The game-changing brass quintet Canadian Brass has performed in virtually every major concert hall in the world, been seen by hundreds of millions of people on television, sold 2 million of their approximately 100 albums worldwide and contributed nearly 600 new works and arrangements to the brass quintet repertoire. In addition to winning the German recording industry’s highest accolade, a Best Classical Album Echo Award in 2000 for Bach: Goldberg Variations; an Italian “Red Rose” Video Award for Home Movies; three Grammy nominations plus a 2000 win for music they commissioned from Peter Schickele that was competing against another nominated Brass album, the Brass have scored a record-setting 15 Juno nominations. They are one of the Canadian government’s go-to ensembles for official state events and have criss-crossed the globe as the brightest ambassadors of the brass repertoire. The first brass ensemble to tour China and the first to play the main stage at Carnegie Hall, they are almost single-handedly responsible for elevating the art of the brass quintet to what it is today.
Canadian Brass is made up of five extraordinary talents: visionary founder, tuba legend and business specialist Chuck Daellenbach plus four of the next generation’s top brass stars—Caleb Hudson and Christopher Coletti (trumpets), Achilles Liarmakopoulos (trombone) and Jeff Nelsen (horn). Beyond their unbelievable technical skills and musicality, each player possesses the creativity, good humour and genuine love of performing that has become the hallmark of Canadian Brass.
Indeed, owing to the ensemble’s versatility and charismatic showmanship, there is no other brass quintet that comes even close to having the name recognition that Canadian Brass commands. Yet rather than resting on their (unquestionably impressive) laurels, the five formidable players are continually innovating to expand the brass repertoire, satisfy and challenge their loyal fan base, use new media to connect to audiences worldwide, and guide young players through the opportunities and challenges of today’s exciting professional music scene via extensive educational outreach.
The varied Canadian Brass repertoire features brass standards as well as a wide-ranging library of original arrangements created especially for them and by them. These include the works of Renaissance and Baroque masters, classical pieces, contemporary compositions, marches, holiday favourites, ragtime, Dixieland, Latin, jazz, big band, Broadway tunes and Christian music as well as popular songs and standards. Having started with a very limited base, Canadian Brass has created their own musical world by transcribing, arranging and commissioning more than 600 works, including critically acclaimed compositions from Michael Kamen, William Bolcom, Gary Kulesha, Lukas Foss, Peter Schickele, Sonny Kompanek and more. They have transformed a previously neglected group of instruments with a limited repertoire into a versatile and vital ensemble that can play everything from Gabrieli to Gershwin. They played a critical role in establishing Scott Joplin with today’s audiences through their research, arrangements and recordings of his “rags” and other works. And for many people, it wouldn’t be Christmas without one of the Canadian Brass’ famous Holiday Concerts.
Their contributions to modern performance style are immeasurable. Fine performances are woven together with insightful asides about the programme and light-hearted banter with the audience. Entertaining without ever pandering, the Brass exude warmth, wit and joy, making every audience member a part of their family. Coming from the cool, hushed classical world, the Brass’ approach has been nothing less than revolutionary.
Canadian Brass’ storied past features a number of breakthroughs and their penchant for anticipating major cultural shifts continues to propel the group onward and upward. Being the first brass ensemble ever to play the main stage at Carnegie Hall, the Brass attracted a lot of attention when they opted to head to the hot downtown club Le Poisson Rouge during their last visit to New York City. And when the majors were struggling to keep up with the digital revolution, Canadian Brass took things into their own hands, transforming indie record company Opening Day Entertainment Group into the ensemble’s primary label with enormous success. Stars & Stripes: Canadian Brass Salute to America spent eight weeks in the Top 25 on the Billboard Classical Chart in 2010.
Canadian Brass is ensemble-in-residence at the University of Toronto, where they have been developing a brand new patented course called Shape Your Own Musical Destiny. Aimed at helping young musicians navigate the brave new world of the self-creating musical professional, it is a perfect complement to their performance workshops offered under the banner of Effortless Performance. In addition, you’ll find each of the Brass members leading master classes and workshops across the globe in conjunction with the group’s packed touring schedule. Many young musicians’ have also benefited from the Brass’ numerous educational DVDs and videos on their YouTube channel. Having prospered through the volatile changes that have overtaken the musical world since the ensemble’s founding in 1970, Canadian Brass’ groundbreaking approach to education has influenced many conservatories to re-evaluate how they are training the future generations of classical musicians.
When not on stage, you can find the members busy behind the scenes, exploring new frontiers in the world of music performance and keeping up with fans via Canadian Brass YouTube Channel, Facebook, Twitter (@CanadianBrass), Flickr and their website, CanadianBrass.com.
Canadian Brass records exclusively for Opening Day Entertainment.