Amy Gilreath, a founding member of Stiletto Brass Quintet, has an active professional career as both a performer and university professor. She is Principal Trumpet with the Illinois Symphony Orchestra, the Illinois Chamber Orchestra, Sinfonia da Camera, has played extra/sub with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, and serves as the Brass faculty of the Orvieto Musica Trumpet Fest and Chamber Music Festival in Orvieto Italy. Amy has been a past member of Dallas Brass, Velvet Brass; and continues to be a member of the Monarch Brass Ensemble. She has appeared as a soloist with the Illinois Symphony Orchestra, the Leyland Brass Band, the Illinois Chamber Orchestra, Orvieto Musica Chamber Orchestra, as well as many university and high school bands. Along with other performances in Italy, France, Germany, England, Austria, Spain, and Hungary, Amy has been an invited soloist and clinician at the Sounds News Music Festival in Canterbury, England; the Hans Marteau Brass Festival in Hof, Germany; and the Exploring the Trumpet Festival in Kalavrita, Greece, the International Women’s Brass Conference, International Trumpet Guild Conference, and a finalist in the Ellsworth Smith International Trumpet Competition. In 2010 she appeared as the first woman soloist at the International Romantic Trumpet Festival held in St. Petersburg and Moscow Russia. Amy has received numerous praises for her solo CD entitled Enjoying Life and can be heard on the Sinfonia da Camera recordings “Enescu: Impressions and Chamber Symphony” and “William Schuman, On Freedom’s Ground” released by Albany Records. She was the featured artist in the December 2009 international magazine “The Brass Herald” and is pictured on the front cover.
In the Fall of 2021 Amy joined the School of Music faculty at the University of Illinois as the new trumpet professor. in 2019 she became Professor Emeritus when she retired as Professor of Trumpet at Illinois State University. Her former students have been finalists in many different competitions, hold positions in some of the US premier military bands and other base bands throughout the United States and perform in throughout the US, Canada and Portugal. She also has students teaching throughout the US and in Italy. She is currently serving on the Board of Directors for the International Womens' Brass Conference and as been co-host of the 2003 and 2006 International Women’s Brass Conference.
Velvet Brown founding member of Stiletto Brass Quintet, is professor of tuba and euphonium at Pennsylvania State University. Prior to joining the faculty at Penn State in 2003, she taught at Bowling Green State University (Ohio), Ball State University (Indiana), and served as an associate director of University Bands at Boston University. Ms. Brown is currently a member of the ITEA Board of Directors and has served as the secretary of the Executive Committee for the International Tuba and Euphonium Association (2001–2007). She is also a founding board member of the International Women’s Brass Conference. Ms. Brown is noted for receiving the 1999-2000 William Fulbright Fellowship Vinciguerra Award. She has had many successful students who have won prestigious playing and teaching positions as well as prizewinners at various regional, national and international competitions.
Velvet Brown also enjoys a professional career as an international soloist and chamber ensemble performer, recording artist, conductor and orchestral player. She has made regular appearances throughout Italy, Switzerland, Austria, Germany, Finland, France, England, Hungary, Slovenia, Russia, Japan, Canada and the United States. Ms. Brown is currently the principal tubist of the Altoona Symphony Orchestra and the New Hampshire Music Festival Orchestra. She has served as principal tuba with the River City Brass Band, and as substitute or additional tubist with the Detroit Symphony, Saint Louis Symphony, San Francisco Women’s Philharmonic, and the Fort Wayne Philharmonic. In 2004, Brown joined Howard Johnson’s “Gravity” Tuba Jazz Ensemble as lead tuba.
She has also garnered high praise as a founding and current member of the Monarch Brass Quintet and Brass Ensemble, the Junction Tuba Quartet, and the Pennsylvania Brassworks (Faculty Brass at Penn State). She has released three solo CDs on the Crystal Records label, a CD for the Nicolai Music label,and her latest CD, Simply Velvet can be found on the Potenza Record label . Velvet Brown can also be heard on Albany Records in her interpretation of John Williams’ Tuba Concerto. Velvet Brown is a Meinl Weston Performing Artist, performing on the MW 2250 and 2182 F tubas, and the MW 2000 C tuba.
Natalie Mannix is an avid soloist, chamber musician, orchestral performer and educator. In fall of 2016 she began her current position at the University of North Texas after teaching eight years at Towson University in Baltimore and playing Principal Trombone in the Delaware Symphony for 14 years. Previously, she was a member of the United States Navy Band in Washington, DC for over nine years where she performed with the brass quintet, concert and ceremonial band.
Dr. Mannix has appeared as guest artist and clinician at colleges and conferences throughout North America, including the 2018, 2016 and 2013 International Trombone Festival, the International Women’s Brass Conference, the Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic and the American Trombone Workshop. She has performed with the Dallas Symphony, Dallas Opera, Baltimore Symphony, National Symphony, the Washington Opera and Kennedy Center Orchestras, the Washington Trombone Ensemble, the Monarch Brass, Stiletto Brass and several regional orchestras and brass ensembles. A new music advocate, she has commissioned several works for trombone and continues to perform and promote music by emerging composers.
