With a surname like Von Trapp, your reputation precedes you. For Elisabeth Von Trapp, granddaughter of the legendary Georg and Maria Von Trapp, she has been blessed to be part of many generations of musicians while being a gifted vocalist in her own right. Her grandparents were, of course, the subject of the beloved musical “The Sound of Music,” and her father, Werner, was one of the seven Von Trapp children who toured Europe and America as a singing family. Elisabeth Von Trapp, a Vermont native, possesses a clear, expressive soprano, perfect for interpreting classical and folk songs. For the second season in a row, she is on tour with the Empire Brass quintet performing a show titled “The Sound of Christmas.” The tour will make a stop at the Collins Center for the Arts in Orono, with a performance set for 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 11. Tickets are $38-$43, and are available online at www.collinscenterforthearts.com or by calling the box office at 581-1755. The Bangor Daily News spoke with Von Trapp earlier this week, as she was set to meet with the Empire Brass and pianist Douglas Major to begin their tour.
BDN: Do other members of your family still perform, or are you carrying the torch for the Von Trapps?
Von Trapp: In my generation, I'm the only one touring and playing professionally. I do have siblings that are very articulate musically — my sister plays in her church and my brother plays guitar. My brother's children also perform. But when we get together, it's just so much fun. It's terrific. Oftentimes, I end up performing in the same venues that my relatives did all those years ago. I get stories from audience members about how they heard them perform when they were 12 years old, or how the family stayed with them on the tour, and all sorts of amazing stories from all kinds of people. I'm beginning to truly understand what my father said about touring for all those years, and being strong enough to maintain your health through it all. I have a deeper understanding of his life now.
BDN: What can audiences expect at your concert with the Empire Brass?
Von Trapp: It's a program of songs of wintertime and holiday cheer. We weave together Christmas carols and some classical pieces and some personal stories into one cohesive whole. There's a beautiful dance between the brass and Douglas on piano and myself, where we find that right moment in which all the elements come together into something that really sparkles. It's really a lovely program. It speaks to the season.
BDN: What's it like singing with a brass group, instead of guitar or strings?
Von Trapp: It takes a whole different character of voice and singing, and finding the tones that blend correctly with the brass. There are five players, and I stay in the middle of them. The tone is just amazing. It's got this shining, almost golden kind of sound to it. The highlight of the experience of a brass quintet is the way in which they harmonize, and as my husband says, their five-part harmonies are a force of nature. It's wonderful to be onstage with them. I feel like I'm lifted up by them.
BDN: What other styles of music have you explored?
Von Trapp: I have a bluegrass band called Blue Train. When I have an opening in my schedule, I perform with them. It's a lot of fun. Empire Brass is my main project right now, however, and we're really excited to get this music out to people. And we love to travel to Maine. Audiences have always been very receptive there. I have very fond memories of Maine.