Click on a member's name for a biography
Chris Gekker, trumpet
Gekker is currently Associate Professor of trumpet at the School of Music at
the University of Maryland, having previously served on the faculties of The
Juilliard School, the Manhattan School of Music and Columbia University. He was
a member of the world-renowned American Brass Quintet for eighteen years, as
well as principal trumpet for the Orchestra of St. Luke's. He has performed and
recorded frequently with various other groups, such as the Orpheus Chamber
Orchestra and the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, and remains in demand
with these organizations. Mr. Gekker appears as soloist on numerous recordings.
His recording of solos by Hovhaness won "Best Recording on an Independent
Label" in 1994 by Billboard magazine. He has been a featured soloist at
Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center, as well as throughout the United States,
Europe, and Asia. Mr. Gekker has recorded and performed with many jazz and
popular artists. At the 1998 Rainforest Benefit in Carnegie Hall, he was a
featured soloist with Sting and Elton John. His solo trumpet is also prominent
in the recent movie, "The Thin Red Line."
Robert Biddlecome, bass trombone
Robert Biddlecome (bass trombone, euphonium) began his music studies with piano lessons and later took up the euphonium, then the trombone. With only a few lessons he demonstrated a musical talent that brought encouragement from his teachers to continue his studies and to follow a musical career. Upon graduating from high school, he decided that the trombone was his instrument of choice and undertook studies with the great trombonist and euphonium soloist, Simone Mantia. He progressed rapidly with Mantia, who immediately recognized his potential and after one year recommended that he audition for Juilliard. He was accepted as a student of Roger Smith and graduated with a diploma in trombone in 1952. While at Juilliard he gained considerable orchestra experience under conductor Jean Morel. At the same time he was a member of the National Orchestral Association Orchestra conducted by Leon Barzin. At graduation he had already been playing with the Radio City Music Hall Orchestra, played under Fritz Reiner at the Metropolitan Opera, and seemed to be on his way. Nevertheless, he decided to join the United States Army Band in Washington, DC, where he was assistant first trombone, alongside Keig Garvin, for four years. He then moved to the solo euphonium chair and held that position for five years, until he left the Band in 1961 to return to New York and further pursue his "classical" music aspirations.
Upon returning to New York, Mr. Biddlecomes first performing opportunity was with the Goldman Band, under Richard Franko Goldman. He remained with the band for three summers; two as a trombonist and one as solo euphonium. Following his first season with Goldman, he made an extensive tour with the NY City Ballet, under Robert Irving, playing both trombone and euphonium, followed by running off to finish the season as a member of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra under Peter Herman Adler.
Next came what would turn out to be one of the most important auditions he would ever take, to replace Gilbert Cohen, who was leaving the fledgling American Brass Quintet in order to join the New York Philharmonic. He got the job and shortly afterwards was offered the bass trombone position with the NY City Ballet Orchestra. From this point on, he became a bass trombonist, who also doubled on euphonium. He performed throughout the world as a member of the American Brass Quintet for twenty-eight years, until he left the group in 1990, and may be heard on more than thirty recordings with the ABQ. It was during his tenure that the ABQ began its ongoing commissioning program, made its first recordings, made its first international tours, started the Aspen and Juilliard residencies and became recognized as the premier brass ensemble that it remains today. Despite his busy performing schedule, Mr. Biddlecome managed to return to Juilliard and obtain both his Bachelors and Masters degrees.
Mr. Biddlecome is still an active performing musician and bass trombonist of the New York City Ballet Orchestra and the American Composers Orchestra and also plays frequently with the New York City Opera. For twenty years he was bass trombonist of the American Symphony Orchestra, under Music Directors Leopold Stokowski, Kazuyoshi Akiyama, Sergiu Comissiona, Giuseppe Patane, Moshe Atzmon, Catherine Comet, John Mauceri and Leon Botstein. In addition he was bass trombonist of the Musica Aeterna Orchestra, did a Broadway run of 110 in the Shade and has played bass trombone with the Aspen Festival Orchestra since 1970.
