“The world is a circus” reads the programme for the latest show – Cirque – from septet Mnozil Brass, who return to Nottingham for a show at the Royal Concert Hall this month. Merging comedy with virtuoso brass performances, they astound audiences the world over with the quality of their music, while simultaneously dissolving them into hilarity. A band that has to be experienced to be truly appreciated, they are funny, but the music, their talent and their sheer love of their craft is always front and centre. We caught up with the band’s sharply-dressed trumpet player (and sometime magician) Roman Rindberger who, when he’s not touring with Mnozil, is also a professor of music in his native Vienna...
Imagine we’ve never heard of Mnozil Brass. Describe who and what the band is...
Well, some people say what we do is a bit like Monty Python with music. I know this is a bold statement, but maybe it is the best explanation for what we do. We play all sorts of musical styles mixed up with singing and acting on an empty stage. We don’t only play music: we play with music. By that I mean we mix up and arrange many different songs and pieces in order to create something new. All with trumpets, trombones and a tuba!
What about your name, where’s that from?
Josef Mnozil’s is a pub in Vienna. 26 years ago there was a session every other week where everybody could play music and jam together. It’s across the street from the music university, so a group of students started having real fun, playing some folk tunes and marches together. This was the beginning of Mnozil Brass.
Other than Monty Python, who are your comedy inspirations? And what about your musical heroes?
Many great entertainers and comedians. Spike Jones and Victor Borges come to mind. For music, it is a never ending list of people who wrote good music: it goes from Bach to Shostakovich, and into all kinds of pop stars like Michael Jackson, Tom Jones and Abba! It is impossible to name them all – where there is good music, there is good inspiration!
How much do you know about Nottingham?
Not so much! We stayed there overnight once, as far as I remember. So, in fact, we are more than curious to explore the city, with its amazing history and sights.
Your current show is called Cirque. What can the audience expect from your circus?
First of all, a lot of good music. Cirque is a story about circus and everything that includes. We have some sad and funny clowns, a magician, a director and, of course, a tiger. It is a typical Mnozil show with very loud, and then very soft highlights from the world of music. My favourite part is when we play a piece from Stravinsky’s Firebird, and the whole overture of the little opera Die Fledermaus by Strauss.
We don’t only play music: we play with music.
You don’t have sheet music on stage, and you move around a lot. How do you avoid making mistakes?
Well, making mistakes is a very important part of creating a new show, because it immediately leads us to new ideas and funny situations. Our credo is to play with as much energy and engagement as possible and there is no space then for taking care of mistakes. Playing by heart opens up a lot of possibilities in acting and storytelling while you play. And it’s much more fun!
Do you find British audiences different to audiences elsewhere?
Basically, there is not much difference between all the countries we play. But there is one thing in the UK that always makes me smile: if something really unfair happens in our scenes on stage, the British audience tend to have a more emotional response than other audiences – they are very sympathetic!
What are the best and worst things about being on tour for most of the year?
The worst thing is the travelling, and having to move on every single day from one hotel to the next. But the best thing is being able to give some happiness and fun to all the people we play for. We really enjoy that people around the world understand the language of music, and it’s really nice to see how it connects with them. It’s also really cool to play in so many great halls and see so many different places all over the world. We are blessed and really happy to be able to do all of that!
Finally, is there anything else you’d like to add?
We are looking forward to coming to Nottingham and playing for you!
Mnozil Brass are performing at the Royal Concert Hall on Friday 8 March 2019. Tickets are on sale now.