BrassChix has welcomed several leading female brass players to share their expertise with us: Ellen Dinwiddie Smith (Minnesota Orchestra),  Lynn Erickson (Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra), Takako Seiminya Senn (Metropolitan Symphony), Lauren Husting (Metro Brass), Gretchen McNamara (Wright State University), Mary Ahern (Brava Brass), Buffy Larson (Capital City Brass), Becky Jyrkas and Vicki Wheeler (Eidelweiss Alphorn Duo), and Laurel Chapman (instrument repair) among others.

This year, our BrassChix session leaders will share their expertise in instrument breakout sessions, special performances and large group sessions. Low range will be a feature focus throughout the forum.

Takako Seimiya Senn, co-principal trumpet of the MSO, is this season’s Solo Concerto Competition winner, the second time she has earned this honor. An artist with international credentials, Takako won first prize in the prestigious Tokyo Bunkakaikan Hall Competition in 1993 and continues to be in demand as a soloist and freelance performer. Takako was selected for a 2001 tour of Japan and a 2008 tour of New York City with the Minnesota Orchestra and has performed with the ensemble in numerous subscription concerts and recordings. She has also performed with the Minnesota Opera and a number of freelance orchestral and chamber ensembles, as well as in productions of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and a 2009 Seven Brides for Seven Brothers at Chanhassen Dinner Theatre. Takako has been a member of the Minneapolis Pops Orchestra since 2015.

Takako earned her Bachelor of Music degree in performance and education at Musashino Academia Musicae, Tokyo and her Masters and Doctorate of Musical Arts degrees at the University of Minnesota. A dedicated teacher, she has worked with scores of students in various high schools and music studios throughout the Twin Cities. Takako currently serves as an adjunct professor of Trumpet at St. Cloud State University and Concordia University–St. Paul. Her teachers and coaches include Manny Laureano, David Baldwin, Ron Hasselmann, Frank Bencriscutto, and Isao Fukui.

Sarah Schmalenberger teaches courses in music history and literature, as well as studio French horn at St. Thomas. Currently, Dr. Schmalenberger is engaged with several areas of research, from a book chapter on all-female rock bands to a forthcoming journal article on Frank Zappa.  Her national research on the occupational and medical well-being of musicians after breast cancer has been published in medical journals.  She has also published extensively on the history of Black American women in classical music. Dr. Schmalenberger also maintains an active schedule as a freelance hornist, both the modern and the valveless horns. She is currently busy with two chamber ensembles and an all-female jazz band.  This spring, she is excited to perform as a guest horn soloist with the Farmington High School bands.

Lauren Husting, trombone, is a recognized presence on the Minneapolis-St Paul freelance scene. She has played with such diverse groups as Exultate Chamber Choir, Festival Brass, the Civic Orchestra of Minneapolis, the Minneapolis Trombone Choir, the Sheldon Theatre Brass Band, Winona Chamber Winds, and Minnesota Symphonic Winds. She also serves on the sublist for both the Mankato Symphony Orchestra and the Rochester Symphony Orchestra and Chorus. She holds the permanent co-principal chair (with colleague John Olson) in the 12-piece brass ensemble Metro Brass.

Not just a classical performer, Lauren spent time as a trombonist in the orchestras on Celebrity Cruise Lines. Performing everything from classical to jazz to show band charts, she has traveled the world and accompanied some amazing entertainers. She currently performs with the energetic Twin Cities traditional jazz and dance-hall quintet Mill City Five and the interstellar classic R&B cover band The Satellites.

Lauren serves as low brass instructor for both Hamline University and the West Bank School of Music, and teaches through Community Education in Chanhassen. She also teaches in the communities of Edina, St Louis Park, and NE Minneapolis. She has been BrassChix‘s Celebrity Trombonist in 2013, 2014, and 2016 and plans to reprise that role in January 2017. Her students have performed with GTCYS, MYS, Minnesota Junior Winds, Minnesota All-State Bands, and either continue to play for enjoyment past high school or go on to major in music at prestigious schools such as the University of Iowa and UW-Eau Claire.

