College of Visual and Performing Arts
George Mason University
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George Mason University

Friends of the Center for the Arts: Did You Know?

November 26, 2018

Canadian Brass

Canadian Brass returns to George Mason’s Center for the Arts Concert Hall on Saturday, December 15, at 8 p.m.


The Soweto Gospel Choir comes to the George Mason Center for the Arts on Sunday, December 2, at 2 p.m., with an inspiring program of gospel music including music for the coming holiday season.  

The Soweto Gospel Choir is an outstanding collection of talent from throughout Soweto in Johannesburg, South Africa.  It has won many awards including five Grammys and an Emmy.

DID YOU KNOW...The Soweto Gospel Choir was formed by Beverly Bryer, the choir’s Executive Producer/Director? She has been involved in the entertainment industry for over 35 years, working with some of South Africa’s premier recording artists.  In August 2002, Beverly formed her own company, Eventsco, and was approached by Australian producers/promoters to form an African gospel choir, now known as the Soweto Gospel Choir.

DID YOU KNOW... Shimmy Jiyane is a choreographer, choir master, tenor, dancer, and founding member of the choir?  As a dancer, Shimmy realized his dream by dancing in shows with Tina Turner and South African stars like Vicki Samson and choreographer Adele Blank. Jiyane has been choreographing Soweto Gospel Choir for many years, and his imagination and knowledge of African dance has played an integral part in the success of the choir’s performances. Although initially brought into the choir as a dancer, Jiyane has become a lead tenor with a hauntingly sweet voice.

DID YOU KNOW...The name Soweto is an acronym for South West Townships?  Soweto is an urban settlement or ‘township' in South Africa, southwest of Johannesburg, with a population of over 1.8 million. Soweto was created in the 1930s as a result of South African segregation. The government did this by using the infamous 'Urban Areas Act' in 1923.

DID YOU KNOW...The name Soweto, was first used in 1963, and within a short period of time, following the 1976 uprising of students in the township (protesting the use of the language Afrikaans in the schools), the name became internationally known?  In 2010, Soweto, South Africa's oldest township, hosted the FIFA Soccer World Cup final and the attention of more than a billion soccer spectators from all over the world was focused on Soweto. Nelson Mandela lived at 8115 Vilakazi Street in Orlando West, his home in Soweto, for many years.

DID YOU KNOW...Soweto Gospel Choir supports many charitable activities? It is an Ambassador for Nelson Mandela’s “46664 Campaign” to help raise global awareness of HIV/AIDS, and has performed in Cape Town, Johannesburg, London and New York concerts with artists such as Peter Gabriel, Bono, Queen, Jimmy Cliff, Johnny Clegg, Eddie Grant, Amy Winehouse, Queen Latifah, Wyclef Jean, Aretha Franklin, and Stevie Wonder. Soweto Gospel Choir has established its own AIDS orphans foundation, Nkosi’s Haven Vukani, to assist organizations that receive little or no funding.

DID YOU KNOW...Johannesburg had its real beginning when gold was discovered in 1886 by George Harrison, an Australian prospector?  On September 20 of that year, when President Paul Kruger proclaimed the findings open for public digging, Johannesburg was founded.  The city arose from the dusty veld, stranded in the center of the country, with no river or seafront to assist in the development of trade. Despite this, it is today Africa’s powerhouse and the economic capital of South Africa.

DID YOU KNOW...Although Johannesburg is the economic capital, the South African government is in three different cities?  Cape Town is the legislative capital, Pretoria is the administrative capital, and Bloemfontein (Fountain of Flowers) is the judicial capital of South Africa.


Canadian Brass returns to George Mason’s Center for the Arts Concert Hall on Saturday, December 15, at 8 p.m., with their enormously popular show A Canadian Brass Christmas.

With an international reputation as one of the most popular brass ensembles today, Canadian Brass has truly earned the distinction of “the world’s most famous brass group.”  The hallmarks of any Canadian Brass performance are entertainment, spontaneity, virtuosity and, most of all, fun – but never at the expense of the music.

DID YOU KNOW...Canadian Brass is a brass quintet formed in 1970 in Toronto, Ontario by Charles Daellenbach (tuba) and Gene Watts (trombone), using horn player Graeme Page and trumpeters Stuart Laughton and Bill Phillips to complete the quintet?  As of 2018, the quintet is composed of trumpet players Caleb Hudson and Chris Coletti, horn player Bernhard Scully, trombone player Achilles Liarmakopoulos, and tuba player Charles Daellenbach. 

DID YOU KNOW...The varied Canadian Brass repertoire features brass standards as well as a wide-ranging library of original arrangements? These include the works of Renaissance and Baroque masters, Classical works, marches, holiday favorites, ragtime, Dixieland, Latin, jazz, big band, Broadway, and Christian music, as well as popular songs and standards.

DID YOU KNOW...Over the 48-year history of the Canadian Brass, 25 different musicians have been members of the quintet: 14 trumpet players, 7 horn players, 3 trombone players, and ONE tuba player (founder Charles Daellenbach).

DID YOU KNOW...The contemporary brass quintet appeared in the late 1940s, created by the Chicago Brass Quintet? However, it was in 1970, with the founding of Canadian Brass, that the brass quintet was finally accepted as a legitimate member of the chamber music world. Two members of the Chicago Brass Quintet can be credited with helping plant the seed for the commercial and musical success of the brass quintet medium: Arnold Jacobs, a tuba player of the Chicago Brass Quintet who taught the two Canadian Brass founders, Daellenbach and Watts, and Renold Schilke, a trumpet player also in the Chicago Brass Quintet and a master craftsman who mentored this most successful brass ensemble in history, and successfully crafted the first matched set of gold-plated quintet brass instruments.

DID YOU KNOW...After earning a Ph.D. at the age of 25 from the Eastman School of Music, Daellenbach headed north to join the Music Faculty at the University of Toronto? His academic plans were soon derailed when he met trombonist Gene Watts. 

DID YOU KNOW...Charles Daellenbach plays a gold-plated & carbon fiber tuba?  You may have thought about carbon fiber only in relation to such things as airplanes and race cars, but it is used in a broad range of musical instruments from violins to flugelhorns and tubas.

DID YOU KNOW...Both Canadian Brass trumpeters Caleb Hudson and Chris Coletti play the piccolo trumpet as well as the regular trumpet? The piccolo trumpet is the smallest of the trumpet family, pitched one octave higher than the standard B♭ trumpet.  The modern piccolo trumpet enables players to play the difficult trumpet parts of Baroque music, such as Bach's second Brandenburg concerto and B-minor Mass.

DID YOU KNOW...Caleb Hudson, the newest member of the Canadian Brass, is known for his piccolo trumpet mastery of Bach’s famous Brandenburg Concerto No. 2?  He has performed it around the world with ensembles including Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, Orchestra of St. Luke’s, Israel Philharmonic Soloists, and Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center.

DID YOU KNOW...The piccolo trumpet solo in the Beatles' "Penny Lane," played by David Mason, introduced the instrument to pop music? Paul McCartney was dissatisfied with the initial attempts at the song's instrumental fill and was inspired to use the instrument after hearing Mason's performance in a BBC radio broadcast of the second Brandenburg Concerto and asking what the "tremendously high" trumpet was.  The piccolo trumpet was also used to play Bach's Invention No. 8 in F major (BWV 779) during the fade-out of "All You Need Is Love.”