Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Brass ensemble performs on campus

The musical group InoraBrass has been performing all over the Plattsburgh area for the past year, bringing the sound of great music with them.

InoraBrass is Vermont and Northern New York’s premier professional brass ensemble. The group is comprised of Grammy Award-winning musicians who have played with other artists and bands, such as the Nashville Symphony, Phish, the Vermont Symphony and James Taylor, on Broadway and at Carnegie Hall.

Created in Northern New York and Vermont, the group came together in 2012, but didn’t become official until 2014.

The ensemble was named after the Goddess of Mountain Snow and celebrates the parallel between the majesty of brass music and the natural beauty of Vermont and Northern New York.

Chris Rivers, one of the five members in the group said it was an easy decision to make the band official.

“We were playing student compositions over at schools in Vermont, and we noticed right away that we all got along well,” he said.

Rivers teaches at Harwood Union High School in Vermont when he is not playing the trumpet in InoraBrass.

“For us to practice, it is a large commitment,” Rivers said. “We are in a pretty large geographical area. When we come together, it is so we can become better and make music.”

Rivers said he knew right away the trumpet was for him — he has been playing it since the fifth grade.

The concert will take place on campus and will have a mix of different types of music.

“We are playing a wide variety of music,” Rivers said. “From contemporary-modern to a sweet jazz ballad, and everything in between.”

Bill Keck, who plays the tuba in the group, has been playing for 60 years.

Aside from playing the tuba, he had conducted a string and jazz program for 14 years. Keck retired from teaching in 2010, a few years before the group came together.

“There will be special moments in the concert you will be able to see of everyone working together, trying to make the best sound possible,” Keck said.

Keck said playing the tuba in a brass quintet is much more satisfying than playing the tuba in an orchestra.

“You’re an equal member in the group,” Keck said, “you play more music.”

Not all groups can come together and work hard to not only make themselves better, but also make sure their group members are getting better as well.

All groups are a work in progress, including this one. But the members of InoraBrass call themselves unique.

Lori Salimando-Porter said the ensemble clicked at the first concert they played together.

When Porter isn’t playing the trombone in InoraBrass, she is a freelance trombone player in both New York and Vermont. This semester, she teaches PSUC students how to play the trombone.

“I think my favorite part of playing in the group is reaching out and touching other people’s hearts,” Porter said.

Porter said between the five members, there is over 100 years of music experience.

“We enjoy the literature of music and enjoy each other’s company — we click together.”

“Our goal is to try and sound really good and have fun,” Rivers said. “It’s like finding your tribe. We just have a lot of fun.”

Email Samantha Stahl at

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