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Brass, strings combine for ‘Classy Classics’ concert at 3 p.m. Sunday

Members of the Worthington Brass Quintet (clockwise from back left) Shirley Rempel, Galen Benton, Ed Berger, John Nordell and Rich Besel pose during rehearsal at the American Lutheran Church in Worthington. Brian Korthals/Daily Globe

WORTHINGTON — Ten talented area musicians will combine their considerable musical resources for a “Classy Classics and More” concert 3 p.m. Sunday at First United Methodist Church in downtown Worthington.

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The well-known Worthington Brass Quintet and the Great Plains String Quartet (GPSQ) will share the stage with guest pianist Wendell Mills of Mountain Lake, who will entertain during the intermission periods.

“Our brass group and the strings are very strong in saying that we believe God has given us something to share — the gift of music — and we love sharing it,” said Rich Besel, a trumpeter with the Worthington Brass, which has existed for more than 25 years.

“The Worthington community has given us so much joy and stability, and we see this as an opportunity to give back.”

Besel’s brass ensemble is complete with fellow Worthingtonians John Nordell (French horn), Shirley Rempel (trombone), Galen Benton (tuba) and Ed Berger of Mountain Lake (trumpet).

Together, they will perform a program Sunday ranging from the sacred (“Majesty” and “Holy, Holy, Holy”) to the classical (“Rondeau”) to American folk (“She’ll Be Comin’ Round the Mountain” and “Take Me Out to the Ballgame”).

“It tickles us to high fives when we play something well,” Besel said modestly. “We celebrate the success of playing the right notes at the right times — it happens sometimes,” he joked.

Sunday’s concert will not mark the first time they’ve teamed with the GPSQ. The two groups performed as intermission entertainment during the “Amazing” Worthington City Band’s July 2011 trip to Crailsheim, Germany, and they’ve shared the stage at other local concerts as well.

“We really enjoyed joining with the Worthington Brass for a March 14 concert this year at Lakeview Gospel Church in Mountain Lake, at the prompting of trumpeter Ed Berger to have us play where he lives and works,” said Melanie Loy, a violinist with the GPSQ.

“Ed has done so much for us in Worthington — playing trumpet in our churches, with the city band and with the Worthington Area Symphony Orchestra (WASO) — that it was very fun to give something back to his community, too.”

Loy and her GPSQ colleagues — cellist Sue Simonson, violist Karen Pfeifer and violinist Beth Habicht — haven’t yet logged as many years as the Worthington Brass, but they have performed together at least 97 times since organizing their ensemble in 2007, according to Pfeifer’s records.

“When I recently tallied up all our performances, whether for family gatherings or for formal concerts, it was surprising how diverse they have been,” said Pfeifer.

“We’ve played for weddings in country and city churches, plus a few outdoor ones, for receptions from the Historic Dayton House to Jackpot Junction, for worship services in several local churches, for intermission at summer band concerts, for community fundraisers, retirement parties and more.

“It’s very humbling to be asked to share our music, and we love being able to bring string music to occasions of all kinds.”

On Sunday, the GPSQ musicians — who also comprise the leadership team for WASO — will present numbers from composers such as Mozart and Dvorak, but also Cole Porter, Leonard Cohen, and Rodgers and Hammerstein.

“As a quartet, we like mixing it up and playing a variety of styles,” confided Pfeifer. “Certainly we enjoy performing the classical string quartet repertoire, but introducing audiences to folk tunes, dance numbers and movie themes they don’t usually expect from strings is really fun.

“We work at trying to get out of the box occasionally, and personally I love the traditional wedding repertoire we play (for preludes, processionals and postludes),” Pfeifer continued.

The camaraderie among the musicians in both the Worthington Brass and the GPSQ is a prime reason the groups have been so successful and long lasting.

“We have a knack for turning a two-hour rehearsal into a four-hour one because we thoroughly enjoy each other’s company and encouraging each other,” laughed Pfeifer.

“We love to talk and find out what everyone is doing, but then we finally get down to the business of making music,” Loy echoed.

And Sunday afternoon, concert attendees can relax in the music that will wash over them as the Worthington Brass, the GPSQ and pianist Mills (who is also an organist) present their talents.

Said Pfeifer, “Performing together is so gratifying because it’s a culmination of hours of practice time, and a chance to bring music to an appreciative audience.”

“Classy Classics and More,” a concert of the Worthington Brass Quintet and the Great Plains String Quartet, takes place 3 p.m. Sunday at First United Methodist Church, 408 11th St., Worthington. The concert is free and open to the public; a free-will offering will be taken, with proceeds benefiting the Worthington Area Symphony Orchestra.