This preview provided by Chamber Music Raleigh.

Shelagh Abate vividly recalls her final day as a student at the New England Conservatory. It coincides with the 2001 founding of Triton Brass by her and several classmates. “We formed on our last day of school,” says Abate, who plays French horn in the ensemble. “We knew we would have to make our own opportunities to play together once school was over.”

Early on, Triton concentrated on competitions. Prizes at the 2003 Fischoff International Chamber Music Competition and 2005 Lyon International Chamber Music Competition top the group’s long list of honors. “What was more important than winning them was preparing for them,” she says. “That really created the foundation for the sound of our group.”

Fifteen years later, all but one of the original members of Triton remains with the group. “That fact has kept our sound and our approach to music consistent,” says Abate, who lives in New York City. While trumpets tend to dominate the “top-heavy” sound of many brass ensembles, that’s not the case for Triton. “We have a solid-bottom bass that makes us unique,” she says. “It’s more of an equal representation.”

Triton brings its balanced brass to St. Michael’s Episcopal Church on Sunday, April 10th, in the season finale of Chamber Music Raleigh’s 2015-2016 Guild Series.

“We’re really looking forward to it,” says Abate. In addition to its Guild Series concert, Triton will lead a master class the prior afternoon from 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm at Raleigh’s Pleasant Grove United Methodist Church. The public is welcome to observe the class at no charge. The following Monday, the ensemble visits Ligon GT Middle School for a demonstration concert in front of Wake County Public School music students. That event is not open to the public. “It’s going to be a really fun weekend,” Abate says.

A figure from Greek mythology possessing a male body and tail of a dolphin, Triton is credited with inventing the trumpet. Joining Abate in the ensemble bearing his name are trumpeters Andrew Sorg and Stephen Banzaert, Wesley Hopper, trombone, and Angel Subero on bass trombone. With the exception of Abate, the New Yorker, Triton’s players are all based in Boston.

“We take a lot of musical risks,” says Abate, in elaborating on what makes Triton Brass unique. “We’re playing out of the box all the time.”

Nor are the ensemble’s programming choices conventional. “We’re strong proponents of new music,” she says. Triton has a standing invitation to composers around the world to send the group material. Plus, trumpet player Andrew Sorg is a composer. Triton will perform his “Mental Disorders,” one of two brass quintets Sorg has composed, at its April 10th concert. The group also has recorded the 14-minute work on its eponymously named debut CD.

Triton’s repertoire runs the gamut from pre-Baroque to the 21st century. “We’re going to provide more or less a history of brass chamber music in a two-hour program,” Abate says. Through the centuries, music for brass evolved as innovations took brass instruments through their various incarnations. “Modern instruments allow for more,” she says.

The ensemble’s Raleigh program includes early works by Giovanni Gabrieli and J.S. Bach, as well as Victor Ewald’s (1860-1935) popular Quintet #1 and a ragtime piece by Uruguayan composer Enrique Crespo (b. 1941). “There’s a huge variety of styles,” Abate says, “and we’ll talk the audience through it along the way.”

Triton’s members, like those of many chamber ensembles, maintain busy schedules as freelance musician. “We play with dozens of groups. It’s quite a juggling act,” says Abate, who performs regularly in Broadway orchestras.

Abate, a Long Island native, picked up her first French horn in the 4th grade. “The sound was unique, and I knew it was special,” she recalls. “The sound was strong, powerful, beautiful and soulful. I knew I wanted to play it.”

Triton Brass’s April 10th performance in Raleigh starts at 3:00 p.m. General admission tickets range from $10 for students to $15 for young professionals and $28 for adults. Chamber Music Raleigh sells tickets at the door on the day of the show as well as online at its website:

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