Montana State University

MSU School of Music students win state chamber music competition

December 22, 2016 -- Eliese Besemer, MSU News Service

Bridger Brass Quintet musicians, from left, Briana Gillet, Kimberly Dattoli, Marques Ceasar-Lopez, Erica Eggleton and Jimmy Kelsey took first place in the Montana Music Teachers National Association state level competition in November. They will advance to the divisional round in January, to be held in Cheney, Washington, at Eastern Washington University. MSU Photo by Adrian Sanchez-Gonzalez

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MSU News Service
Tel: (406) 994-4571

BOZEMAN – A group of Montana State University School of Music students recently won the state level chamber music competition in Montana, which is part of the national Music Teachers National Association competition.

The Bridger Brass Quintet, supervised and coached by MSU trumpet professor Sarah Stoneback, will advance to the divisional level competition, to be held Jan. 14-16 on the campus of Eastern Washington University, in Cheney, Washington.

“Their success really is remarkable, and a testament to the talent we have here at MSU,” said Keith Kothman, director of the School of Music. “It’s a fairly new group, which usually takes some time to fully come together. But, if you give talented students excellent instruction, starting with their applied instrument teachers, and a truly skilled coach, in Professor Stoneback, you end up with tremendous possibilities.” 

The quintet is comprised of both music majors and non-music majors, including Briana Gillet, trumpet, a junior business management and music major from Bozeman; Jimmy Kelsey, trumpet, a junior music technology major from Bridger; Erica Eggleton, french horn, a senior chemical engineering major from Omaha, Nebraska; Kimberly Dattoli, trombone, a junior at Montana Bible College majoring in biblical studies, from Elmhurst, Illinois; and Marques Ceasar-Lopez, tuba, a junior music technology major from Alamosa, Colorado. The group performs together regularly at university functions, in the community and at local schools as part of educational outreach presentations.

“One of my greatest joys as an instructor is the ability to witness each student find and exercise their own musical voice,” Stoneback said. “The members of Bridger Brass have worked so hard, dedicated themselves to this group and have certainly made great progress toward finding that voice. I couldn’t be happier for them right now, and I have no doubt that they are going to have great things to say with their musicianship in January.”

The MTNA performance competitions provide educational experiences for students and teachers, as well as recognize exceptionally talented young artists and their teachers in their pursuit of musical excellence. The state competitions are considered the primary educational level with the division and national levels showcasing outstanding performance and honoring significant pedagogical achievement, according to the association’s website.

“The MTNA performance competitions are the preeminent student competitions in the United States,” said Gary L. Ingle, MTNA executive director and CEO. “The exceptionally talented Bridger Brass Quintet of MSU, the winners of the MTNA-Montana state competition, represent the excellence and remarkable achievement that are possible when talented students and their outstanding, dedicated teachers come together to discover the boundless enjoyment, challenges and fulfillment through musical performance at the highest level.”

MTNA was founded in 1876 with the purpose of advancing the value of music study and music-making to society while supporting the careers and professionalism of teachers of music.

For more information on the Bridger Brass Quintet, contact Stoneback at (406) 994-3562 or

For more information on the competition or MTNA, see

Contact: Sarah Stoneback, School of Music, (406) 994-3562 or