Her recent recordings include a solo album, Breaking Ground: A Celebration of Women Composers and chamber music CDs: And If All Were Dark with Dave Taylor and the Washington Trombone Ensemble, Mozart Requiem with the Dallas Chamber Choir and Orchestra, the grammy-nominated Interchange: Concertos by Rodrigo and Assad with the Delaware Symphony and the LA Guitar Quartet; and Shadowcatcher: Music for Winds, Brass and Percussion.
An avid brass pedagogue Natalie has adjudicated international solo and ensemble competitions and serves on the Board of Advisors and as chair of the Competition Committee for the International Trombone Association and on the Board of Directors for the International Women’s Brass Conference.
Natalie received her degrees from the University of Michigan, The Juilliard School and her Doctor of Musical Arts degree from Catholic University.
Trumpeter, Susan Rider, resides in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area and has an active career
as an orchestral, wind band, chamber, and solo performer. In the region she has performed with various ensembles including the Annapolis Chorale and Chamber Orchestra, Columbia Pro Cantare Festival Orchestra, Alexandria Symphony, Concert Artists of Baltimore, Harrisburg Symphony, Snark Ensemble, and the Cathedral Choral Society Orchestra. In addition, she is a member of the Stiletto Brass Quintet, Monarch Brass, and “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band where she regularly performs at the White House, on tour, and in concert and ceremonies in the DC area.
A native Iowan, she lived in Southern Indiana and West Texas before moving to the east coast. Previously Susan performed as a member of the Waterloo/Cedar Falls Symphony, Columbus Indiana Philharmonic, Owensboro Symphony, Spoleto Festival USA Orchestra, West Texas Symphony (formerly the Midland/Odessa Symphony) and Lone Star Brass Quintet. She has performed with the Evansville Philharmonic and New World Symphony.
As a soloist, Susan has been featured with several ensembles to include The Hannaford Street Silver Brass Band (Canada), The Volga Band (Russia), Ars Nova Chamber Orchestra, Atlanta Youth Wind Symphony, The Louisville Winds, California State University Northridge Wind Ensemble, Fort Dodge Area Orchestra, and The United States Marine Band. She has performed in ensemble and as a featured soloist at various music conferences, among them The Midwest Clinic, International Women’s Brass Conference, and the International Trumpet Guild.
As an educator, Susan has held positions as adjunct faculty at Purdue and Shenandoah Universities; as an Associate Instructor at Indiana University; and as a private trumpet/cornet instructor for the Ector County Independent School District in Odessa, Texas. Her educational outreach has included in-person and virtual masterclasses/clinics/festivals nationally and internationally, and she maintains a private teaching studio in Northern Virginia.
Susan completed her musical education from the University of Northern Iowa (B.M.), and the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music (M.M. and D.M.). She is grateful to have studied with trumpet teachers/performers Keith Johnson, Randy Grabowski, Charles Gorham, and Edmund Cord.
Guest Horn Artist Stacie Mickens joined the UNT College of Music faculty as an associate professor of horn in August 2018. Prior to her appointment, she was associate professor at the Dana School of Music, Youngstown State University, and also previously served on the faculties of Luther College (Decorah, IA) and Winona State University (Winona, MN). She completed her doctorate of musical arts at the University of Michigan as a recipient of the Rackham Fellowship Award. There she studied with former Philadelphia Orchestra member and jazz musician Adam Unsworth and with Detroit Symphony member Bryan Kennedy. She holds a master of music degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she studied with renowned horn pedagogue Douglas Hill. She received a bachelor of arts degree in music and English from Luther College, studying horn with Patricia Brown and piano with John Strauss.
As an orchestral musician, Mickens has performed with Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, Plano Symphony Orchestra, Pittsburgh Opera, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Detroit Chamber Winds, Blossom Music Festival, Monarch Brass, Madison Symphony Orchestra, and Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra. She previously held positions in orchestras in Akron, Wheeling, Youngstown, Lansing, Dearborn, Southwest Michigan, La Crosse, Waterloo-Cedar Falls, and Dubuque. She is currently principal horn of Richardson Symphony Orchestra.
Mickens’ solo recorded album From the Great Lakes was released in 2020 and features new works composed for her by David Morgan and James Wilding. “Stacie Mickens’s playing is superb; her musicality has a sort of confidence that makes one feel entirely secure in her hands (given the precarious nature of the French horn, that’s no mean compliment). This is a most enjoyable disc, well recorded and presented.” – Fanfare Nov/Dec 2020. “Stacie Mickens…shows masterful control of her instrument throughout the CD, displaying the diverse sound quality of the horn with beautifully lyrical and melancholic playing…”– Brass Band World Dec 2020.
Mickens is a founding member of Lantana Trio with her UNT colleagues Raquel Samayoa, trumpet, and Natalie Mannix, trombone. Lantana has commissioned works for brass trio by Jeff Scott, Ivette Herryman Rodriguez, Shanyse Strickland, Dorothy Gates, and Erik Morales. These works will be featured on Lantana Trio’s debut album to be released in 2022. The group co-hosted the International Women’s Brass Conference at UNT May 24-28, 2022.
As a young musician, Mickens participated in drum and bugle corps and marching arts activities. She was a member of Star of Indiana’s Brass Theater, world champion Cadets, and Colts.