Brass Act Quintet

Brass Act Quintet

Stephen Ruppenthal is a co-founder of Brass Act Quintet and co-Principal Trumpet for the Redwood Symphony. Stephen performs with many major ensembles throughout the Bay Area, and is also known for his electro-acoustic performance:  He was an original member of the Electric Weasel Ensemble, appearing with EWE and other groups in the USA and abroad, including President’s Breakfast at the New Music Festival.   Stephen recently helped form the new electro-acoustic music group SoundProof, which is recording a collection of new trumpet and electro-acoustic commissions composed by Larry Austin, Brian Belet, Elainie Lillios, Allen Strange, and Dan Wyman, set for release in 2015.

Photo credit: Belinda Carr

Jason Park is a San Francisco bay area freelance musician and music teacher who regularly performs with local regional opera and symphony orchestras, mixed chamber ensembles, musical pit orchestras, and contemporary music groups; he is also in demand for a variety of solo projects. An avid music educator, Jason is the trumpet instructor at Mount Tamalpais School and Myriad Music School.  He started his own private teaching studio in 1995, where to date he has helped over 100 trumpeters of all levels achieve their musical goals. Additionally, Jason is a professional chef and caterer in his spare time and enjoys traveling.

Diane Ryan, a native Californian and graduate of San Francisco State University, has been a freelance horn player in the Bay Area for many years.  Her horn teachers included Earl Saxton (San Francisco Symphony) and David Sprung (1st horn with San Francisco Opera).  Diane—also a co-founder of Brass Act—played regularly with TheatreWorks, West Bay Opera, Lyric Opera, and Foothill Musical Theatre. In addition, she has played for Woodminster Musical Theatre, Johnny Mathis, and the Stanford Jazz Workshop.  Diane is also a music contractor, and has hired musicians for such groups as TheatreWorks, Schola Cantorum, Stanford University, and the Oratorio Society.

Photo credit: Belinda Carr   

Don W. Howe has performed with every major orchestra in the Bay Area, including the San Francisco Symphony, Opera, and Ballet.  While still at Indiana University, he toured with Henry Mancini, Andy Williams, Johnny Mathis, The Carpenters, Sammy Davis Jr., and The Temptations.  Don writes regularly for brass ensembles of all sizes, and composed the Fanfare for California for the induction ceremonies to the California Hall of Fame in 2009.  In addition to arranging & composing, Don is a trailblazer in music education.  Over the past two decades, he discovered how musicians of any age or instrument can improve at a dramatically faster pace, and attain much higher levels of performance.  “How You Think is How You Play” is a seminar that teaches these concepts (see fastrackmusicseminars.com for more details). Don also serves as a mentor to inner-city music teachers through the Oakland East Bay Symphony’s MUSE program.  His personal mission is to throw a lifeline to the disadvantaged through music.

Michael Kuntz enjoyed a diverse musical upbringing, with Mom providing the classical music training, and Dad the Elvis records.  Michael studied computer science and music at the University of Illinois before moving to California, where he studied business and music at San Jose State University while playing tuba at Great America for several years.  He has also performed with Symphony Silicon Valley, the Churchill Street Jazz Band, the San Luis Obispo / Santa Cruz / Santa Rosa Symphonies, the San Francisco 49ers Band, and many other groups.  Michael is an accountant for Adobe Systems, continues to play bass in a rock band, and arranges music when time permits.