The original challenge was to develop an audience for an ensemble of brass players that, at the time, had no standing in the concert world. What set Canadian Brass apart from all other performing artists in 1970 was the relentless search for repertoire that was both loved by its performers and embraced by a growing brass audience.
The musical experiences of the members along with the interests and wishes of audiences informed the programs that the group created ranging from Bach, Handel, Vivaldi, Joplin, Gershwin and Ellington, to ballet, opera and Schickele. The ensemble never ignored an opportunity to relate to its audience which brought the Brass to international attention. They were at first criticized for talking to audiences and now take pride in seeing the entire concert world embracing engagement as a fundamental element of performance.
The Brass has averaged two and a half full length recordings per year of its 52 years of existence for a total of 138 recordings. They have received a combined total of 24 Grammy and Juno nominations and won the German Echo Award for Goldberg Variations. A North American group taking Bach back to Europe and winning approval at the highest level was a crowning achievement! Most recently during the Covid era the Brass created another award-winning recording, Canadiana. The album features unique arrangements of many Canadian superstars including Joni Mitchell, k.d. lang, Bruce Cockburn, Drake and DeadMau5.
Education continues to be at the forefront of Canadian Brassā yearly activities. There are over one million Canadian Brass quintet repertoire books in the hands of students in every country with a strong brass tradition. Between Hal Leonard Music Publishing distributing its 800 unique individual brass titles and SmartMusic now making available some 76 titles for mixed ensemble use, the Brass continues to shape the future of chamber music ventures.
For a comprehensive Canadian Brass biography, blend together the complete history of any random five musician ensemble and it will yield a year in the world of Canadian Brass. āWeāve created ballets, played Carnegie Hall, toured China during its 1977 reopening, and performed in front of five prime ministers, but most importantly performed for more than ten million friends, family and audiences worldwide so far. We did all this so we could play Bach,ā says tubaist & founder Chuck Daellenbach.