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Spanish Brass

Spanish Brass Members

Carlos Benetó and Juanjo Serna Trumpets
Manuel Pérez French Horn
Inda Bonet Trombone
Sergio Finca Tuba


Spanish Brass (a)LIVE
Sheep May Safely Graze, from Cantata BWV 208

Johann Sebastian Bach
(arr. Calos Benetó)

Carmen Miniature

George Bizet
(arr. Thierry Caens) 

Dance Suite
Dancisa for Anthony
Waltz for Agnes
Bi-Tango for Mischa
Two-step for Mr. B
MTV For Jerry

Leonard Bernstein

Chaplin Suite

Charles Chaplin
(arr. T. Caens)

La Boda de Luis Alonso

Gerónimo Giménez
(arr. F. Zacarés)


Asturias Isaac Albéniz
(arr. Maxi Santos)
nana Manuel de Falla
(arr. C. Benetó)
Farruca (el sombrero de tres picos) Manuel de Falla
(arr. Pascual Llorens)
oblivion Astor Piazzolla
(arr. T. Caens)
libertango Astor Piazzolla
(arr. T. Caens)
Bulería pa Spanish Brass Trad.
(arr. Adam Rapa)
the sidewinder Lee Morgan
(arr. Jesús Santandreu)

Spanish Brass appears by arrangement with Lisa Sapinkopf Artists, www.chambermuse.com

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Spanish Brass Background

With a thirty-two year trajectory in the world of chamber music, SPANISH BRASS (www.spanishbrass.com) is one of the most dynamic and sought-after brass groups on the international musical stage.

Founded in 1989 by five Spanish musicians as an innovative project that quickly gained world renown for performances, educational activities and creative collaborations, Spanish Brass won the First Prize in the 1996 Narbonne (France) International Brass Quintet Competition, the most prestigious event of its kind in the world. Trumpeter Bernard Soustrot said, “Of all the First Prize winners of the Narbonne Competition, the Spanish Brass is the best since the competition was founded in 1986.” In 2017 the group received the I Bankia Music Talent Award in Spain, for the most influential musical artists, and in 2019 they received the Espai Ter de Música Award. They have also been honored with three Carles Santos Awards for their CDs XXX and Mira si hem corregut terres… (2019) and Les Aventures de Monsieur Jules (2020). In 2020 they received the Spanish National Music Award.

SPANISH BRASS has given hundreds of concerts across the globe, in such prestigious events and venues as the Great American Brass Band Festival; the New York Brass Conference; the Juilliard School of Music, the National Gallery in Washington, DC; Festival de Musique de Radio-France; Granada International Festival; Lucerne Festival; Cheju Summer Festival (Korea); Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival (Germany); National Auditorium (Madrid); Palau de la Música (Barcelona); Kalavrita Festival (Greece); International Horn Society, Merano Brass Festival and Trento Philharmonic (Italy); Barcelona Auditorium; Festival de Inverno de Brasília, and countless others.        

SPANISH BRASS has been in the forefront of international music education, giving courses and master-classes with the Spanish National Youth Orchestra. the Youth Orchestras of Catalonia, Valencia, Andalucía and Madrid, the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts, Trumpet Lounge (Japan), the Showa School for Performing Arts (Japan), Lieksa Brass Week (Finland), the Eastman School of Music, University of Georgia, Venezuelan Youth Orchestra, Dartington International Summer School (England), International Winter Music Festival of Brasilia (Brazil), Ibero-American Cultural Festival (Puerto Rico), etc. SPANISH BRASS also runs two major brass festivals in Spain: the SBALZ Festival in Alzira (www.sbalz.com) and Brassurround (www.brassurround.com). They currently teach at the Berklee College of Music campus in Valencia and at the Universidad Europea in Madrid.      

A sampling of their international accolades includes: “They are one of the world´s finest brass quintets ranking up there with Empire Brass, Canadian Brass and American Brass” (Greg Alley); “One of the most exciting and artistic brass quintets to come on the scene in recent years … a gloriously brilliant performance” (International Trumpet Guild Journal); “They play with amazing cohesion, and set the highest standard for brass chamber music” (Maurice André, trumpeter); and “I cannot think of a better brass quintet in the whole world” (Christian Lindberg, trombonist).

They have recorded 29 CDs, including the double CD "The Best of Spanish Brass," a disc of Christmas music, and "Puro de Oliva," with flamenco-jazz pianist Chano Domínguez.

Individual Bios

Carlos Benetó

Born in Castelló, Valencia in 1969, Carlos began his musical training at the Lira Castellonense Music Society's Music School in Vilanova de Castelló, Valencia. He graduated from Madrid's Royal Conservatory of Music, where he studied with José María Ortí.      

