Founded in 2021, Calypsus Brass is a professional chamber ensemble performing new works recitals, creating high-level professional recordings for composers, and working with chamber musicians at all levels. The five founding members are avid performers and educators touring around the world, giving masterclasses and recitals.


Calypsus Brass is a groundbreaking musical group founded by five women who earned a doctoral degree in music, the first of its kind. Between them, members hold 5 doctorates, a total of 14 degrees, 3 minors, and 4 advanced certificates in cognates such as pedagogy and jazz improvisation. Calypsus Brass serves as a recording ensemble for composers whose works have never been recorded. Founded in 2021, Calypsus members perform at the highest level of excellence in musical performance and education.


Calypsus Brass is committed to prioritizing recording and performing works of historically marginalized composers to uplift the highest quality of music. To further this mission, Calypsus Brass is proud to be the Ensemble in Residence for Rising Tide Music Press, an organization that publishes and promotes BBIA (Black, Brown, Indigenous, and Asian) musicians in their 10 years of professional-level work as composers and arrangers.


Because professional recordings can be cost-prohibitive for composers and many composition competitions and calls for scores require recording with real instruments for consideration, Calypsus Brass is committed to recording works by emerging artists. We encourage all musicians to program music by a diverse array of composers so that the music we perform is inclusive of the community we serve as artists. Calypsus is proud to lead by example in this mission with recording and commissioning projects. When premiering and recording works, Calypsus Brass creates a relationship with composers, helping to build their portfolios with recordings that the composers are proud to showcase while providing expert advice and coaching regarding idiomatic writing for brass instruments.


As devoted educators, Calypsus members bring a robust pedagogical background to each masterclass and outreach event. Combining 80 years of educational experience, Calypsus Brass presents specialized masterclasses and clinics on topics including: chamber music, classical, orchestra, and jazz performance, wellness, audition preparation, military and orchestral careers, performance anxiety and psychology, music career development, marketing and branding, arts administration and nonprofit management, commissioning, audio engineering, and intersectionality in the music community.



MEMBERS

DR. CARRIE BLOSSER

Dr. Carrie Blosser is a trumpet performer and educator in Chicago. She is the founder of Diversify the Stand, a resource promoting diversity through commissioning, crowdfunding, weekly podcast, book club, and publishing. Serves as the co-chair and founding member of the Diversity and Inclusion Committee with the International Trumpet Guild (ITG) she is also an active member of the International Women’s Brass Conference (IWBC). Carrie is the coordinator of Brass Flexibilities, an IWBC article and video interview series, an invited mentor for IWBC’s Mentorship Program, and editor for the IWBC newsletter.

Dr. Blosser is a clinician for the International Trumpet Guild and judges for both ITG and the National Trumpet Competition. She teaches private trumpet students of all ages and gives master classes, lectures, and performances across the country. She maintained a Colorado-based studio of 65 students while collaborating with multiple schools to deliver weekly clinics and also conducted the Rocky Mountain Concert Band for three years. Dr. Blosser was the Director of Bands at Cooper, Junior and Senior High School in Cooper, Texas. Her students’ achievements include selection to All-State Bands and advancement to the semi-finals of the National Trumpet Competition as Soloists and Ensemble Performers.


DR. JACQUELYN LANKFORD

Jacquelyn Lankford is the Assistant Professor of Trumpet and Jazz Band Director at McNeese State University, acting principal and second trumpet with the Monroe Symphony Orchestra, and third trumpet in the Lake Charles Symphony Orchestra. She earned her Doctorate in Trumpet Performance with a related field in Music Education from the University of North Texas in 2019, Master’s in Trumpet Performance and Literature from the Eastman School of Music in 2016, and Bachelor’s in Music Education from New Mexico State University in 2014.

She is the creator and founder of the Women Composing for Trumpet Competition, which was made possible by her award of the Juliet Hardtner Women in Arts and Humanities Professorship in 2019. The Women Composing for Trumpet Competition was created to add to the list of "standard" trumpet repertoire composed by women. Though there are many incredible compositions by women for solo trumpet, the only one that is considered "standard" by the trumpet community is the Pakhmutova, written in 1955. It is the goal of this competition to bring light to this matter, as well as give modern women composers the opportunity to contribute to this list of "standards" and be recognized for their accomplishments.


