WILKES-BARRE — On a recent Tuesday afternoon, the distinctive music that makes people think of “Masterpiece Theatre” came spilling from the back room of a music store in Throop — but Alistaire Cooke was nowhere in sight.
Instead, five members of a quintet called Brass Reflections played Jean-Joseph Mouret’s “Rondeau,” getting ready for “The Joy and Spirit of Christmas” concert they will perform at 4 p.m. Dec. 27 at the Wyoming Valley Art League building on South Franklin Street.
The performance will be part of the Sunday at the Circle series of events in the Art League’s brick building, which is round and somewhat narrow, like a tower. Tuba player Raymond Stedenfeld, of Gouldsboro, thinks the building will be acoustically ideal for the brass sound.
“The first time I was in, it was just a few weeks ago for a reading of “A Christmas Carol” and I think the music will definitely ring in that room. We are going to perform a few classical works mixed in with Christmas fare, and those pieces are Renaissance and Baroque, written to be performed in rather narrow brick churches. So it will be very appropriate.”
Besides Stedenfeld on tuba, the group will include Barrie Bartle, of Hamlin, and Mary Ann Yonchiuk, of Tunkhannock, on trumpets (fans of the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders may have heard Yonchiuk play the national anthem at PNC field in Moosic) and Cliff Girard, of Clarks Summit, and Jared Hayden, of Lake Ariel, on trombones. Hayden will fill in for quintet regular Wayne Smith, a euphonium player from Elmhurst, who will be in California visiting his grandchildren.
Most of the regular members of the group are retired music teachers — “That’s why we can rehearse on a Tuesday at noon” Yonchiuk said with a smile — and their link to Wilkes-Barre is a friendship with musician Jason Smeltzer, who has played his theremin (the kind of instrument that played the theme song for “Star Trek”) during the previous Sunday at the Circle events.
Much of the Dec. 27 program will be standard Christmas selections arranged by Sammy Nestico, a Pittsburgh composer known for his big-band arrangements. “He’s written these Christmas tunes with beautiful harmonies,” Stedenfeld said.
The musicians also will play Bach’s “In Dulci Jubilo” and Bizet’s “Farendole,” which Stedenfeld said should remind people of the three kings traveling. Just for fun, he said, the group plans a brief singalong of three or four carols.
Stedenfeld retired a year and a half ago as band director of Western Wayne High School in Lake Ariel and said one of his goals has been “to perform a lot more. As band director, I was busy taking care of the marching band and the jazz band, taking kids everywhere and loving every minute of it but I got so busy I had no time for my own performances.”
Over the summer, he said, he formed “a little group of music teachers that really jelled.”
“Everybody is dedicated to it.”