Email this articleE-mail this story  Discuss this articleWrite letter to editor  Discuss this articleOrder a classified ad  Print this page

No pain in the brass

Adam Johnson
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Dec 08/06) - The words "brass" and "quintet" don't usually evoke images of exciting, high-energy fun.

However, Calgary's Foothills Brass did their best to link them forever in Yellowknife audience's minds during a night of what founding member and trumpeter Chris Morrison called "serious fun."
NNSL Photo/graphic

Chris Morrison, left, and Ben Perrier play along with the rest of Foothills Brass during their well-attended return to the Northern Arts and Cultural Centre last weekend. - Adam Johnson/NNSL photo

For two well-attended nights last Friday and Saturday at the Northern Arts and Cultural Centre, the brass quintet gave it their all in It's Christmas, a collection of traditional and contemporary Christmas songs.

While a semi-circle of chairs were in place on stage, the quintet spent the first song on their feet, as Morrison, fellow trumpeter Jay Michalak, french horn player Rosalee Morrison, tubist Keith Hartshorn-Walton and trombonist Ben Perrier bobbed, weaved and interacted with the well-practised flair of a group that performs up to 200 times a year.

This easy, flowing entertainment carried on in between songs, as each member took a turn at the mike, telling jokes and introducing songs.

Early on, Chris Morrison told the story behind Handel's Music for the Royal Fireworks, a successful piece composed for King George II's fireworks display.

"The fireworks were not quite as successful, as they set parts of London ablaze," he said.

Later, a striking trombone solo piece from Perrier drew wild cheers from the audience."How do you follow that?" Hartshorn-Walton asked with a smile.

"Don't even try!" a familiar voice in the crowd shouted.

"Hey, we tell the jokes here," the tubist responded.

After the intermission, the quintet played "Joy to the World," a piece they brought out during a special performance in Bethlehem. However, they performed it from the "queen's box," off to the side of the stage.

The move demonstrated the group's willingness to use NACC to its full potential, all in their quest to create a festive atmosphere. This continued in their performance of Sleigh Ride, written by Leroy Anderson for the Boston Pops, a group considerably larger than a quintet.

The piece required all five members to take on percussion duties, banging sleigh bells against their legs and whacking cowbells with drum sticks all while playing the brass parts.

"Don't try this at home," Chris Morrison said with a laugh.

For an encore, Foothills played We Wish You a Merry Christmas, and kept playing it right up the aisles and out the back door, while crowd offered up a raucous standing ovation.