Jacquelyn is also a founding member of Calypsus Brass, a chamber ensemble that creates high-quality, professional recordings for composers. Calypsus specifically focuses on performing and recording works by living composers of color, marginalized genders, and the LGBTQIA+ community.


As a soloist, Jacquelyn was invited to Rouen, France to compete in the Eric Aubier International Trumpet Competition where she was one of only two United States competitors in 2017.


Ensembles she has performed with include the Monroe Symphony Orchestra, Lake Charles Symphony Orchestra, The Rory Partin Big Band, The Temptations, Las Cruces Symphony Orchestra, Richardson Symphony Orchestra, Eastman Wind Ensemble, UNT Symphony Orchestra, and UNT Wind Symphony.

DR. JESSICA PEARCE

Jessica is thrilled to be full-time Instructor of Horn at Eastern Illinois University. In addition to teaching at Eastern Illinois, she performs with the EIU Faculty Brass Quintet and EIU Faculty Wind Quintet. She was Adjunct Instructor of Horn at Illinois Wesleyan University, her alma mater, from 2016-2019.


In 2018 Jessica completed a Doctorate of Musical Arts in Horn Performance and Literature at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. During this degree she studied horn with Bernhard Scully and also studied jazz improvisation with Jim Pugh. Prior to working on her doctorate, Jessica worked as a freelancer and private teacher in the Chicago area from 2011-2015.


Jessica plays Assistant Principal and Utility Horn with the Illinois Symphony Orchestra and Second Horn with the Champaign-Urbana Symphony. She has also performed with the Quad City Symphony, Peoria Symphony, Chicago Jazz Philharmonic, the Gil Evans Project, Chicago Philharmonic Orchestra, the Elgin Symphony Orchestra, Camerata Chicago, the Southwest Michigan Symphony, da Corneto Opera Company, Millikin-Decatur Symphony, and the Chicago Jazz Orchestra.

Primary Teachers:

  • University of Illinois: Bernhard Scully

  • University of Michigan: Adam Unsworth and Bryan Kennedy

  • Illinois Wesleyan University: Christine Janicki

  • Neil Kimel of the Lyric Opera of Chicago

  • David Griffin of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra


Education

D.M.A. University of Illinois, 2018

M.M. University of Michigan, 2011

B.M. Illinois Wesleyan University, 2009

Dr. Lauren Rudzinskas

Dr. Lauren Rudzinskas is the General Manager of the International Women’s Brass Conference and a founding member of Calypsus Brass, a a professional chamber ensemble performing new works, giving masterclasses, and creating high-level professional recordings for underrepresented composers. In addition, Rudzinskas is the Executive Director and Founder of the Virtual Trombone Workshop and VTW@ESM 2021. She was the part time professor of trombone and euphonium at Mansfield University in Pennsylvania until Fall 2020. Dr. Rudzinskas earned a doctorate of musical arts in Trombone Performance and Literature with a minor in Pedagogy and an Advanced Certificate in College Teaching at the Eastman School of Music where she also earned a Performer's Certificate and was nominated for the prestigious Artist's Diploma. An advocate for diversity and inclusion initiatives, Rudzinskas serves on the advisory board for the Chromatic Brass Collective and the Future in Music Program. Lauren was recently a finalist for the Assistant Professor of Trombone and Euphonium position at the University of Denver and Professor of Trombone at SUNY Potsdam. Rudzinskas is a member of the Athena Brass Band, regular substitute in Symphoria (formerly the Syracuse Symphony), and was invited to perform as a member of the inaugural International Women’s Trombone Choir at the 2021 International Trombone Festival where she also gave two presentations on recruitment and arts management.

As a strong advocate for music education, Rudzinskas was the 2016 recipient for the Jack L. Frank Award for Excellence in Teaching and the 2016 Frank Faculty Development Research Grant. She taught tenor trombone, bass trombone, and euphonium at the Eastman Community Music School. She has published articles, written two pedagogical books, received grants, and released a CD. Rudzinskas recently gave a co-presentation on diverse chamber music featuring her arrangements at the New York State School Music Association Conference and was invited to present again on adaptable teaching in 2021. She has given masterclasses at Drake University, Hamilton College, Youngstown State University, Ithaca College, and others.


