New Classical Tracks: An Animated Holiday Celebration

by Julie Amacher, Minnesota Public Radio
December 23, 2013
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St. Paul, Minn. — Canadian Brass - Christmas Time Is Here - Steinway and Sons 30027

"I'm probably the luckiest guy in the tuba world, maybe the brass world, maybe even the music world, to have this opportunity to go out on stage every night with fine players and really just have fun making music."

So says Chuck Daellenbach, tuba player extraordinaire, and founding member of the Canadian Brass. In 1970, when he formed this quintet, the challenge was to feature arrangements and music repertoire that people would love as much as the musicians did. More than 40 years later, that tradition continues, this time on a new holiday recording titled Christmas Time is Here, which pays tribute to some of the most popular animated specials created for the holidays.

Trumpeter Caleb Hudson, the newest member of the Canadian Brass, says many of the new arrangements on this recording were created especially for the ensemble by former Canadian Brass trumpeter Brandon Ridenour. "We feel like this Christmas album has a very warm quality to it, which can be added to any family Christmas CD rotation. We've showcased a few of Vince Guaraldi's works from A Charlie Brown Christmas on this CD arranged by Brandon. I think these arrangements bring a whole new perspective to Guaraldi's Charlie Brown tunes."

Caleb joined the Canadian Brass eight months ago after graduating from the Juilliard School of Music. His world-class talent really soars on "The Angel Choir and the Trumpeter." "This piece is a feature for the piccolo trumpet, which is a tiny trumpet half the size of a normal B-flat trumpet," Caleb explains, "and it just gives a very transparent, bright, sparkling color to the sound. It starts with a solo cadenza and then it goes into this very beautiful chorale-like piece with trumpet obbligato on top. We feel like the piccolo trumpet brings a special shimmer to the Christmas spirit. So it's a privilege to be on that track."

Chuck Daellenbach says Caleb's trumpet also adds something very special to another familiar carol, "What Child Is This." "It's a beautiful opportunity to hear a very standard Christmas piece but done in such a captivating style — technically, it should be exceedingly challenging, yet it's just smooth as butter. It's so pretty. That's a track that has really stood out not only for me, but as I've talked to other people who listen to the CD — it's really stood out. And it's a capsule picture of why we couldn't resist begging Caleb to join our group."

The Canadian Brass is always looking for interesting ways to present music that will be fun to listen to, yet will also give people a deeper level of understanding of the music; Chuck Daellenbach says there are numerous examples on this new holiday recording. "We've got a work called 'Bach's Bells'," he explains, "which is a combination of a cantata work that's usually heard on solo violin, put together with 'Carol of the Bells.' So the music itself is quite fun. And again, it's a piece that, without any prior knowledge of the music itself, holds together as a really lovely piece of music. And if you happen to be familiar with the violin part, it gets even more interesting."

Each member of the Canadian Brass has a hidden talent. When you listen to "I Saw Three Ships," you'll hear trumpeter Chris Coletti whistle his way through one verse. Chuck Daellenbach says Chris actually has other hidden talents that find their way into "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch." "I think our hidden talents, we bring right out on the stage. Chris can sing like an opera singer in the soprano range, which is quite interesting. And on the Christmas recording you'll hear Chris singing at his highest and lowest, as a matter of fact."

Caleb says Chuck has a hidden talent as well, and it's become a tradition during "Frosty the Snowman." "Well, Frosty is a feature for Chuck. And if you've ever seen us perform this live — you'll see that because of the jazz nature of the arrangement, things get pretty hot on the stage and you know what happens to Frosty when he gets hot. And Chuck embodies that as he melts on stage and kind of crumples behind his tuba while still playing and at the end, he's just a pile of melted frosty."

For some hot, new arrangements of Christmas classics, check out Christmas Time is Here with the Canadian Brass.

Canadian Brass CD sampler: Christmas Time is Here

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