As I made my way to my seat to watch Mnozil Brass at the Luhrs Center on Feb 28, I was not sure what to expect. I had never heard of Mnozil Brass before and could only assume that they were a group of brass instrumentalists. I was pleasantly surprised to find that not only was Mnozil Brass a group of musicians, but they were also comedians and talented vocalists.
Mnozil Brass is an Austrian brass septet made up of seven musicians: Thomas Gansch, Robert Rother, Roman Rindberger, Leonhard Paul, Gerhard Fussl, Wilfried Brandstötter and Zoltan Kiss. Given that the group is from Austria, a lot of the pieces they played were Austrian folk songs, but they threw in plenty of variety throughout the night.
The ensemble began the performance with an upbeat folk song, but quickly switched gears to a comedy routine with one of the performers dressing up and miming the actions of a young and hip DJ. As the DJ “switched” records, the ensemble followed accordingly and played a variety of popular ’80s hits, such as “Girls Just Want To Have Fun” and “Take On Me.”
I would classify the performance as more of a musical comedy than a serious concert. Gansch acted as host for the ensemble and would routinely address the audience, although it was impossible for me to understand what he was saying, given that he spoke only in Spanish.
I am pretty sure the change in language was for comedic effect, but that is something I guess I will never know for sure. There were many other comedy routines, including a cyborg dance battle, a circus bear sequence, an odd interpretation of monkeys discovering what appeared to be a space ship and two astronauts taking a selfie with an object they found on their exploration of the moon.
The ensemble began their encore with a comedy act that eventually turned into a sheer performance of musical talent. Paul reappeared on stage to oddly remove his shoes and socks. Soon after, Kiss and Fussl also came back onto the stage and placed the slides of their trombones between Paul’s toes. Then he began to play their instruments with just his feet. As if that was not difficult enough, Gansch and Rother emerged with their trumpets and Paul began to play a trumpet with each hand, while simultaneously playing the two trombones with his feet. This act of amazing talent and concentration warranted a standing ovation from the crowd.
One of my favorite aspects of the show was when the musicians took a break from their instruments and comedy routines to perform a cappella. The first a cappella performance was an Austrian folk song that they sang in German. Although I did not know what they were singing about, the change in dynamics and the harmony of the group, as a whole, was spectacular. The second a cappella performance was part of the ensemble’s encore, which to the audience’s delight, they sang “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Mnozil Brass’ rendition of the famous song was nothing short of amazing and was absolutely the best way they could have ended their performance for the night.
Watching Mnozil Brass perform was most definitely an entertaining way to spend my Saturday night. Although a lot of the comedy acts caused me, specifically, some confusion, the rest of the audience was rolling with laughter.
Having never been to any type of brass performance beforehand, I was thoroughly impressed with the musical talent of Mnozil Brass. It is no surprise that the group has garnered so many fans across the globe, for the music they produce is truly beautiful and captivating.