In 1988 he joined the Gran Canaria Philharmonic Orchestra as well as the Spanish National Youth Orchestra, of which he was a member until 1992. He was trumpet player of the City of Granada Orchestra as well as being one of its founding members.    

A founding member of SPANISH BRASS, Carlos enjoys cooking, reading  and watching movies with his family. He has an 18-year-old son.

Juanjo Serna

Juanjo was born in Albuixec, Valencia in 1970. He trained with José Ortí at Madrid's Royal Advanced Music Conservatory, where he received the advanced level Honor Award. He regularly performs with such symphony ensembles as the Spanish National Orchestra, the Spanish Radio and Television Orchestra, the Madrid Symphony Orchestra, and the Euskadi (Basque), Canarias and Cadaqués Symphony Orchestras. He was Principal Trumpet of the City of Granada Orchestra.        

A founding member of SPANISH BRASS, Juanjo loves football, especially the matches of the Levante Team. He also likes to listen to salsa and jazz, and is a specialist in jazz music. He has a 15-year-old son.

Inda Bonet

Born in Vila-real, Castellón in 1971, Inda began his musical training with his father. He continued his training at the Valencia Advanced Music Conservatory, where he won the Honor Awards at the elementary, intermediate and advanced levels Conservatory. He then went to study in Paris at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique, where he won First Prize. Inda was Principal Trombone of the Spanish National Orchestra from 1993 to 1998. He sat on the juries of the International Chamber Music Competition of Lyon, France in 2005 and the Philip Jones de Guebwiller International Competition, also in France, in both 2005 and 2007.           

A founding member of SPANISH BRASS, Inda lives in the mountains with his wife and his three children, ages 18, 13 and 8, and various animals.

Manuel Pérez

Manolo was born in 1971 and began his musical studies at the age of eight at school in his home town of Guadassuar, Valencia. His studies were concluded at the Joaquin Rodrigo Higher Conservatory of Music in Valencia under the tutelage of Joaquin Vidal, Encara Grau and Jose Rosell, where he was awarded the Prize of Honor at the completion of his studies. From 1990 to 1993 he perfected his technique under Daniel Bourgue at the Conservatoire National de Région in Versailles (France), where he won the First Prize and Gold Medal. Manolo was a member of the Spanish National Youth Orchestra and performed with the City of Granada Orchestra, Gran Canaria Philharmonic Orchestra, Madrid Symphony Orchestra, National Orchestra of Spain, among others. From 1989 to 1998 he taught at the professional conservatories of Cáceres, Gijón and Albacete.

A founding member of SPANISH BRASS, Manolo has two sons, ages 13 and 10.

Sergio Finca

Born in 1979, Sergio comes from Pola de Siero, a small town in northern Spain. He began his musical studies at the age of eleven and later studied at the Conservatory of Music in Oviedo, Spain and in France at the Conservatoire National de Région in Perpignan and Bordeaux, where he was awarded the city’s Medal of Honor. He earned the Superior Diploma from the National Higher Music Conservatory in Lyon with a mention "Très Bien a l'Unanimité" in a competition between that school and the Paris Conservatory.

Sergio won First Prize at the Brno (Czech Republic) Competition and the Young Performers Competition of Spain. He was also a prize winner at the International Competition of Sydney, Australia. His outstanding performance at the National Auditorium in Madrid was broadcast on Spanish TV. He has taught in France and given masterclasses across Europe.

Sergio often plays with major orchestras in Spain and France. He was Principal Tuba of the Lyon National Opera Orchestra and has worked under such conductors as Zubin Mehta, James Levine, Bernard Haitink, Yuri Temirkanov, Jesús López Cobos, Paavo Jarvi and Ivan Fischer.     

The youngest (and newest) member of SPANISH BRASS, Sergio joined the group in 2006. He is a gourmet and enjoys fine dining and gardening. Sergio has a 4-year-old son.

Program Notes


One of the towering geniuses in the history of the arts, Bach produced a phenomenal amount of great music throughout his life. Wagner called him “nothing less than the most stupendous miracle in all music." Bach can evoke the full range of emotions, and crystallize them in structural forms as intricate as their spiritual content is profound.

The aria Sheep may safely graze, originally written for soprano, 2 flutes and continuo, is the best known section of the cantata Was mir behagt, ist nur die muntre Jagd (The lively hunt is all my heart's desire). It is sung by the character Pales, a goddess of crops, pastures and livestock.

Spanish Brass member Carlos Benetó, who made this arrangement for the group, says he was inspired by pianist Khatia Buniatishvili's performance of an arrangement by Egon Petri.

Like Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring, Sheep may safely graze is frequently played at weddings. However, the cantata of which it forms a part was originally written for a birthday celebration, that of Christian, Duke of Saxe-Weissenfels. Bach is known to have used the music again for other celebrations, but it remained unpublished until after his death.


