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Canadian Brass (Brass Ensemble)

Founded: 1970 - Toronto, Canada

The five virtuosi of Canadian Brass (= CB) have made the brass quintet an exciting vehicle for serious concert music. The quintet - now finishing its 30th season - consists of Joe Burgstaller, trumpet; Ryan Anthony, trumpet; Jeff Nelsen, French horn; Gene Watts, trombone; and Chuck Daellenbach on tuba.

The group has a long history of recording classical repertoire. They have a special affinity for Baroque music, which requires the brilliance and musical structure that has become the Canadian Brass’ trademark.

Their more than 50 recordings to date include works by Purcell, Antonio Vivaldi, Gabrieli, Johann Pachelbel, L.v. Beethoven and Wagner - all in meticulously crafted transcriptions that are setting new musical traditions in brass performance. They are especially drawn to the works of J.S. Bach. The recently recorded Goldberg Variations (BWV 988) on the RCA Victor label is a fortuitous match. Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D minor has been recorded by Canadian Brass several times and is perhaps their most popular concert work.

The Canadian Brass sprang from modest and highly experimental roots in Toronto, Ontario, in 1970. The brass quintet was not established as a serious concert ensemble at that time, and it proved an irresistible challenge to Gene and Chuck. Their imagination and consummate musicianship eventually elevated the art of the brass quintet to what it is today.

Thanks to their pioneer status, the quintet developed a unique character and rapport with audiences that proved so successful that it has been emulated by many other ensembles. Canadian Brass master the gamut of concert presentations - from formal classical concerts to music served up with lively dialogue and theatrical effects. No matter what the style, the music is central and performed with utmost dedication and excellence.

The "fabulous five" spend most of their time on tour, and have performed with many major symphony orchestras in the US, Canada, Europe and Japan. They have gained a large international following of their solo performances that offer a large variety of musical styles.

Having started with the very limited base of traditional works for brass, Canadian Brass set out to create their own musical world by transcribing, arranging and commissioning more than 200 works. They are not only presenting works in the classical repertoire but continue to take daring leaps into jazz, contemporary concert music and popular songs. Most of this music, including the Goldberg Variations (BWV 988), is published by Hal Leonard. It is the inspiration and musical staple of students and brass ensembles in North America and Europe.

Millions of television viewers have seen the Canadian Brass in such shows as The Tonight Show, Today, and Entertainment Tonight. They have appeared as guest artists on Evening at Pops with John Williams and the Boston Pops Orchestra, Beverly Sills’ Music Around the World, and numerous PBS specials. The quintet has also created eight videos that have gained an international audience.

All members of the Canadian Brass are keenly interested in training the next generation of players. On their travels around the world, performing on gold-plated Yamaha instruments, they often pause for master classes. The famous five are chamber quintet-in-residence at the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara, California. They have been invited by the Canadian Government to play for visiting heads of states on numerous official occasions.

Source: Canadian Brass Website (2002)
Contributed by
Mattew Neugebauer & Aryeh Oron (June 2002)

Canadian Brass: Short History | Recordings of Vocal Works

Links to other Sites

Canadian Brass (Official Website)


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