The Canadian Brass, widely acclaimed as one of the most popular brass ensembles in the world, visited John Champe High School in Aldie recently to conduct a workshop for Loudoun County band students.
About 700 students from 10 middle and high schools attended the May 29 workshop, where the ensemble demonstrated diverse musical styles, including early Renaissance music and a Peruvian tango.
The musicians also gave brief demonstrations of their instruments and told the students about their influences and inspirations.
The Canadian Brass, which has recorded more than 100 CDs and DVDs since the group was founded in 1970, also performed in a joint concert with the Loudoun Symphonic Winds that evening.
The performances were organized by Gilbert Corella, musical director of the Loudoun Community Band, a group that includes the Loudoun Symphonic Winds and other ensembles. Corella said he hoped that bringing in a well-known musical group for a workshop and concert would increase the visibility of his organization. He also wanted to build a partnership between the community band and the Loudoun public schools.
“My passion is music education,” Corella said. “This is our way of giving something to the community and also demonstrating to the community that we are truly a community group in all regards.”
Corella, who retired in 2010 as a tuba player for the U.S. Air Force Band, used his contacts to arrange the workshop. Among them was tuba player Chuck Daellenbach, a founding member of the Canadian Brass.
“The music world is very small,” Corella said. “Because I knew Chuck, it just seemed like the obvious choice to try them first.”
The workshop opened with members of the quintet slowly parading down a side aisle playing the spiritual “Just a Closer Walk With Thee.” They picked up the tempo as they approached the stage, to the applause of the students.
For a Renaissance-era piece, four members of the quintet positioned themselves at the corners of the auditorium, while Daellenbach played his tuba seated in the center of the room, surrounded by students.
Trumpet player Caleb Hudson demonstrated several instruments of varying sizes and played the smallest, a piccolo trumpet, in a performance of Fats Waller’s “Handful of Keys.”
The workshop concluded after Daellenbach invited the students to come forward to record video of the band performing Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s fast-tempoed “Flight of the Bumblebee.” The students’ videos would be edited into a montage, he said.
Pedram Samipour, 18, a senior at John Champe High School, said he liked the way the Canadian Brass incorporated the students into the workshop.
“I’ve been following this group for a long time now, and I think that it was even better live than all the recordings I’ve [heard],” Samipour said.
Samuel Hagood, 18, a senior trumpet player at John Champe, said it was a “once-in-a-lifetime experience.” He particularly enjoyed listening to the piccolo trumpet.
John Champe band director Jonathan Phillip said he had seen the group on television when he was young. He remembered watching while Daellenbach, on tuba, tried to break the world’s record for the fastest performance of “Flight of the Bumblebee.” Phillip said that experience was one of the reasons he decided to play tuba.
“It’s a wonderful constant that people will say to us, ‘You’re the reason I play tuba . . . or trombone,’” Daellenbach said after the workshop. “It’s gratifying to know you had that kind of effect on other people.”
Corella intends to continue to try to bring high-level musical groups into the schools.
“We hope to make this an annual event,” he said.
Barnes is a freelance writer.