• Brass Chamber Music Workshop since 1974


Week 1: July 16-22, 2023
Week 2: July 23-29, 2023

at Cal Poly Humboldt • Arcata, California USA

The information below is subject to change in 2023.

What is the Brass Chamber Music Workshop?

The Brass Chamber Music Workshop at Cal Poly Humboldt (BCMW) is for musicians of all ability levels to experience a one-of-a-kind opportunity to play chamber music for brass instruments. BCMW's unique workshop setting and extensive music library provide participants with the opportunity to play in a variety of ensembles, ranging from trios to dectets, with coaching by some of the finest brass players on the West Coast. Each evening the participants perform for each other in a casual and supportive environment. In addition, there are special-interest sessions on brass-related topics, and ample time for participants to put together groups of their own making for further ensemble playing. BCMW is known for its relaxed atmosphere and the camaraderie amongst its participants, and for its support for promoting the creation of new music.

What is the workshop philosophy?

From Floyd Glende, Professor of Music at Humboldt State University, 1966:

"The workshop has been dedicated to the promotion of chamber music. From its beginning, the staff had endeavored to create an atmosphere where each participant would be together with as many different players and participate in as many different combinations as time would permit. Further, to enjoy the vast amount of music that is available, participants have been encouraged to get acquainted with and perform the music of all periods and all composers.

If one is to be a true chamber music lover, one would be interested in listening to others perform. The workshop has afforded the player such an opportunity through its daily programs -- when the participants play for each other. Hearing each other not only increases one’s awareness of the literature but helps to satisfy a need felt by the performer. The staff has certainly recognized this need. The individual wants to be heard -- regardless of frequent and often strong nervous tension.

If one is to promote chamber music, the beginning and intermediate performer must be encouraged as well as the more advanced participant. The workshop purposely accepts players of various degrees of advancement. It is not the intent to have only the most advanced players participate.

Finally, one of the true rewards of chamber music participation is the creating of friendships and the developing of a person’s appreciation and understanding of others. Even though this particular means of musical expression is a personal thing, it is yet something that must be shared with others. It is this sharing -- the human element -- that gives much purpose to the activity."

Who are the staff and faculty for the workshop?

Our staff includes some of the finest brass players on the West Coast. They assist participants in broadening their chamber ensemble experience and share their knowledge in areas relevant to the brass world. 

How many players can participate in the workshop?

The maximum is 80 musicians each week (160 participants for both weeks). Many previous participants will return.

We will try to accommodate everyone to the best of our ability. We need to consider instrumental balance and experience level in order to assure a successful experience for all musicians.

The director is anticipating a shortage of horn players, so please encourage ALL your horn player friends to apply.

Are high schoolers welcome?

The Brass Chamber Workshop is limited to musicians who are over the age of 18.

Can I apply for both weeks?

You may choose to go one week or two weeks. Please indicate your preference on the application form. You may be asked to switch weeks. Please do not make travel arrangements until you receive confirmation of week selection.

How do I apply, and when do I pay the fees?

See the application page for details. We recommend that you apply early so that we may plan for staffing, instrumentation balance and housing/food service facilities.

After you complete the application, you will be directed to pay a $300 per week deposit. Payments will be accepted online only. Please do not mail your deposit payment. No one will be accepted into the workshop until their deposit is paid. Upon your acceptance into the workshop, you can pay the balance of the fee. If you are not accepted, your deposit will be refunded in full. Please refer to the application page or your acceptance email for the online payment link.

Are there scholarships available?

Work/study is available to help defray the cost of tuition. Please check the Work/Study Program option on your application to receive more information.

I have general questions, questions about my application, an issue with registration or this website. Who do I contact?

BCMW Administrative Lead: Dan Aldag
Phone: (707) 826-5447 or email dan.aldag@humboldt.edu

Questions about BCMW applications:

BCMW Programming Lead: Tony Clements
Phone: (408) 410-8193 or email ttuba@comcast.net.

Registration/payment information and website issues:

Cal Poly Humboldt
College of Extended Education & Global Engagement
1 Harpst St.
Arcata, CA 95521-8299
Phone: (707) 826-3731

How do I get there?

Cal Poly Humboldt is located in Arcata, California, 7 miles north of Eureka on California Highway 101. From Highway 101, take the Humboldt turn-off, head east towards the campus. At the stop sign, turn left on L. K. Wood Dr. Go right on Granite and you'll see the Jolly Giant Conference Center on your right. The Conference Center is on the second floor, right off the parking lot.

If you fly: Fly into the Eureka/Arcata airport (ACV), which is about 10 miles north of campus, in McKinleyville. There is no shuttle service. A cab may take 90 minutes or more to pick you up, and they can be expensive. It might be best if you use the carpool list to arrange for someone to come get you. Plan on a noontime arrival.

