A brass act: Popular Canadian quintet to keep Amp audience guessing

Provided photo
Canadian Brass

After more than 40 years of tooting their own horns on an international stage, the gold-plated ensemble Canadian Brass is coming to Chautauqua Institution, at 8:15 p.m. tonight in the Amphitheater.

The quintet, which first formed in 1970, has recorded more than 100 albums — selling more than 2 million copies — and performed live 7,000 times. While Canadian Brass has consisted of numerous different members over its four-decade lifespan, the ensemble is still fronted by its tuba-toting founding member, Charles Daellenbach. Alongside Daellenbach are Achilles Liarmakopoulos on the trombone, Bernhard Scully on the horn, and trumpet players Caleb Hudson and Christopher Coletti.

Canadian Brass all but created the idea of a brass quintet, as the group gained notoriety through performances on such programs as “Sesame Street,” and “The Tonight Show.” The ensemble is recognized being the first Western brass band to perform in the People’s Republic of China in 1977, as well as being the first brass ensemble to play the main stage at Carnegie Hall.

Characterized by their matching black tuxedos, white sneakers and American-made, 24-karat gold-plated Conn-Selmer instruments, Canadian Brass has created a unique identity all their own. In fact, the band is always guaranteed to keep its audience guessing as they play everything from Johann Sebastian Bach’s Little Fugue in G Minor to a 10-minute condensed pageant of Georges Bizet’s final opera, Carmen.

“Our No. 1 priority is creating a direct connection with the audience,” Coletti said. “We play this amazing music really well in a way that, even if you’ve never heard it before, you feel like you’ve heard it a thousand times, while at the same time not dumbing it down for the people who do know it.”

Having played in the band since September 2009, Coletti has earned his spot among the “world’s most famous brass group.” After receiving his master’s degree in trumpet performance from The Juilliard School of Music in 2008, he has since gone on to record four chart-topping albums with the quintet.

In addition to performing on the trumpet, Coletti sheepishly admitted to being a closet soprano, a skill he will show off by singing one note during the quintet’s rendition of Carmen.

The group’s devotion to music education sets them apart from other similar acts, as they seek to educate music lovers of all ages about music through personal anecdotes, master classes and private lectures for outreach programs.

“We’ve lost sight of the fact that music education is about learning something fun,” Coletti said. “The most important thing to learn is how to listen to music and experience life on a deeper level, how to work together on a deeper level. We think the greatest thing is having kids come to our show and actually show an interest.”

And children are more than welcome at tonight’s recital in the Amphitheater. According to Coletti, a Canadian Brass show is just as exciting for an educated audience of Classical enthusiasts as it is for a group of 6-year-old children who think Beethoven is a Saint Bernard. “That’s why my job satisfies every expectation I’ve ever had,” Coletti said. “I’ve found that the longer I play with the band, the more fun it gets. It’s just awesome.”