrae” model mouthpiece manufactured by Warburton Music Products and is a Shires Trombone Performing Artist.
David Kirk is Principal Tubist of the Houston Symphony and an Associate Professor at Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music, positions held since 1982.
Mr. Kirk enjoys an international reputation for effective teaching of musicianship and the physical aspects of wind playing. Kirk was selected for his teaching and playing positions during his final year of undergraduate studies at the Juilliard School. While at Juilliard, he studied with Don Harry. Mr. Kirk's other teachers include David Waters, Chester Schmitz, Warren Deck, and Neal Tidwell.
Mr. Kirk appears as a guest performer and teacher in North America and Japan. Locally, he is an active recitalist and chamber music collaborator. He serves on the faculty of the Texas Music Festival, a summer conservatory held annually at the University of Houston’s Moores School of Music.
His orchestral playing is heard on Houston Symphony recordings under conductors Sergiu Comissiona, Newton Wayland, Christoph Eschenbach, Michael Krajewski, Hans Graf, and Andrés Orozco-Estrada. Kirk’s solo playing is featured on Mark Custom Recordings’ The Music of Leroy Osmon, Volume 1.
FivE is a creative and innovative new quartet that pushes the boundaries of low brass chamber music. Combining comedy and theater with outstanding musicianship, FivE brings fresh energy to a unique musical product. Conceived in 2012, FivE has attracted national attention for its distinguished sound, popular YouTube videos, and success in chamber music competitions. In 2013, FivE was selected internationally as one of twelve ensembles to compete in the 40th Fischoff Chamber Music Competition, the largest of its kind in the world. FivE is the only euphonium quartet ever to advance to the Fischoff quarterfinals.
The recent emergence of euphonium quartet as a serious performing ensemble coincides with a need to expand the canon of original repertoire. As a result, FivE composes, arranges, and adapts new music and old favorites specifically tailored to the strengths of the ensemble while combating the difficulties of arranging for homogeneous instruments.
FivE performed their popular shows “NEON”, “#hashtags”, and “FivE Years of FivE” in over a dozen cities since 2015. Highlight performances include a featured recital at the International Tuba Euphonium Conference, a showcase at the TMEA convention, and four keynote appearances at ITEA conferences. The quartet also regularly gives clinics and has toured through Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Florida, Indiana, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.
Individually, the members of FivE have excelled in prestigious solo and composition competitions. Their successes include first prizes in the Leonard Falcone International Euphonium and Tuba Festival, the MTNA Young Artist Solo and Composition Competitions, ITEC Young Artist Competition, Euphoniumcommissions.org, and University Concerto Competitions.
In the Fall of 2017, FivE released their first full album titled “Play” on iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, and other popular media platforms. FivE is a performing ensemble with Buffet Crampon and plays exclusively on Besson instruments.