At Eastman, Lauren served as the departmental assistant for the trombone studio and a teaching assistant for Eastman and the University of Rochester. She has served as Assistant Director for the ECMS Trombone Choir and was a finalist for Eastman’s Teaching Assistant Prize and Lecture Recital Prize. Rudzinskas earned her Master’s degree in Trombone Performance and Literature from the Eastman School of Music studying with Larry Zalkind. Rudzinskas served as teaching assistant for the Eastman trombone choir, trombone studio, and as an Eastman Institute for Music Leadership Assistant. She earned her bachelor’s degree in jazz performance from Youngstown State University, where she was selected for the Dean’s Award in the College of Creative Arts and Communication as well as the university-wide Senior Academic Award for Outstanding Student Scholarship. Recent competition awards include third place in the 2017 International Women’s Brass Conference solo competition, 2015 Youngstown Music Teachers Association Solo Competition, the 2015 Wright State Festival Solo Competition, the 2014 Dana Young Artist Competition, first trombone placement in the JECO Intercollegiate Jazz Ensemble, and the Dorothy Schwers Honorary Scholarship Solo Competition.


Lauren’s performance credits include playing with IWBC’s Holiday Brass and the Diva Jazz Orchestra in the Cleveland Playhouse production of Maurice Hines is Tappin’ Thru Life. She is a member of the SPH Jazz Orchestra and will appear on the August 2021 tour and CD recording of "Smash!". Lauren has held positions as principal trombonist with the Greenville Symphony Orchestra, Rochester Women’s Philharmonic, and Youngstown Scoring Stage, and performed as lead trombonist in the First Class Big Band. Lauren has performed in master classes with Joseph Alessi, William VerMeulen, Eric Ewazen, David Murray, Rebecca Cherian, Shachar Israel, Nico and Martin Schippers, Bruce Saunders, Dan Wilson, and Jim Snidero. After receiving a research grant from Youngstown State University, Lauren produced and performed in Aspire, a recording of original music including several of her own compositions. She has also premiered and commissioned numerous works and is sponsored by music software company, Blackbinder. Dr. Rudzinskas' primary teachers include Larry Zalkind, Mark Kellogg, Michael Crist, John Olsson, Sam Blakeslee, and Jeff Bush.

DR. STEPHANIE YCAZA

Stephanie Ycaza is the Instructor of Tuba and Euphonium at the University of Northern Iowa, where she teaches applied lessons, Low Brass Techniques, Music Theory, and conducts the UNITUBA ensemble. She has served as adjunct instructor of low brass at Virginia Commonwealth University, Virginia State University, Longwood University, and the University of Richmond. She also taught courses in music theory, aural skills, and world music at VCU, Longwood, and Shenandoah University. Stephanie is a faculty member at Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp, where she teaches tuba and music theory. Stephanie also regularly serves as a clinician for middle and high school bands.

Stephanie is an active orchestral and band performer, and has appeared with the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Symphony, the Virginia Symphony, the Williamsburg Symphony, the Capital Wind Symphony, and the Virginia Grand Military band. She performs with chamber groups and large brass ensembles, including the James River Brass, Cathedral Brass, and Annandale Brass. She has also contributed to recording projects at Spacebomb Records in Richmond, VA. Stephanie’s recent solo performances have focused on Latin American music, music by women composers, and her own transcriptions and arrangements for low brass. She appeared as a soloist at the 2021 Virtual ITEA Conference and the Northeast Regional ITEA Conference. Stephanie has researched and written on the topic of mindfulness in the practice and performance of music. She has presented on this topic for college studios around the U.S. and at the Army Band Tuba-Euphonium Workshop.

Stephanie holds a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from Shenandoah University, a Master of Music degree and Artist Diploma from Yale University, and a Bachelor of Music degree from Virginia Commonwealth University. She studied with Dr. Ross Walter, Toby Hanks, Mike Roylance, Andrew Hitz, and Michael Bunn.

PARTNERSHIPS

Ensemble in Residence

Calypsus Brass is proud to be the brass ensemble in residence for Rising Tide Music Press. Rising Tide publishes print works by BBIA (Black, Brown, Indigenous, and Asian) musicians in their first 10 years of professional-level work as composers and arrangers.

COMPOSERS

Calypsus Brass is proud to support the composers listed below whose works we have recorded or commissioned. We look forward to greatly expanding this list and supporting the work of such great artists. Please click on the composer's images to visit their website to learn more and support their music.

Cait Nishimura

Katahj Copley

Lauren Bernofsky

Stephen P. Harvey

Marie Douglas

Whitney George

Jolene Kohr

Anne McAninch

Trevor Weston

Kimberly Osberg

Zoe Cutler