With an international reputation as one of the today’s most popular brass ensembles, Canadian Brass has truly earned the distinction of “the world’s most famous brass group.”
Friends Chuck Daellenbach and Gene Watts first came together in 1970 to form a brass quintet—a chamber music setting not entirely new, but never before having garnered the success and fame the group would achieve over the next 40 years. Initially, Watts took on the role of developing new repertoire while Daellenbach was the moving force in marketing, publishing, and managing the business. Three empty chairs were quickly filled and together, the group’s imagination and consummate musicianship elevated the art of the brass quintet to what it is today. Here was not only an opportunity to explore the possibilities of an all-brass chamber group but a challenge to bring the sound and the excitement of brass music to new audiences.
Masters of concert presentations, Canadian Brass has developed a uniquely engaging stage presence and a strong rapport with audiences. Each of their concerts celebrates a wide range of music that includes new compositions and arrangements created especially for the ensemble. The hallmark of any Canadian Brass performance is entertainment, spontaneity, virtuosity, and—most of all—fun… but never at the expense of the music: Whatever the style, the music is central and performed with utmost dedication, skill, and excellence.
With a discography of over 130 albums and an extensive worldwide touring schedule, Canadian Brass is an important pioneer in bringing brass music to mass audiences everywhere. The group has sold well over 2 million albums worldwide, with 1.2 million sold in the Nielsen Soundscan era alone (since 1991). The musicians continue to score Billboard chart positions—as with their rousing recording of patriotic songs and marches, Stars & Stripes: Canadian Brass Salute America, which spent eight weeks in the Top 25 on the Billboard Classical Chart (peaking at #2!). Touring legends with an enthusiastic fan base, Canadian Brass plays to packed houses everywhere throughout the United States, Canada, Japan, and Europe. The group has also toured Australia, the Middle East, the former Soviet Union, and South America. They were the first brass ensemble from the West to perform in the People’s Republic of China (where they returned for a five-city tour to great acclaim in the spring of 2010 and for several visits after this, including an appearance on Hunan TV for Chinese New Year), as well as the first brass group to take the main stage at Carnegie Hall. On numerous occasions Canadian Brass has been invited by the Canadian government to play for visiting heads of state, becoming one of Canada’s greatest resources and musical ambassadors.
Millions of television viewers have welcomed Canadian Brass into their homes through appearances on The Tonight Show, Today, and Entertainment Tonight, and recently, more than half a billion viewers witnessed a special Chinese New Year concert on China’s most popular station. The group has appeared as guest artists on Evening at Pops with John Williams and the Boston Pops; Beverly Sills’ Music Around the World; numerous PBS specials, including a celebrated appearance on Sesame Street; and are frequent guests of many major symphony orchestras. Canadian Brass was the featured group on the soundtrack to the 1988 film The Couch Trip, starring Dan Aykroyd and Walter Matthau. Consummate artists, the quintet has also created unique and interactive videos that have attracted a large international audience, including a series of DVDs featuring the group in concert and teaching. They are on the cutting edge of technology offering fans multimedia airplay, downloads, YouTube videos, and streaming opportunities, as well as digital applications with iPhone and other smart phone carriers. You can find them twittering and on Facebook with their fan base growing daily.
The varied Canadian Brass repertoire features brass standards as well as a wide-ranging library of original arrangements. These include the works of Renaissance and Baroque masters, classical works, marches, holiday favorites, ragtime, Dixieland, Latin, jazz, big band, Broadway, and religious music, as well as popular songs and standards. Having started with a limited base, Canadian Brass has created its own musical world by transcribing, arranging, and commissioning more than 600 works, including critically acclaimed compositions by Michael Kamen, Luther Henderson, Bramwell Tovey, Don Gillis, and others. They have transformed a previously neglected group of instruments with a limited repertoire, becoming a versatile and vital ensemble that can play everything from Gabrieli to Gershwin. Canadian Brass is especially noted for its famous holiday concerts at Christmastime and was at the forefront of re-establishing Scott Joplin with today’s audiences through their research, arrangements, and recordings of Joplin’s “rags” and other works.
Education plays a key role in the story of Canadian Brass and each member is uniquely attuned to the responsibilities of training the next generation of players. On their travels around the world, the group’s members often pause for master classes and are more than happy to work with students and young audiences. Canadian Brass is currently Ensemble in Residence at the University of Toronto after having been Chamber Quintet-in-Residence for many years at the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara, and has created an innovative brass summer course at the Eastman School of Music. The musicians’ support of education is also clearly evident in their outreach and interaction with El Sistema, the acclaimed global music education program in Venezuela.
In conjunction with the Hal Leonard Corporation, Canadian Brass has made available their extensive library of brass music for performers of all levels as well as assorted learning tools. Since 1998, the group has been a recording artist at Opening Day Entertainment Group (ODEG, distributed by IDLA), releasing over 25 CDs on the imprint to date. Opening Day is owned and run by Chuck Daellenbach together with his wife, MB. Canadian Brass sheet music and recordings are available from the ensemble’s online store.
The Canadian Brass is represented by IMG Artists in New York.