Asburians Are Among Nation’s Top Brass Musicians – Asbury University
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Asburians Are Among Nation’s Top Brass Musicians

June 14, 2018

Asbury University alumni are part of an ensemble drawn from the Chicago Symphony, the President’s Own United States Marine Band and the New York Philharmonic.

What does the combination of cornets, alto horns, euphoniums and tubas represent?

For the average music enthusiast, a brass ensemble. For Asbury University’s Assistant Professor of Music Nathan Miller ’05, rich musical history and a long tradition of Asbury excellence.

Recently, Miller, along with fellow Asburians Jim Curnow ’66 and Mark Ridenour ’81 paid homage to the brass ensemble and demonstrated the generation-transcending excellence of Asbury’s Music Department as part of a new group called the American Conical Ensemble.

Comprising some of the nation’s top musicians, the group performed throughout last weekend at several sites in Central Kentucky before recording in Asbury’s new Jameson Recital Hall. The group includes Christopher Martin, principal trumpet for the New York Philharmonic; Ridenour, acting principal for the Chicago Symphony; and three members of the President’s Own United States Marine Band with Diaz on the euphonium, Matt Harding on the cornet and Chris Tiedeman on the tuba.

brass musicians playing in an ensembleThe ensemble came into being through connections made at Asbury. During the summer of 2017, Miller, Hiram Diaz and Ridenour were working as teaching faculty at the University’s summer brass camp. It was there that the trio decided to form the American Conical Ensemble after performing together throughout the camp.

Get a glimpse into the ensemble’s work by watching the video below of the group performing “Appalachian Fiddle Tunes.” The piece was composed by Curnow, former professor and composer-in-residence emeritus for the University.  

“This group was particularly exciting as an Asburian, because it included three generations of Asbury musicians that reflect the excellence of the department across time,” Miller said. “We performed a piece by Jim Curnow, who was a student and professor here. While he was here, he was a major influence on Mark Ridenour, one of his students. Later, Mark became the Bandmaster at the Salvation Army where I grew up. His influence was one of the primary reasons that I attended Asbury.”

The project not only brought Asburians together through the power of music — it also showed the greater music community the high-quality musicians that the Asbury Music Department produces.

“Often people aren’t aware of the excellence of Asbury’s music program,” Miller said. “This project put that excellence on display. Jim Curnow is one of the most prominent instrumental composers in the U.S. Mark Ridenour plays in one of the world’s great orchestras. This ensemble attracted other world class performers to Wilmore because of the excellence exhibited by these fine Asburians. As a professor in the department, it is great to see the excellence that Asbury has produced over the years.”

Congratulations to Miller for his wonderful performances and collaborations with fellow musicians through the American Conical Ensemble. 

Learn more about Asbury University’s Music Department by visiting