Acclaimed as "the perfect blend of virtuosity and vitality" (Chicago Brass Festival), the Alliance Brass has emerged as one of the country’s most exciting ensembles. Dazzling audiences with a repertoire ranging from the early Renaissance to jazz and beyond, the ensemble’s rigorous performance schedule has brought audiences to their feet all over the United States.
Members of the ensemble have also performed all over the world from Canada and Mexico to Russia, the UK, and Japan, having shared the stage with ensembles such as the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and the Cleveland Orchestra. In addition to performance, the ensemble is equally dedicated to the education of the next generation of musicians and music-lovers alike. The Ravinia Music Festival raves that the Alliance Brass "has the ability to engage audiences both with excitement and insight, offering a fascinating and rich musical performance." Members of the Alliance Brass have served on faculty at some of the top music institutions including the Boston University Tanglewood Institute, DePaul University, Midwest Young Artists, University of Illinois Chicago, the International Festival and Institute at Round Top, and more.
Beyond their teaching efforts, the ensemble also offers a wide range of programs designed to complement and enhance school music programs. Whether through performance, clinics, or workshops, the Alliance Brass has an infectious enthusiasm they use to inspire a passion for music wherever they go. Alliance Brass perform exclusively on Denis Wick mouthpieces and mutes.
Amy Nelson’s versatile resume crosses classical and commercial spectrums, ranging from pop and Broadway to orchestral and chamber. A native of Waukegan Illinois, she has lived and performed around the world. As a New York resident, she worked regularly on Broadway. She also spent two years touring with the International Broadway tours of Cinderella starring Lea Salonga, Fiddler on the Roof starring Topol, and the Sound of Music. She’s currently an active musician in Chicago’s Broadway theaters. Amy has performed with pop star Adele and Iceland’s Sigur Ros at the United Center and Madison Square Garden.
An active cornetist, Amy holds five North American Brass Band Association Solo Champion titles, and has soloed at events like the Great American Brass Band Festival, Grand Celebration of Brass Bands, the Grant Park Music Festival, the International Women’s Brass Conference, and the World Music Festival. Amy has performed with and coached brass bands across the USA which have enjoyed success at American competitions, in the United Kingdom, and Europe. She also performs regularly with orchestras in the Chicago area. She loves cycling and spending time with her family and their puggle when not performing.
Amy is a performing artist for Smith Watkins and Denis Wick.
Chris O’Hara (BM, The Boston Conservatory; MM, Boston University) is an internationally renowned trumpet soloist, chamber musician, and educator. His playing is described as “virtuosic and impressive in every way” (Chicago Music Examiner), and “a treat beyond measure” (Arlington Advocate), and the International Trumpet Guild Journal hails him as a “true master of [the] instrument.” Already in his young career, Chris has performed over 3,000 events covering 48 states and 11 countries across North America, Europe, Great Britain, and Asia. His performance schedule has taken him to notable venues such as the Ravinia Music Festival, the Tanglewood Music Festival, the Bethlehem Musikfest, the Festival de Camara de Musica in Aquacalientes Mexico, the Nagoya Conservatory of Music, and Millennium Hall in Japan.
Chris is a clinician for the Conn-Selmer Company and Denis Wick and has presented countless master classes and clinics at public schools and the world’s finest colleges and universities. He can be heard on recordings on the Paraclete and AAR labels. His numerous solo and chamber music recordings are available on Amazon, iTunes, and through . His performances have also been broadcast on NPR, NBC, WGN, the Hallmark Channel, and more.
Kelly Langenberg (M.M., De Paul University, B.M., B.M.E., Baldwin-Wallace University) is a classical musician and horn teacher based in the Chicago region.
Langenberg currently serves as Applied Faculty at Northern Illinois University, North Park University, University of Illinois-Chicago and as an Instructor at Elgin Community College. Langenberg’s “ferociously powerful” (International Trumpet Guild Journal, 2014) playing has been heard in orchestral and chamber music settings throughout the Midwest, including the Alliance Brass Quintet, the Alloy Horn Quartet, Chicago Philharmonic, Wisconsin Philharmonic, the Dubuque, Kenosha, Peoria, Lake Forest, Battle Creek, Elgin, Kalamazoo, Ars Viva!, Quad City symphonies, Yucatan Symphony (Mexico), the Cleveland Orchestra, and with Boston Brass, Josh Groban, Peter Gabriel, Il Volo, and others. Langenberg has presented masterclasses at schools and universities throughout the US and clinics at ILMEA, MMEA, OMEA, The Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic, and the Illinois Political Science Association. Langenberg’s primary teachers include Neil Kimel, Jon Boen, and Hans Clebsch. Langenberg is a Hans Hoyer USA Concert Artist and a Denis Wick Artist and Clinician.
Away from the horn, Langenberg enjoys jogging and gardening and is currently pursuing a Certificate in Non-Profit Management. She and husband, Jim, live in their restored Painted Lady Victorian in Elgin, Illinois, with their young twin daughters.
Originally from southern Florida, Steve Duncan first came to Illinois to study trombone performance and music theory at Northwestern University. After graduating, he spent a decade traveling with big bands and Broadway tours, playing venues from Seattle’s Benaroya Hall to New York’s Lincoln Center, and many more in between. His time on the road included an extended period as lead trombone with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra conducted by Buddy Morrow, where he was the featured balladeer at the band’s 2008 Montreal Jazz Fest performance, as well as stints with the Nelson Riddle Orchestra, Glen Miller Orchestra, and the Max Weinberg Big Band.
Having settled more permanently in Chicago, Steve performs regularly as a freelance trombonist and low brass doubler in a variety of styles including classical chamber music, theater pit work, and dixieland tuba playing. He is delighted to perform with the Alliance Brass and is continually challenged to rise to the high standard of musicality and virtuosity set by the other quintet members. Steve teaches trombone at Northeastern Illinois University and resides in the Albany Park neighborhood of Chicago with his wife, daughter, dog, and hive of Carnolian honeybees.
Jim Langenberg is a versatile musician who loves to play the tuba. He earned his MM from Roosevelt University and his BM from Northern Illinois University. Jim is the Principal Tuba of the Dubuque Symphony and has also performed with the Elgin Symphony, Illinois Philharmonic, Rockford Symphony, Peoria Symphony, Green Bay Symphony, Kenosha Symphony, Whiting Park Festival Orchestra, New Philharmonic, and Northwest Indiana Symphony.
In addition to orchestral work, Jim is an active chamber musician and regularly performs with the Alliance Brass Quintet. As a member of Mucca Pazza, Jim has performed at the Tour de Fat Festival, as well as performing arts centers across the country. In addition, he has also performed with the Chicago Brass Quintet, Alpine Thunder German Band, Big Shoulders Brass Band, and Band Baja Brass. As a teacher, Jim taught for several years at the Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp and maintains a private studio. Jim has been featured as a soloist with the Dubuque Symphony, the Waukegan Symphony, and the Northern Illinois University Philharmonic.
Jim’s talents extend beyond low brass. He is the owner of Brazen Bandworks, an instrument repair shop, and resides in Elgin, Illinois, with his wife and twin daughters.