UK tuba ensemble heads to D.C. for renowned Army Band conference

By Ali Kresslein

Ryan Moore has confined himself to the practice rooms in the Fine Arts Building since November, when he heard UK’s tuba-euphonium group was one of two college ensembles invited to play at a conference in Washington, D.C.

UK’s Conner Tuba-Euphonium Ensemble, in which Moore plays the euphonium, will present a feature concert at the United States Army Band Tuba-Euphonium Conference on Friday. The ensemble is performing a preview show for free tonight at 7:30 in the Singletary Center for the Arts.

Moore, a musical arts doctoral student, and the seven other members of the Conner Ensemble were ecstatic when they found out they would play at the prestigious Army Band conference, said ensemble director Skip Gray, a UK tuba professor.

“It’s the premier annual tuba-euphonium conference this year, and we were selected based on the reputation of our program and studio,” Gray said.

The Conner Ensemble, named for former UK tuba and euphonium professor Rex Conner, is made up of eight elite tuba-euphonium student musicians from UK’s tuba-euphonium studio. Moore said this year’s members are a “high-caliber” group and are some of the best students in the program.

Moore has been a part of the tuba-euphonium studio for eight years, since he started attending UK as a music performance major. The Conner Ensemble has been together for about five years, Moore said, but the eight players who will travel to Washington have only been playing together for a few months.

“There have been a couple of changes since last semester,” Moore said. “Players have come and gone.”

The ensemble performs around the community to help bring music to people, he said.

“We have played at several nursing homes and schools,” Moore said. “We like to expose them to tubas and euphoniums because most people don’t know what a euphonium is, but mainly expose people to music in general. Our ensemble likes giving back to the community.”

At the Army Band conference, the ensemble will play “Supernatural Encounters,” an original piece written by Gray, as well as a march.

Moore said the music would make for a “challenging show” for the ensemble, which is preparing with daily rehearsals that last more than an hour.

The Conner Ensemble’s conference performance on Friday at 4 p.m. will be broadcast online over the Army Band’s Web site (