Q: when was meridian arts ensemble formed?
A: The Meridian Arts Ensemble was founded in 1987. The original members of the group wanted an opportunity to play challenging works, to experience control of their ensemble, and to find creative outlets for their musicianship. Meridian received its early education in the American Brass Quintet's brass class at the Juilliard School, and then launched its professional career. The ensemble has also performed multiple times as part of the annual Festival of New Trumpet Music in New York City.
Q: Where has meridian performed?
A: In the years since 1987, Meridian has performed in every state of the U.S. except Hawaii, and in the Netherlands, Belgium, Romania, Germany, Finland, Taiwan, Japan, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, Brazil, Mexico, and Colombia.
Q: WHAT TYPE OF MUSIC DO YOU PERFORM?
A: The Ensemble’s interest in expanding the horizons of concert repertoire is demonstrated through adaptations and performances of works by Don Carlo Gesualdo, J.S. Bach, Frank Zappa, Jimi Hendrix, Captain Beefheart, and Afro/Cuban dance styles. Commissions from Milton Babbitt, Elliott Sharp, Tania Leon, Su Lian Tan, Mark Applebaum, Hermeto Pascoal, Nick Didkovsky, David Sanford, The Common Sense Composers’ Collective, Stephen Barber, John Halle, and Kirk Nurock have created a balanced and broad ranging repertoire for brass and percussion that peers into every corner of today’s musical experience.
Q: what are some highlights of meridian’s history?
A: Career highlights include first prize at the 1990 Concert Artists Guild New York Competition; multiple winner of the ASCAP/Chamber Music America Adventurous Programming Award; and a performance at New York's Alice Tully Hall for the 25th Anniversary of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. Radio broadcasts include NPR's Weekend Edition (twice), St. Paul Sunday Morning, WDR Jazz Radio (Germany), Dutch National Radio, ORF (Austria), Voice of America, and Radio Free Europe.
Q: What’s the craziest story from meridian’s history?
A: Unfortunately, these files are closed until Jon Nelson writes an auto-biography detailing the accounts of Meridian’s past.
Q: what kind of music do you record?
A: The group has released nine critically acclaimed compact discs on the Channel Classics label, and has been credited with changing the face of brass chamber music through innovative repertoire and high-octane performances of works by Frank Zappa, J.S. Bach, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Tania Leon, King Crimson, Captain Beefheart, and Jimi Hendrix, and composers such as Mark Applebaum, Milton Babbitt, Alvin Etler, Elliott Carter, Tom Pierson, Stephen Barber, David Sanford, and Elliott Sharp. They perform Renaissance and Baroque music, Afro-Cuban dance styles, South American folk music and more, with MAE members often doing their own arranging. Click on “Albums” at the top of this page to read and hear more about our recordings.
Q: Who are the current and past members of the ensemble?
A: Currently (as of May, 2019) our ensemble is comprised of Jon Nelson (trumpet), Sycil Mathai (trumpet), Daniel Grabois (horn), Faustino Díaz (trombone and trumpet), and Raymond Stewart (tuba). Jon and Raymond are both founding members.
The trumpet chair originally occupied in 1987 by Rolf Holly quickly went to Richard Kelley, who appears on Meridian's first three CDs. Following Mr. Kelley's departure, a string of trumpeters performed with the group: Alex Holton, Darryl Shaw, Kevin Cobb, Wayne DuMaine, and Terry Szor. After a national audition, Josef Burgstaller joined and performed with the group for six years before joining the Canadian Brass. Brian McWhorter joined in 2001 until 2010. Tim Leopold, a NYC freelance artist was on board 2011-2018.
Hornist Daniel Grabois came to the ensemble in 1989, following a string of horn players. Tracy Leonard was the original hornist, followed by Lisa Aplikowski, Peter Reit, and Chris Komer. Mr. Grabois' six-month sabbatical was filled by Ann Ellsworth. Trombonist Benjamin Herrington was a founding member of the group. He retired in 2019 and was replaced by Faustino Diaz. Tubist Raymond Stewart was a founding member. His half-year sabbatical was filled by Marcus Rojas. Though the group was founded without a percussionist, from time to time certain projects call for percussion. The first drummer to play with the ensemble was Mo Roberts, who appears on the "Smart Went Crazy" CD. John Ferrari took over shortly thereafter, and joins the ensemble when percussion is required.
Q: what does the future hold for meridian arts ensemble?
A: Time will tell, but we are currently working on scheduling some potential tours in Mexico, the United States, and possibly Europe. We’ll also be completing some recording projects in the next year. We hope to see you soon in a city near you, but until then, keep in touch with us here and on Facebook.