Have you heard the one where a tuba player, a trombone player, a French horn player and two trumpet players walk into a high school theatre?
There’s no silly punchline here, but there is a great afternoon of music, education and fun planned for Sunday, Nov. 3, when the Foothills Brass Quintet performs at the Chuck Mobley Theatre at Correlieu Secondary School.
Foothills Brass Quintet is a group of highly accomplished and versatile musicians from across North America, and the group is returning to Quesnel this weekend as part of the Quesnel and District Community Arts Council’s Children’s and Family Concert Series.
Founded in 1981 in Calgary, the Foothills Brass Quintet is dedicated to exceptional artistic presentation, meaningful educational activities and innovative leadership in the artistic community, according to the group’s website. A Yamaha performing ensemble, Foothills Brass presents up to 200 events each year in concert halls, universities, classrooms and cathedrals.
“Foothills Brass has built its reputation around an eclectic repertoire, which enhances an audience’s ability to appreciate and understand music,” according to the quintet’s biography. “The ensemble has an established tradition of balancing well-known with unfamiliar repertoire. Canadian works are routinely included, encouraging audiences to become better acquainted with the artistry of Canada. Canadian composers Shelton Brooks, Herbert Clarke, Quentin Doolittle Malcolm and Forsyth are featured, as well as commissioned work from Canadian composers Stewart Grant, John Stetch and Tobin Stokes.”
Foothills Brass has seen many excellent musicians throughout the years, with some members actively involved for more than 30 years. The ensemble tends to consist of five to seven members at a time.
Chris Morrison of Calgary says some of the Foothills Brass members played together in the symphony orchestra even before this quintet got together. Since forming, the Foothills Brass Quartet has toured all the Canadian provinces, across the United States and overseas.
Morrison says they do a lot of concerts in schools, and this Sunday’s concert will be a bit of a combination of the school concerts and public concerts.
The Foothills Brass Quintet is two trumpets, a French horn, a trombone and a tuba.
“We play a wide variety of music, from classical to jazz, Dixieland, movie themes and kids’ tunes,” said Morrison. “Anything we like that’s fun to play and fun to listen to, that’s what we play. Our motto is ‘serious fun’ because we take the music very seriously, but we’ll always have some fun with it.”
Morrison says family concerts like this Nov. 3 one are very kid-friendly and interactive.
“We’ll have kids up volunteering for various things, and there’s a little bit of educational content, but only the fun side of it, like we show them how to build an instrument out of rubber hose and plumbing fixtures and things,” he said. “We’ve got a long, straight trumpet with a flag on it like you see in the movies, and we play some things on that. We’ll do movie themes like Star Wars and Little Mermaid and maybe play some Pink Panther.”
Morrison says the great thing about movie themes like Pink Panther and Star Wars is children love them, and they’ve been around long enough that their parents love them too.
Morrison has been playing with the Foothills Brass Quintet since the very beginning and hasn’t lost the sense of fun after all these years.
“I really enjoy the music,” he said. “We tend to play stuff that we enjoy playing, so it’s nice to have that choice. If you’re working for somebody else, you don’t always have that choice. I really enjoy interacting with the audience. Even if you’re doing 15 school shows in a week, it’s 15 different schools, and every time you go in, it’s a different audience, a different challenge, it’s a different dynamic — and it’s the same with adults. The audience is different. How do we make this one fun for everybody?”
Morrison says he also enjoys travelling.
The Foothills Brass Quintet has been to Quesnel a few times in the past, and Morrison is excited to return.
“We’ve always enjoyed coming to Quesnel; I know the hospitality is just great that they give us,” he said. “It will be a light, fun time with some familiar music and some unfamiliar music, but lots of good music.”
The Foothills Brass Quintet concert takes place Sunday, Nov. 3 at 2 p.m. at the Chuck Mobley Theatre at Correlieu Secondary School. Pizza will be for sale at 1:30 p.m.
Tickets for the show are $10 each or $40 for a family of five and $5 for each extra person. Tickets are available at Bo-Peep, Circle “S” Western Wear, the Quesnel Visitor Centre, the Quesnel and District Arts and Recreation Centre and at the door.
For more information about the Quesnel and District Community Arts Council’s Children’s and Family Concerts, visit quesnelarts.com.