Canadian Brass

Canadian Brass will perform as part of the Verona Area Performing Arts Series Friday, April 5.

Jeff Nelson, French horn player for the Canadian Brass, can’t seem to get enough of the quintet.

He’s been a member of the brass chamber ensemble three different times since 2001 and said in a phone interview last week that performing in Canadian Brass is “still my dream.”

Nelson and the rest of the five-piece ensemble will demonstrate the allure when they perform in the Verona Area Performing Arts Series at 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 5.

The Canadian Brass is widely recognized as one of the world’s premier brass ensembles.

“They are the gold standard,” VAPAS Board of Directors co-president Carolyn White told the Press last year.

The group formed in 1970 in Toronto and has recorded more than 100 CDs and DVDs since 1975, according to its website.

Nelson initially joined the group in 2001, left in 2004 to further develop his career, rejoined the group three years later and left again after a few years to begin raising a family. He returned to the ensemble last year.

“I was home for 8 years, and one day my wife looked at me and said, ‘It was great having you home,’” the father of two young kids said, with a laugh, during a phone interview last week.

“We’re on the road about a third of the year, and every year we do long tours of Europe and Japan,” he explained. “That makes it hard to be home much.”

Nelson explained that with his family established and growing, he was ready to return to the Canadian Brass, which he had dreamt of joining since first seeing the group perform when he was 12 years old.

“It’s still my dream,” he said. “The first time I saw the group, I fell in love with the idea of performing classical music on stage before an audience.”

Tuba player Chuck Dallenbach and trombonist Gene Watts formed Canadian Brass in 1970. Watts retired in 2010, and the ensemble now consists of trumpeters Chris Coletti and Caleb Hudson, Achilles Liarmakopoulos on trombone, Dallenbach, and Nelson on French horn.

The group has been described as one of the most popular brass ensembles in the world by the Washington Post.

Nelson said their show here will consist of music “from Bach to the Beatles and everything in between.”

“We like to mix it up, so we’ll play a wide variety of styles, including Dixieland jazz,” he added. “But Bach, and particularly ‘Little Fugue in G Minor,’ is at the center of our repertoire.”

Another favorite is “Flight of the Bumblebee,” composed by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, Nelson noted.

He observed that after almost five decades, Dallenbach “sets the tone” for the ensemble as its leader and most experienced musician. He said Canadian Brass shows are filled with fun, spontaneity and audience interaction. Its members are friends who share camaraderie on stage, he added, but they never compromise the quality of the performance.

“I think our approach is the best way to share a stage,” Nelson said. “Chuck sets the tone for the ensemble, and the camaraderie has become part of the group’s culture.

“We have a lot of fun and like to have a sense of humor on stage,” he continued, “but we never make the music the joke. We have reverence for the composers and the music, and we’re able to strike a balance between being relatable and performing the music, which really is high art.”

The show will be held at the Verona Area Performing Arts Center, 300 Richard St., and costs $32 for general admission. Seniors receive a discounted rate of $30, and tickets for students 18 and younger are $10.

For information about the performance, visit

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