Ring in the holiday season with the bright and beautiful sounds of big brass as Festive Brass makes a stop in Duncan for their 2023 holiday tour ‘Reindeer Games’. It slides onto the Cowichan Performing Arts Centre stage at 7:30 p.m on Dec. 19.
Joining them will be the Cowichan Vocal Collective. Festive Brass’s unique take on the holiday season with what a press release describes as their brilliant jazz and often quirky arrangements coupled with humorous repartee and personality, will have audience members feeling nostalgic, fully festive and as warm as hot cup of Christmas cocoa.
These talented musicians first got down to brass tacks 20 years ago when the world famous Butchart Gardens made the decision to add live music to their Christmas lights display for patrons to enjoy on their stroll to engage the senses. The stars of Festive Brass were soon born. The core members of Festive Brass are Jonathan Eng on drums, Robert Fraser on bass trombone, Nick La Riviere on trombone, while Stevan Paranosic, Bruce Hurn and David Flello all breathe life into the trumpet and flugelhorn. The core four — Paranosic, Hurn, La Riviere, and Fraser — have played the gardens for more than 14 years. Trumpeters Hurn and Flello have both shared the stage with talent such as The Temptations, Rob McConnell, and David Foster, while Paranosic is the principal trumpet with the Vancouver Island Symphony.
“We expanded to the current sextet in 2019 on the cusp of the pandemic and survived and thrived,” said Paranosic. “For this tour we are also welcoming some fantastic musicians to add to our rhythm section with Nico Rhodes on piano and Nick Mintenko on bass.”
Just like Santa, this sensational sextet will be making several stops including Sidney at the Mary Winspear Centre on Dec. 14, the ADSS Theatre in Port Alberni on Dec. 15, the Parksville Knox United Church on Dec. 16., and St. George’s United Church in Courtenay, with their final stop in Victoria at the Farquar Auditorium on Dec. 21. All concerts will begin at 7:30 p.m. and will have local choirs from each area joining them on stage as well as an all-star rhythm ensemble.
“The choirs really are the perfect foil to our brass sound and shenanigans,” said Paranosic. “Nothing stirs up emotion during the holiday season like the sound of a beautiful choir singing not only traditional carols but much-loved holiday classics. Christmas is such a wonderful community builder and we look forward to not only hearing the local choir talent but meeting their wonderful audience community.
“Cowichan Vocal Collective is a special treat because, although they are less in numbers compared to some choirs, they are high on talent and ability. Brass and voice meld so well – it’s a truly full emotional impact.”
Paranosic, who considers himself an amusingly eccentric maestro of Christmas brass music madness, takes great joy in crafting new and fun ways of presenting classic holiday songs. Festive Brass will bring much musical merriment to the masses with their unique swing on holiday standards such as Good Swing Wenceslas, a soulful Silent Night, sentimental treasures from A Charlie Brown Christmas and their infamous twisted ‘Rudolph Variations’, hence the name of their holiday tour. Tickets are $38 and can be purchased in person from the box office at the Cowichan Performing Arts Centre in Duncan or online at www.cowichanpac.ca or www.festivebrass.ca.
“I can’t think of any other time of year where music plays such a big part in the celebration of the season,” said Paranosic. “Carols and songs are so embedded in the tradition and stir up so many feelings of nostalgia and happiness. Watching and hearing young children and much older grandparents join together in song is a beautiful part of the season. Christmas particularly draws families and communities close together, and it also brings musicians closer together too.
“We all share stories of our first time delighting an audience with a new fun arrangement or seeing an emotional reaction to a carol that triggers a lovely memory. We like to believe that Festive Brass audiences always leave our shows on a holiday high. That magical feeling of ‘fun’ is a different experience than other seasonal concert traditions. We challenge any of our listeners to not leave with a smile — a Festive Brass show has something for all ages and is a wonderful celebration of all things Christmas.”