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Tuesday, October 03, 2023

Globe-trotting brass ensemble performs at Santa Fe College

The college hosted the Rodney Marsalis Philadelphia Big Brass as part of the SF Master Artist Series

The Rodney Marsalis Philadelphia Big Brass ensemble performs in the Santa Fe College Master Artist Series at Jackson N. Sasser Fine Arts Hall at Santa Fe College on Friday, Sept. 15, 2023.
The Rodney Marsalis Philadelphia Big Brass ensemble performs in the Santa Fe College Master Artist Series at Jackson N. Sasser Fine Arts Hall at Santa Fe College on Friday, Sept. 15, 2023.

Audience members flooded the Jackson N. Sasser Fine Arts Hall Sept. 15, swaying along to Bach, clapping to the beat of marches and rallying players through trumpet solos with shouts of “olé.”

The Rodney Marsalis Philadelphia Big Brass performed at Santa Fe College as a part of the SF Master Artist Series, a program that gives fine arts students the opportunity to learn from professional performers. 

Seven members of the ensemble’s 11 were present at the performance. The band played classical arrangements from artists such as J.S. Bach and John Phillip Sousa, as well as popular pieces from West Side Story, Elvis Presley and Earth, Wind & Fire.

Rodney Marsalis, a widely renowned trumpet player and the band’s namesake, said that the band has performed across the globe.

“We travel a lot in this group,” he said. “We have been all over the United States. We’ve been to Europe. We’ve been all around Asia and South America.”

Traveling has given him and other members of the ensemble the opportunity to interact with people of many backgrounds, Marsalis said.

“One thing that we’ve learned from meeting so many different people in so many different places is that there is just one race and that’s the human race,” he said. “We’re all in this together.”

Gregory Freeman, the ensemble’s trombone player, said however diverse the band’s members are, they have a strong sense of connection and community.

“One of our core beliefs in this group is that, while we all come from a variety of backgrounds,” he said, “one of the things that ties everybody together and gives us a human connection is love.”

A goal of the band is to inspire youth and encourage them “to reach for their dreams,” according to its website.

The SF Master Artist Series, which brought RMPBB to the college, is a program that works to do just that, Sarah White, SF’s theatre manager, said.

“We don’t just get people to come and perform,” she said. “We want them to engage with our students.”

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As part of the series, the performing artists teach master classes to SF students and perform privately for them, White said. Band students from Buchholz High School have also benefited from the program in the past, she said. 

“They are showing students that it’s possible to follow your passion and make a living in the business,” she said. “For kids to get these kinds of life skills and tips from these professionals that are out there doing it, that’s super important.”

Admission to SF Fine Arts events is free for SF students, faculty and staff. Upcoming events can be found on Showpass.

Contact Bailey Diem at Follow her on Twitter @BaileyDiem.

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Bailey Diem

Bailey Diem is a first-year journalism major at UF and is the Santa Fe Reporter for The Alligator for Fall 2023. When not reporting, Bailey can be found playing guitar or getting lost in a book.

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