The Trombonist-Turned-Musicologist (No, this is Not a Joke): How Embracing my Past Defined my Future

We are excited today to share a guest post by Alyssa Wells about her path from playing trombone and baritone in bands to pursuing a PhD in Musicology. Thank you, Alyssa, for sharing your story!

Wells - Headshot.jpgAlyssa Wells is a Musicology PhD student and Rackham Merit Fellow at the University of Michigan. Her research interests include: labor union and industry bands, protest music, the politics of sound and space, and communist and socialist composers. Before coming to the University of Michigan, she completed master’s degrees at the University of Massachusetts Amherst in Musicology (M.M.) and German and Scandinavian Studies (M.A.). While at UMass, her research on Hanns Eisler and music festivals in the German Democratic Republic received funding from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). Alyssa also holds a B.A. in Music (trombone) and German Studies from Western Michigan University. In her free time, she enjoys running, cooking, telling terrible jokes, and making annoying puns.

If you would have told 19-year-old me that I am now just about halfway done with a PhD in musicology, I would have probably laughed…

Figure 1 – Alyssa, aged 19. Clearly enthused about musicology

…In fact, until the past year, musicology had never truly felt “natural” to me. The field was intriguing and inspiring enough to decide to devote my life to it, but what I studied simply did not furnish me with the same deep personal connection that I consistently witnessed my colleagues experiencing.  Continue reading

Making Statements: An Interview With Abbie Conant

We are thrilled to have been able to conduct an interview with the fabulous Abbie Conant. Abbie famously fought the Munich Philharmonic for 11 years in court to be solo trombone and now performs groundbreaking multidisciplinary works. She has been a pleasure to work with on this interview!

About Abbie Conant

abbie clearAward-winning Performance artist and Juilliard-trained trombonist Abbie Conant is somewhat of a legend in the international orchestral brass world. The story of her epic fight and ultimate victory against egregious gender discrimination in the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra, where she won the position for principal trombone at a screened audition in 1980, inspired author Malcolm Gladwell to write the NY Times Bestseller, Blink, where Ms. Conant’s story is detailed in the last chapter. The 11-year-long court battle was documented by composer/musicologist/activist, William Osborne, in an article entitled “You Sound Like a Ladies’ Orchestra.” The document is supported by actual court records and experiences in the orchestra with 89 footnotes. This source document has generated countless newspaper and magazine article (Der Spiegel, {the German analog to Time Magazine}, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, etc.) as well as a documentary film, (Abbie Conant, Alone Among Men by Brenda Parkerson), a play produced at the Landestheater Linz, Austria by Award-winning British playwright, Tamssin Oglesby called, Der (eingebildeter) Frauenfeind, (The [Concieted] Misogynist) and a screen play for a feature film in the works by Canadian writer/producer Dale Wolf.

After winning her lengthy court case, Ms. Conant won a full-tenured Professorship at the University of Music in Trossingen, Germany and left the orchestra in 1993. Abbie Conant has performed instrumental music theater works with surround sound electronics in over 150 different cities around the world. She has given masterclasses in as many esteemed music institution such as The Juilliard School, The Eastman School, New England Conservatory, Yale School of Music, Indiana University, Royal Northern College of Music, the Academy of Music and Drama in Gothenburg, Sweden, DePaul, CalArts, McGill, Oberlin and many others. In collaboration with composer/husband William Osborne, the pair has created a new genre of chamber music theater. They have produced five evening-length chamber operas for singing/acting trombonist.


1. Your story of battling sexism and discrimination in the orchestra world with the Munich Philharmonic is unbelievable, yet your strength and determination (and great playing of course!) paved the way for many discussions and policies on sexism in the brass world. Have your thoughts on that experience changed in any way? Especially in light of recent events in classical music and political culture with harassment and this kind of behavior being less tolerated in the public eye? Continue reading

Interview with Natalie Mannix

We are so excited to continue our September theme of celebrating inspiring teachers with our interview featuring trombonist and educator, Natalie Mannix. 

Natalie Mannix, principal trombonist of the Delaware Symphony, is an avid soloist, chamber musician, orchestral performer and educator. In fall of 2016 she began her current position as Assistant Professor of Trombone at the University of North Texas after teaching 8 years at Towson University in Baltimore. Previously, she was a member of the United States Navy Band in Washington, DC for over 9 years where she performed with the brass quintet, concert and ceremonial band.

She has appeared as guest artist and clinician at colleges and conferences throughout North America, including the 2016 and 2013 International Trombone Festival, the International Women’s Brass Conference, the Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic and the American Trombone Workshop. In addition to frequent performances with the Baltimore Symphony, Natalie has performed with the National Symphony Orchestra, the Washington Opera and Kennedy Center Orchestras, the Washington Trombone Ensemble, the Monarch Brass, Stiletto Brass and several regional orchestras and brass ensembles. A new music advocate, she has commissioned several works for trombone and continues to perform and promote music by emerging composers.  Continue reading

Kirsten Warfield To Be in Residence at Colorado State University 4/3/2017


Via the ITA:

Next Monday, April 3rd, Kirsten Warfield will hold a one-day residency at Colorado State University.
The first female to win a job in the “Pershing’s Own” United States Army Band, Warfield also plays in the band Black Masala and is the competitions coordinator for the American Trombone Workshop.

Her CSU residency will proceed as follows: Continue reading

CD release: Maureen Horgan – Moe’s Bit o’Blues


Via the IWBC:

Trombonist and IWBC Past-President, Maureen Horgan, is announcing the recent release of her recording Moe’s Bit o’ Blues. Ms. Horgan is currently Professor of Music in Low Brass at Georgia College and State University in Milledgeville, Georgia. The recording includes commissions and favorite works by composers Perry Goldstein, Douglas O’Grady, Jonathan Santore, Kenyon Wilson, Robert Suderberg and Richard Zarov. The diverse compositions presented are for a number of different instrumentations: trombone and piano, brass quintet, trombone quartet; trombone, flute and electronics; and trombone and electronics. Other performers on the recording include Scott Hartmann, Julie Josephson, Don Robinson, John McElroy, Bart Jones, David Saunders, Kenyon Wilson, Lisa Bartholow, and Connie Cheesebrough. The CD is available from Ms. Horgan’s web site at, Centaur Records ( or from other online stores (search for ‘Moe’s Bit o’ Blues).

The CDs available on Horgan’s  website include signed copies! The website also features sound clips of tracks from the new album, including Perry Goldstein’s spectacular Passage, for trombone quartet (2001).


Hanae Yoshida, Trombone and Cristina Cutts Dougherty, Tuba Perform at YoungArts 2017

A highlight of this year’s National YoungArts Week (January 8-15) was Hanae Yoshida and Cristina Cutts Dougherty’s dynamic performance of John Stevens’ Dialogues for Tuba and Trombone (1983):

These young women’s beautiful playing is evidence that the future of brass music is surely female!  Congratulations for Hanae and Cristina on your lovely performance.