Can you describe the accommodations?

We stay in the university’s dormitories and eat all of our meals in the cafeteria. The rooms are typical college dorms, two single beds, two desks, two chest of drawers and two closets.

The conference center provides excellent meals with many choices for each meal; there are always choices for a vegetarian diet. Our meal plan runs Monday breakfast through Friday dinner.

You may request a roommate or, for an additional fee, a single room. You have to arrange this yourself. If you have questions about the on-campus accommodations, call [707] 826-5312.

Go to the housing portal.

How do I get checked into my room?

Upon arrival on campus, proceed to the Jolly Giant Conference Center, also known as the “J." There you will be assigned your room, and given your key, which will also be your meal card. The staff there will tell you where your room is. Normally, we stay in Sunset Hall, but sometimes we have been assigned to Redwood.

When should I arrive?

Check in at the Music Building (room 131) is any time after noon on Sunday. You’ll need to stop by there to let us know you are on campus, and to pick up an information packet. At that time, you can pay for a T-shirt and/or a group photo.

What about parking?

You will need to purchase a parking permit at the kiosk near the "J." The best place to park is next to the “J.” Unload your stuff at the dorm and the music building, then go park your car.

What else should I bring?

Housing provides linens, a pillow, a blanket, and a couple of towels. Typically, our participants will bring linens and a pillow from home, a reading lamp, and an extra towel. There are no hangers in the closets, so you might want to bring a few. There is free campus visitor wifi available. Bring a coffee mug. We serve coffee at all breaks and due to environmental concerns; we prefer not to use paper or Styrofoam products.

Sample Checklist:

  • pillow
  • blanket
  • instruments
  • sweatshirt
  • towel
  • mutes
  • personal items
  • music
  • reading lamp
  • Hawaiian shirt
  • coffee mug
  • reading glasses
  • camera
  • hangers

What instruments should I bring, and where can I store them?

Many of the trumpeters bring ALL of their horns; Bb, C, D/Eb, picc, cornet and a flügel, but usually a Bb and a C will do. If you don’t have a C, that’s okay. You won’t have to transpose. Some trombone players bring a couple horns, in addition to a tuba or a euphonium. Euphers usually only play euph, but some of them will bring along a trombone to play in a trombone ensemble. Tubists bring a low horn (BBb or CC), many of them bring along an F. I tell people to bring what they want to play. If there is any question on this, call me and we’ll talk about equipment.

There are lockers in the music building where you may store your instruments; there is no charge for this. You need to get a locker between 3 and 5 p.m. or 6 and 8 p.m. on Sunday, the day of your arrival.

What brass music libraries are available? What pieces are in the libraries?

The workshop has access to three music libraries. You can download a list of titles for each at the links below. You will need Adobe Reader or similar application to open/print these PDF files.

What do I wear?

The workshop is very casual. Jeans and t-shirt is the standard attire, even for the concerts. Thursday is Hawaiian shirt day.

May I bring my spouse?

You will be busy from 9 a.m. until after the program, which starts at 7 p.m., and usually goes about 90 minutes. After the program, most of the participants choose to freelance, many of them playing until after midnight. While the North Coast of California is beautiful, your spouse will have to find something to do all day, for five days, thus bringing spouses is not encouraged. Having stated that, one of our long attending members always brings his wife.

What does the daily schedule look like?

Everyday, you are assigned a chamber ensemble, music and a coach. You will rehearse from 9-11:45 a.m. (with breaks). Lunch is noon-1 p.m. There is special master class type sessions each day at 1 p.m. The ensemble meets again and rehearses from 2:15-4 p.m. (with a break). Dinner is served at 5 p.m. The program starts at 7 p.m. Freelancing is done after the program. The next day, you are assigned a different ensemble, different music, and a different coach. Wednesday is the short day. You rehearse in the morning. The special session is at 1 p.m., and the program is at 2:15 p.m. That night is a free night. We have gone to local independent league baseball games, and there are several wonderful restaurants nearby. Some people spend the evening at the beach.

What about practice facilities?

Practicing is not permitted in the dorms. The music building is normally open at 7 a.m. and stays open until midnight. You may practice in any available room, providing a chamber ensemble is not using it for freelancing. Practicing is not permitted in the dorms. Got that?

Is there cell phone service?

In Arcata, the cell phone service is spotty. Between the dorms in the quad, and in front of the fountain next to the music building there is good service. Please plan on turning your phone OFF during all rehearsals and performances.

Can I stay an extra day and freelance with the friends I missed?

Freelancing at the workshop (from noon Sunday through the following Friday of each week) is limited to registered attendees of that week’s workshop.