Prior to Minnesota, Lauren played with the Santa Fe Symphony, Denton Community Theatre, the Copper Street Brass Quintet, and numerous North Texas lab bands and ensembles, including the prestigious UNT Wind Symphony. She can be heard on that group’s recordings Homage and Urban Dreams, available through GIA Windworks. A champion of new music, Ms Husting commissioned and premiered a solo work for trombone, Portal, by Dajeong Choi, in the spring of 2007. In the fall of 2009 she performed a guest artist recital and held masterclasses at Lincoln Memorial University in Harrigate, TN.

Lauren holds degrees from the University of North Texas and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and has studied with such diverse performers and educators as Jan Kagarice, Tony Baker, Vern Kagarice, William Richardson, and Sean Reusch. She will begin her doctoral studies in trombone performance in Fall 2016 under the tutelage of Professor Thomas Ashworth at the University of Minnesota, in hopes of obtaining a full-time college teaching job in the near future.

Jenn Werner has been a freelance low brass musician in the Twin Cities since 2006. Specializing in both euphonium and bass trombone, Jenn has performed in a large array of ensembles in all genres of music, including regular performances with the Encore Wind Ensemble, Bloomington Symphony Orchestra. She also performs with the Adam Meckler Orchestra, whose recent CD release When the Clouds Look Like This was recognized by Apple iTunes as one of the Best Jazz Albums of 2014. Jenn has also performed with other notable Twin Cities ensembles, including the Lake Wobegon Brass Band, the Sheldon Theatre Brass Band, the Explosion Big Band, the Metropolitan Symphony, and Compass Rose Brass Ensemble. Jenn plays a vintage Besson compensating euphonium which, as she describes it was "made before they gave them classy names like Sovereign." In 2010, Jenn graduated from the University of Minnesota, where her teachers included former U.S. Coast Guard Euphonium Soloist David Werden.  Jean earned a degree in Music Therapy and is credentialed as a Board Certified Music Therapist with the American Music Therapy Association.

Melissa Williams enjoys and exciting, busy life as a tuba performer and instructor.  Her current orchestra positions include the Evansville Philharmonic and Owensboro Symphony Orchestra.  She is also a member of the Keynote Brass ensemble in Indianapolis, and the national all-female ensemble Athena Brass Band.  A dedicated teacher, Ms. Williams is the Instructor of Tuba and Low Brass at Butler University.  In addition to teaching studio lessons, she leads inspiring sessions on career management and entrepreneurship.  

Special Guest Presenters from 

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Melanie Ditter plays French horn and Wagner tuba. She has a B.M. in Horn Performance from the University of Minnesota, and a diploma in Band Instrument Repair from Minnesota State College - Southwest Technical, Red Wing, MN. She’s been giving private lessons for six years. Melanie has performed with the Encore Wind Ensemble, the Bloomington Symphony, the Mankato Symphony, the Rochester Orchestra, and the Augsburg Choir Orchestra. She has also played in the pit at the Chanhassen Dinner Theater. She is currently repairing horns full-time at Twin Cities Instrument Repair, located at the Edina Schmitt Music. Melanie would like to continue doing freelance horn work, and eventually she hopes to open her own professional repair shop specifically for horns.

Keith Hilson, a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire with a bachelors degree in music education and the University of Minnesota with a masters and D.M.A. (ABD) in trombone performance, has been performing for over 15 years as a freelance musician and music educator. Now based in Minneapolis, MN with his wife and two children, Keith manages the Brooklyn Center branch of Schmitt Music as well as managing the Trombone Shop, which carries a wide selection of trombones, mouthpieces, cases accessories and music. He also freelances extensively throughout the Twin Cities and performs regularly with rock, jazz, and salsa groups.