3rd Coast Brass presents rarely-performed edition of ‘Pictures At An Exhibition’ for Chamber Music on the Fox’s season finale

18-piece brass ensemble takes on Howarth’s arrangement of Mussorgsky’s masterpiece, as well as music by Gunther Schuller and Bjork

Chamber Music on the Fox closes out its 10th season with a nontraditional twist on the classical repertoire. This will mark the first time Chicago-based 3rd Coast Brass will come together as a large-scale symphonic brass ensemble.

Brass legend Mark Fisher will conduct the 18-piece ensemble, consisting of notable Chicago area musicians including members of the Lyric Opera Orchestra of Chicago, Elgin Symphony Orchestra, Grant Park Music Festival, and Chamber Music on the Fox artistic director Mark Fry.

The program’s feature piece is a nod to the Philip Jones Brass Ensemble — which is credited with giving brass musicians visibility outside of an orchestra setting — as the symphonic brass ensemble performs Elgar Howarth’s arrangement of Modest Mussorgsky’s famous “Pictures At An Exhibition.”

Originally composed as a piano suite by Mussorgsky in 1874 (and performed as such by Natasha Paremski on the Chamber Music on the Fox series in 2019), English composer Howarth arranged the masterpiece for brass ensemble 103 years later, in 1977, which was recorded the same year by the Philip Jones Brass Ensemble.

Also on the program is Schuller’s epic Symphony for Brass and Percussion, and Björk’s Overture to “Dancer in the Dark,” a 2000 film that also starred the singer/composer.

“The pieces we are playing in this concert are both interesting and special to me in that the Gunther Schuller’s Symphony for Brass is very unusual,” said Matthew Gaunt, tuba player for 3rd Coast Brass. “Schuller wrote this work specifically to show brass instruments doing things unlike what they normally do in band and orchestra.

“The ’Pictures At An Exhibition’ is a really famous work that everybody knows and for me to play this particular arrangement is really exciting because it is one of the first recordings that my tuba teacher gave to me when I was a kid that got me excited about playing the tuba. So, I am really excited to play this with some fantastic musicians,” Gaunt said.

Chamber Music on the Fox co-founder, artistic director, and bass trombone player Mark Fry grew up listening to the Philip Jones Brass Ensemble’s many recordings, as well as performing several arrangements by them.

“I was quite literally shell shocked when I first heard their ‘Pictures’ the first time. I am thrilled to share this remarkable arrangement with Chamber Music on the Fox audiences in May. It is very fitting that CMOTF will have programmed both the original piano version and this very special arrangement for the symphonic brass ensemble on our series,” Fry said.

The concerts will be held at 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 17, at the Woodstock Opera House; 2:30 p.m. Sunday, May 19, at The Venue in Aurora; and 7:30 p.m. Monday, May 20, at First United Methodist Church in Elgin.

Tickets are available at A virtual ticket option is also available for those who cannot make the concert in person.

If you go

Chamber Music on the Fox presents “Pictures At An Exhibition” featuring 3rd Coast Brass, with conductor Mark Fisher


Friday, May 17, at 7:30 p.m., at Woodstock Opera House, 121 Van Buren St., Woodstock

$30 A Seats | $25 B Seats

Sunday, May 19, at 2:30 p.m. at The Venue, 21 S. Broadway Ave., Aurora, IL

$25 or $15 for students

Monday, May 20, at 7:30 p.m. at First United Methodist Church, 216 E. Highland Ave., Elgin

$25 or $15 for students


Tuesday, May 21 to Tuesday, June 4 for $25

Chamber Music on the Fox

A 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, Chamber Music on the Fox is a world class chamber music series serving the Fox valley region with engaging, enriching, and immersive live performances.

Founded by bass trombonist Mark Fry and cellist Sara Sitzer in 2014, it introduces its audiences to renowned local, national, and international artists in intimate, informal settings where patrons have an opportunity to see and hear the artists up close and personal. Along with the subscription series that runs from October through May, Chamber Music on the Fox also offers three free family concerts each summer in partnership with Lords Park Zoo, as well as an annual celebration of the arts thanks to the support of Seigle Foundation. It relies on generous donations from individuals, sponsorships, grants, and ticket sales. To learn more or support the nonprofit, visit For updates, follow @ChamberMusicOnTheFox on Instagram and Facebook.

Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the "flag" link in the lower-right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.