The plot of the opera Carmen tells of a beautiful Gypsy girl, Carmen, who seduces the soldier Don José, stealing him away from his fiancée Micaëla. Don José is besotted by the beguiling Gypsy and, pledging his love, deserts the army to be with her. Carmen’s love is more fickle, and she soon tires of him, transferring her attentions to the famed bullfighter Escamillo. On the day of the bullfight Don José begs Carmen to come back to him. When she refuses, he stabs her in the heart, and while the crowds cheer the Escamillo's victory in the ring, Carmen dies.

The plot’s perceived immorality and exploration of sexual desire met with fierce disapproval from critics and audiences alike at its premiere in Paris. This may seem hard to believe given the affection with which Bizet’s opera is now regarded. Despite encouragement and praise from both Saint-Saëns and Massenet, Bizet lamented his “definite and hopeless flop” and quickly fell ill. Tragically, he was never to see the eventual triumph of his opera; three months after its disastrous premiere, he died of a heart attack.

Tchaikovsky rightly predicted Carmen’s meteoric rise, writing, “I am convinced that in ten years time, Carmen will be the most popular opera in the world.”

Carmen Miniature is a wonderful arrangement by Thierry Caens, in which he takes us on a tour through the opera's main themes.


Composed mostly in late 1989, Dance Suite was Bernstein's last work. It was premiered as part of the 50th Anniversary Gala of American Ballet Theater at the Metropolitan Opera House, New York City, on January 14, 1990. This light-hearted divertissement was not danced, however, even though that was the original intention. A choreographer began work on it, but apparently felt that the movements were too short for danceable development. It was presented instead on stage, in front of the traveller curtain, as an independent instrumental work. The performers were the Empire Brass Quintet, to whom the Suite is dedicated "with affection."

Each movement is dedicated to a choregrapher-friend: Antony Tudor, Agnes DeMille, Mikhail Baryshnikov, George Balenchine and Jerome Robbins. More than a piéce d'occasion, there are other layers of meaning in the work since each movement had its origin in other formats. These are mostly anniversary pieces composed for family and friends.

I. Dancisca, for Antony (Antony Tudor)

The portmanteau word "Dancisca" is the title for what was originally a piano piece. Written for the composer's granddaughter, Francisca Anne Maria Thomas, "For my Rhymy Girl, with thanxgiving and love, Tata."

II. Waltz, for Agnes (Agnes de Mille)

The ironic Waltz, which sometimes is in 3/4 time (alternating with common time) has wry overtones. It was conceived as "The NEA Forever March," after the composer refused the National Medal of Arts from President Bush. A grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to Artists Space, a nonprofit gallery in New York City, had been revoked because of its AIDS exhibit, "Witnesses: Against Our Vanishing." This was unacceptable to Mr. Bernstein, whose lyrics for the March were:

Everyone got a medal but Bernstein,
The President gave twelve medals,
Not to Bernstein.
Well, actually there showed up only ten to toast,
'Cause one of the dozen couldn't make it,
And the other was just a ghost.
But ten out of twelve is better than most,
And the President was a very lovely host.
So everyone had a great time but Bernstein.
The Lord be praised!

III. Bi-Tango, for Mischa (Mikhail Baryshnikov)

The bi-tonal Bi-Tango is based on a "Birthday Serenata" composed for a violinist friend, Paul Woodiel, with words in Spanglish for "Señorito Pablito."

IV. Two-Step, for Mr. B (George Balanchine)

The Two-Step was at first "A Spiky Song," written for the composer's grandson, Evan Samuel Thomas: "Two weeks old, from his loving Granddaddy, 28 Oct. '89." ("Spike" was the name given to Evan prior to his birth by his father, David Thomas.) Its words include:

Hooray, ni-hao, Little Spike.
So glad, thank God,
Didn't call you Mike(ae)l, Stephen, Paul,...
Hip, hip, loud cheers, little tyke.
Welcome, warning:
Livin' ain't a bike ride,...
Hooray. Thank heaven for Evan.

V. MTV, for Jerry (Jerome Robbins)

MTV is in part a tribute to the ubiquitous Music Television. The middle section was also a song, written for the mother of the Bernstein grandchildren, Jamie Bernstein Thomas: "7.II.86, for Jamie, to be continued... Love, LB." This one was inspired (if that is the appropriate word) when Mr. Bernstein watched an episode of "Miami Vice" on TV. The composer's lyrics for it were loosely based on actual dialogue. The words are found partly in the manuscript, and have been in part recalled by a family friend, the conductor Michael Barrett, as:

He said: You wash my back and I'll wash yours.
With the baby lyin' in a shoe-bag on the floor
So she stabbed that rapist crime for crime.
He was a small-time stand-up comic anyway,
Very small-time.
Now ain't that nice?
Miami Vice.

