Women of Brass: Mary Elizabeth Bowden on Founding the All-Female Seraph Brass

Mar 3, 2017

“How cool would it be to have an all-female brass group that’s touring? And imagine young musicians seeing that on the stage.”

That’s the question that inspired trumpeter Mary Elizabeth Bowden to start the all-women’s brass ensemble Seraph Brass.

Bowden and Seraph Brass hornist and co-founder Katy Ambrose formed Seraph Brass in summer 2014. Since then, the group has performed all over the U.S., and has sparked a lively in-school outreach program, as well as a program to commission new brass works by women composers.

All of this is big news when you consider that professional brass-instrument playing has long been a heavily male-dominated field.

When Bowden and her peers were aspiring young musicians, “We went to go see Dallas Brass and Canadian (Brass),” Bowden says, “and all these great brass groups that were 100 percent male.”

Recently, I had a chance to speak with Bowden about her work founding Seraph Brass. Listen to our interview, above, to learn about some of the comments Seraph Brass has received from members of their audiences, Bowden’s vision for the group and her take on the climate of the male-dominated world of professional brass-instrument playing.

Be sure to listen to The American Sound at 6 p.m. Saturday, March 4 and 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 7 to hear selections from Seraph Brass' debut album. And check out the ensemble's fabulous performance of Franz Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2:

Throughout the month of March, Classical 101 celebrates National Women’s History Month with Women of Brass, a series exploring all-female brass ensembles and the work of their pioneering founders. Listen to The American Sound at 6 p.m. Saturdays and 7 p.m. Tuesdays to hear performances by some of today’s most enterprising women’s brass groups.