Our story began with the late Ron K. Collier.
Mr. Collier spent his life building rare and specialized instruments. As a scholar of early music, was one of the few instrument makers in the world to build instruments to the specifications of the 17th Century. The instruments, always made by hand through individual orders, were used by musicians in the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and by music professionals and universities with early music programs throughout the world.
After leaving the U.S. Army, Mr. Collier worked as a record-keeper for the Illinois Central Railroad, and later began repairing and building modern trumpets at the Schilke Instrument Co. in Chicago. He soon branched out on his own, building period instruments and continuing instrument repairs at a shop in Naperville. In 1987, Mr. Collier moved to Chicago, where he repaired brass instruments for the Quinlan & Fabish Music Co. as well as built music instruments in his home.
Before his passing in 1999, Ron passed on his knowledge to David Maller of Chicago, IL. Now operating as Maller Brass, David continues the work that Mr. Collier passed on to provide some of the world’s finest hand-crafted brass instruments.
David Maller, Owner
David Maller started out manufacturing natural trumpets and sackbuts after apprenticing with the late Ronald K. Collier. It wasn’t long before David started making other historical and modern trumpets, cornets, sackbuts, and trombones.
David has spent most of his life dedicated to studying both modern and historical manufacturing techniques. David also taught Music History and private lessons in the Chicago Public Schools and privately for many years. He was also a finalist in the Historic Division of the Natioinal Trumpet Competition and the sponsor for their Large Collegiate Ensemble Division.
David also works as a freelance trumpet player in the Chicago area and in Central Pennsylvania where he currently resides.
Paul Cassarly, Apprentice
Paul Cassarly started playing trumpet at age nine, playing throughout his K-12 education in the Altoona Area School District under Dennis Moses and Joshua Hillard; he achieved the distinction of being a State Orchestra Trumpeter all three years while at AAHS. Paul then attended Penn State University School of Music under the direction of Dr. Langston Fitzgerald III.
After two years of study, Paul then auditioned for and joined the U.S. Marine Drum & Bugle Corps in Washington, D.C. after basic training at Parris Island, SC and combat training at Camp Geiger, NC.
After leaving active duty in 2015, Paul assists David as an apprentice learning the art of brass instrument manufacturing, as well as helping with marketing and advertising efforts for the company through his own business.
Photo Credit: Blair County Arts Foundation
The Story So Far
David (left) and Paul (right) were separately invited to perform for a special concert on December 8, 2019 with the Altoona Symphony Orchestra.
Themed as “Kiera’s Dream” through the Brian Morden Foundation (view the Facebook post here), a local non-profit owned by the late Dawn Morden, the concert was a meeting of fates for both trumpeters.
“During intermission, David and I were talking,” Paul recalled, “and we made a deal that if I made him a website he would make me a trumpet as a barter. Well, you see how that turned out – he made me make my own horns, and now I have an apprenticeship that I never thought I would have the opportunity to experience!”
To date, Paul has learned how to make Bb and C modern trumpets, as well as an American Civil War bugle and a Natural Trumpet pitched in “baroque D” tuning. Paul also participated in the 2022 North American Baroque Trumpet Competition at the University of Kentucky, and was the only participant to perform on a purely authentic natural trumpet against his competitors.