Dallas Brass

Founded in Dallas, TX in 1983 by Michael Levine, the Dallas Brass has become one of America’s foremost musical ensembles. The group has established a unique blend of traditional brass instruments with a full complement of drums and percussion, which creates a performing entity of extraordinary range and musical challenges. The Dallas Brass repertoire includes classical masterpieces, Dixieland, swing, Broadway, Hollywood and patriotic music. In addition to their solo engagements, the Dallas Brass appears with symphony orchestras nationwide. Symphonic credits include the Cincinnati Pops conducted by Erich Kunzel, New York Pops conducted by Skitch Henderson, and the Philly Pops conducted by Peter Nero. The Dallas Brass has performed at Carnegie Hall, the John F. Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, and has toured overseas to Europe and the Far East. They have shared the stage with the late Bob Hope, have performed for Presidents Gerald Ford and George H. W. Bush, have appeared on the CBS “Early Show”, and their music has been used numerous times on the television show, “The Young & The Restless”. The ensemble has released seven recordings: Debut, Dallas Brass II, A Merry Christmas with Brass, Windborne, Nutcracker, American Songbook and American Musical Journey.

The Dallas Brass has a strong dedication to working with young musicians. They have published two books of original small ensemble music for middle school and high students called Brass Grooves, and they have played a major role in helping launch Harmony Bridge — a community outreach program for student musicians. In addition, almost every public performance has a student component including a clinic and invitation for students to join them on stage for a selection on the Dallas Brass concert. Over 300,000 students have performed with Dallas Brass over the years. Find more about the ensemble on Facebook, Instagram, and on our website – www.dallasbrass.com.

Michael Levine (Director) is originally from St. Louis Park, MN. He first attended the University of Minnesota and then The Juilliard School, where he received his Bachelor of Music Degree. For three years he held the position of Assistant Principal Trombone in the Jerusalem (Israel) Symphony Orchestra. Michael founded the Dallas Brass in 1983 and played trombone in the group until 2015. He continues to serve as the ensemble’s Master of Ceremonies and Artistic Director. Michael has recently created a program called Harmony Bridge, which is designed to connect school band students with people in senior communities around the country. At present, Harmony Bridge has been incorporated into elementary, middle and high school band programs in 17 states and in Finland. After living in Dallas for over 30 years, Michael now resides back in Minneapolis, MN. His passion outside of music, is watching and playing tennis.

Luis Cárdenas Casillas (Trumpet) grew up in Sioux Falls, SD, although his parents are of Mexican descent. Luis is a multi-genre trumpeter now based in Los Angeles. He has played behind such greats as hip hop duo Camp Lo, Mexican Norteno giants Los Tigres del Norte, jazz singer Barbara Morrison, and recorded for the Superbowl LVI performance of Lift Every Voice and Sing. Luis has also recorded for streaming services, television, radio, and studio albums. As an educator, he currently works with Youth Orchestra Los Angeles, in addition to a busy schedule as a guest clinician with high schools and universities around the country. Luis earned a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of North Texas, and a Master of Music degree from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Besides playing music and teaching, he loves ‘hanging out’ with his Cavalier King Charles Spaniel dogs, Mr. Darcy and Lizzie. Luis and his wife, Rachel, are newlyweds as of September 2023.

Brian Neal (Trumpet), born in Miami, FL, first joined Dallas Brass in 1999. In 2011, he took a hiatus and returned to the ensemble in 2022. During that time, he was appointed Director of Instrumental Studies and Professor of Trumpet at Miami Dade College in Miami, FL, a position which continues to hold. Brian received his training at the Manhattan School of Music in New York City. He has served as Principal Trumpet for the Miami City Ballet and has also released a solo CD with organist, Thomas Schuster entitled, “Reflections,” As a composer, Mr. Neal was invited to perform his composition, “Concertante #1” in Carnegie Hall and with the ‘Manuel Rodríguez Sales’ School-Conservatory of Leganés, Spain. The collaboration continues with the newly formed ensemble, “Ethos”, with the addition of voice, cello, and percussion performing his original works and arrangements of ancient and world music. Brian, along with his vocalist wife, Karen, have dual residences in Miami, FL and Sitka, AK.

Juan Berrios (Horn; Alto Horn; Flugelhorn) — Originally from Bayamón, Puerto Rico, Juan prides himself in his musical versatility. He has performed with a wide variety of musical ensembles ranging from symphony and jazz orchestras to British style brass bands as both ensemble performer and soloist. A passionate educator, Juan works with countless students of all ages across the country each year as a guest clinician, conductor, chamber music coach, marching band instructor, and private instructor. He holds degrees in horn performance and wind conducting from the University of Central Florida (B.M.) and University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory (M.M.) respectively. He is proud to be a Buffet Crampon Performing Artist and enjoys making music on the Hans Hoyer K10 French Horn and Besson Prestige Eb Tenor Horn. Juan currently serves as Instructor of Horn at the Virginia Tech School of Performing Arts. When not teaching or touring with the Dallas Brass, Juan enjoys spending lots of time with his wife — fellow musician/music educator — Anielka, traveling, being a foodie, playing billiards, bowling, and listening to (loudly played) music of all types

John Wasson (Trombone) born in St. Paul, MN, is a charter member of the Dallas Brass, having played bass trombone in the original ensemble.  John pursued a career as a writer, producer and free-lance bass trombonist and tuba player. He returned to the Dallas Brass last season on tenor trombone. John has also been one of the primary arrangers and composers of Dallas Brass’ repertoire over the years. His accomplishments outside of Dallas Brass include hundreds of published arrangements and compositions, most notably an arrangement of Caravan heard in the final scene of the 2014 Academy Award-winning motion picture “Whiplash”. His works may be found in the catalogs of Hal Leonard, Alfred Music, Walrus Publishing and SMP Press. John attended the University of North Texas and played in the acclaimed One O’Clock Lab Band. He also toured with the renowned Stan Kenton and Woody Herman Orchestras. He currently leads his own Strata Big Band in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Mr. Wasson is an XOBrass performing artist.

Paul Carlson (Tuba)— Paul grew up in Illinois and began playing the tuba in his sixth-grade band. He has completed studies in tuba performance at the University of Illinois (B.M.), the University of New Mexico (M.M.), and at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music (D.M.). His experience includes the New Mexico Brass Quintet, Santa Fe Symphony Brass Quintet, The King’s Brass, the Walt Disney Collegiate All-Star Band, Harvey Phillips Tuba Company, as well as a number of symphony orchestras. Paul has also been a featured soloist at International and Regional Tuba Euphonium Conferences. He is Assistant Professor of Tuba and Euphonium at Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids, MI. Paul is a Buffet Group USA Tuba Artist performing on Besson, B&S, and Meinl Weston tubas.

Craig Hill (Percussion) — is originally from Youngstown, OH.  He received both his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees at Youngstown State University, majoring in Percussion Performance and Music Education. Craig has performed extensively throughout the United States and internationally with the Broadway show Swing!, Tokyo Disneyland, Grand World Voyages Cruise Lines, Billboard Media Group, and a special production featuring winners of Grammy Awards. Currently residing in Minneapolis/St. Paul, the “Craig Hill Presents” concert series features local musicians and interdisciplinary artists with a focus on improvisation. Through private and group instruction, Craig has taught music to all age groups from early childhood to middle school, high school and university levels.