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Music

One of brass's 'Legends' comes to play with River City Brass in Penn Hills

| Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
Lithuanian euphonium soloist Algirdas Matsonis
River City Brass
Lithuanian euphonium soloist Algirdas Matsonis

Performing with River City Brass is a prize, not just a job, for Algirdas Matsonis.

“Having an opportunity to perform as a soloist with them and spend time with all the amazing players is an absolute privilege to me,” he says.

Matsonis, a Lithuanian euphonium soloist studying in Manchester, England, will be the featured guest in the band's “Legends” series, opening Oct. 2 in Penn Hills.

He is here as the winner of the Fodor's Solo Competition in the United Kingdom. Part of that prize was a chance to be part of a solo competition in Australia, but the event was canceled. Matsonis then was offered a chance to do a series with River City Brass.

Artistic director James Gourlay says having Matsonis as a soloist offers the group a chance to add variety to the program, which is built around music and themes focusing on heroes from Harry Potter to James Bond.

“It is always good when you are able to step away from the theme of the concert and then step back into it,” Gourlay says.

The show will include some of John Williams' works from “E.T.” and “Star Wars” as well as a visit from the valkyries of Richard Wagner.

Matsonis will perform two movements from a concerto for his horn by jazz saxophonist Andy Scott. He also will play a piece called “Harlequin” by brass arranger Philip Sparke, a British composer often featured by the brass band.

Gourlay says he is hoping soloists such as Matsonis and the newer works they perform will help to attract audiences seeking fresh brass material.

That also seems to reflect Matsonis' work. He is in graduate school at the Royal Northern College of Music, blending study with performing.

He also is considering a teaching post he has been offered at the Lithuania Academy of Music and Theatre.

“My main goal now is to bring brass music a bit more mainstream and into public eyes,” Matsonis says. “So, I am participating in various cultural projects where I can display the euphonium and represent brass music to people outside the brass-music world.”

Bob Karlovits is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7852 or bkarlovits@tribweb.com.

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