—Note by Jack Gottlieb


In this medley, the French trumpet player and arranger Thierry Caens used the following music from films by Charlie Chaplin: "Titine" and "Smile" from Modern Times, "The Flower Girl" from City Lights; "Deux petits chaussons" (Two little slippers) from Limelight; and "Ballet of the Bread Rolls" from The Gold Rush.


Édith Piaf (1915-1963) was a French singer who became an icon in France during World War II and is still considered one of the country's cultural treasures. Piaf Forever is a medley of some of her most famous songs: La Vie en rose; La Foule; Les Amants d'un jour; Hymne à l'amour; Non, je ne regrette rien; Padam Padam; and Mon manège à moi.


Gerónimo Giménez was a child prodigy violinist who went on to become a leading composer and conductor. He took a special interest in the zarzuela, a form of Spanish opera, and as such his music is noticeably influenced by Spanish folk songs and dances.

Giménez wrote La Boda de Luis Alonso (Luis Alonso's Wedding) as a sequel to his previous zarzuela, El baile de Luis Alonso. Both are about the celebrated Spanish dancer and teacher, Luis Alonso. They are among Gimenez's most famous compositions (and among Spain’s most popular zarzuelas).


Born in Camprodon, Catalunya, Albéniz was a child prodigy who first performed at the age of four. At age seven he passed the entrance examination for piano at the Paris Conservatoire, but was refused admission because he took out a ball from his pocket and broke a glass window while playing with it.

At twelve, he stowed away on a ship to South America and began a life of touring and performing in Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, Cuba, Puerto Rico, and eventually the United States, where he appeared in a vaudeville act playing piano behind his back. He finally settled in Paris, where he became close friends with the major impressionist composers.

Asturias is the 5th movement of Suite Española. It is most famous these days as a classical guitar piece, even though it was originally composed for piano.


Manuel de Falla was the most distinguished Spanish composer of the early 20th century. His music achieved a fusion of poetry, asceticism, and ardor that represents the spirit of Spain at its purest.

Nana is a lullaby from the Siete canciones populares españolas ("Seven Spanish Folksongs"), a set of traditional Spanish songs originally composed in 1914 for soprano and piano. It is Falla's most-arranged composition, and one of his most popular.

Farruca, or The Miller's Dance, is from The Three-Cornered Hat, originally written for a ballet. The story breathes the warm atmosphere of Andalusia, and tells of a miller and his beautiful young wife, their flirtations and intrigues, and the trickery that ensues when the couple is visited one day by the magistrate (whose three-cornered hat symbolizes his authority). The magistrate quickly develops an eye for the beautiful young wife. He orders the miller arrested to clear his own path to the wife, but his flirtation ends in humiliation when he falls into a stream. The magistrate lays out his clothes to dry, and the returning miller discovers them and puts them on, then sets out in pursuit of the magistrate’s wife. It all ends happily: the police rush in and accidentally arrest their own magistrate, the miller and his wife swear their mutual devotion, and the ballet concludes as the happy townspeople toss an effigy of the magistrate in a blanket.


Astor Piazzolla was without question Argentina's greatest cultural export, both as a composer and as an unprecedented virtuoso on his chosen instrument, the bandoneon—a large button accordion that is a common folk instrument in Latin American countries. Most notably, he single-handedly took the tango, an earthy, sensual, often disreputable folk music that he enjoyed as a child, and elevated it into a sophisticated form of high art.

Oblivion, from a score Piazzolla composed for a film version of Pirandello’s play Enrico IV,  is a haunting piece that exudes isolation and impassioned eloquence in a most gripping way.

Libertango, composed in 1974, is one of Piazzolla's greatest hits. The previous year, Piazzolla moved to Italy, and his European agent pressured him to compose “airplay-friendly” pieces. The title is a portmanteau of the words “libertad” ("freedom," in Spanish) and “tango,” and represents his break from classical tango.

Trad./Adam Rapa

Adam Rapa is an American trumpet-player who has shared the stage with several Grammy-winners and performed in more than 2000 shows across North America, Japan and the UK

The Bulería is one of the most complex flamenco dance styles, bustling and cheerful, characterised by a fast rhythm and a redoubled beat. Rapa does not know the exact origins of this bulería, or where he heard it, but he wanted to transcribe it for his great friends, Spanish Brass.


The Philadelphia-born trumpeter and superb bop stylist Lee Morgan apprenticed with Dizzy Gillespie and Art Blakey before emerging as a leader in his own right in the early '60s for Blue Note Records. Although Morgan owed a stylistic debt to both Gillespie and Clifford Brown, he quickly developed a voice of his own that combined half-valve effects, Latin inflections, and full, fluid melodies.

The Sidewinder, Lee Morgan's 24-bar blues with an infectious bass line and backbeat, instantly became one of the most popular pieces in modern jazz history.

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