Presently Executive Director of The American Brass Chamber Music Association, Mr. Biddlecome also served for many years as a board member of Chamber Music America, as a board member and president of the American Symphony Orchestra, and for more than twenty years was a member of the Aspen Music Festival administration and Festival Orchestra Manager from 1970 to 1997. He has been a faculty member at Brooklyn College Conservatory, the Mannes School of Music and the Juilliard School.
Edward R. Birdwell, horn
Adjunct lecturer, Seattle Washington; consultant for musical and presenting
organizations nation-wide; former managing director and executive vice president, Seattle
Symphony Orchestra; former director, Music Program, National Endowment for the Arts;
former orchestra manager, Boston Symphony Orchestra; former executive director, Los
Angeles Chamber Orchestra; former managing partner/performing artist, American Brass
Arthur Goldstein, horn
Arthur E. Goldstein, 83, a French horn player and an 802 member since 1946, died on January 2, 2009. Born in Brooklyn, NY, he graduated from the New England conservatory in 1950 where he studied with Willem Valkenier.
Mr. Goldstein served in the U.S. Army with the 388th ASF Band during World War II, which included a White House performance.
During his long career he performed with the Buffalo Philharmonic, the Chicago Symphony, Radio City Music hall, Long Island Symphony and numberous Broadway shows and recordings. He was a founding member of the Metropolitan Brass Quintet and was on the faculty of Nassau Community College and Hofstra University for 43 years.
Mr. Goldstein was author and publisher of the Eric von Schmutzig Series books as well as several horn method books.
An active union member, he was chair of Local 802's CAC committee for 10 years.
Arnold Fromme, trombone
Arnold Fromme was a founder and the original tenor trombonist of
the American Brass Quintet for its first ten years.
Theodore Weis was principal trumpet with the New York City Opera Orchestra from 1949 to 1964 and again from 1968 to 1976. He was principal trumpet with the New York City Ballet Orchestra from 1949 to 1976. Beginning in 1976 he moved to third trumpet and became the Assistant Personnel Manager. He was also a founding member of the American Brass Quintet 1960 and remained with the quintet until 1962.
Ronald Anderson studied with Herbert Mueller at Central Missouri State Univer. (B.Mus.Ed) and with william Vacchiano at Juilliard (B.X., M.S.). He later attended Columbia (M.A., Ed.D.). Mr. Anderson has taught at Purchase, NYU and Stony Brook but recently retired from the Music Faculty of Bennington college. He has appeared as recitalist and soloist in New York, Chicago Washington, Toronto, Dublin, Stockholm, Munich, and Beijing while recording repeatedly for European broadcasting stations and for numerous record label. Many trumpet works have been composed for Ron Anderson: Emmanual Ghent, Stefan Wolpe (2), Chas. Wuorinen, Ralph Shapey (2), Justin connolly, Harvey Sollberger, John Lessard (6), Chas. Dodge and Karl Korte. In addition, he has performed premieres of works by Varese, Stravinsky, Babbitt, Carter, Martino and Dovidovsky. Mr. Anderson has recorded and performed under Bernstein, Boulez, Casals, Wallenstein, Mitropoulos, Stravinsky, Robt. Irving, Muti, Stokowsky, Mehta, Robt. Craft, etc. For many summers, he performed and recorded works by younger composers during the Composers Conference at Wellesley College. Ronald Anderson was the first wind artist from the west to begin teaching, performing and conducting Western music in China, immediately after its Cultural Revolution. In 1981, he conducted the first performances in China of Stravinsky's "Symphonies of Winds" and his Octet for winds. Mr. Anderson was an original member of the Group for Contemporary Music--prototype of such new-music ensembles in the U.S. and Europe today--as well as an early member of the fames American Brass Quintet and of the New York Pro Musica Antiqua (cornetto/Zink). he was principal trumpet of the NY City Ballet Orchestra in Lincoln Center for many years. Former students of Mr. Anderson are performing the major orchestras and ensembles, and former doctoral candidates of his are teaching in universityies in the US and Canada. For many years, Prof. Anderson led a graduate research seminar in 16th century wind ornamentation. He is the recipient of an M.B. Rockefeller Grant, he was a member of the National Screening Committee (Music) for the Fulbright Program of the US Dept of State, and was a board member of the ISCM and of the Stefan Wolpe Society.