GREENVILLE — The members of the Canadian Brass professional quintet, collectively, possess years of professional music education and experience that make them the main-stage attraction that hundreds of spectators witnessed last Thursday evening during the 2013 Ash Cultural Event concert at Greenville High School.
Last Friday, the five musicians took a day away from their concert tour to perform two clinics for students involved in Greenville’s high school and middle school music programs, thanks to the Greenville Area Community Foundation and Ash Community Improvement Fund.
Students gathered into the high school’s performing arts center where they watched and listened in awe as the group performed various classical pieces and even their own rendition of The Beatles’ “Penny Lane.”
For Greenville High School senior trombone player Jared Downing, 17, the clinic was an event he won’t forget.
“It was jaw-dropping,” Downing said. “How in tune they are, their intonation, it’s unlike anything you normally hear. You play your entire life, I started in fourth grade, and you want to get better all the time. Then you see these guys play and it reminds you how much further you have to go.”
Dr. Charles “Chuck” Daellenbach, who founded the group in 1970, answered questions along with his fellow musicians on topics ranging from how they originally chose their instruments to what goes into composing your own original piece of music.
“It’s definitely part of our mission,” Daellenbach said of speaking to the students. “The likelihood of any of these kids playing in college is likely slim, and actually becoming a professional is doubtful, but the life skills they are learning through this are just sky high.”
Trumpet player Chris Coletti, a member of the group since 2009, said he was impressed with the students’ questions and attentive attitudes toward the music.
“It was clear right off the bat that the school has a very advanced music program,” Coletti said. “The students’ questions were great, which made it really engaging for us. We’ve been in their shoes, we started in public school, so it was nice to be back in this environment.”
Trombone player Achilles Liarmakopoulos, a native of Greece and newest member of the group, said playing in front of high school students is a solid reminder of how he was originally inspired to seek becoming a professional musician.
“It’s amazing, we’ve all been there,” Liarmakopoulos said. “When I first saw Canadian Brass I was only 11 years old. I can remember meeting them and talking to them. It was my inspiration.”
Greenville High School junior tuba player James Irish, 16, was especially impressed with the ensemble’s ability to come together as one group from different parts of the world.
“I think it’s really cool that people from different countries can come together and have a common denominator like music to connect with,” Irish said. “They are on a whole different level. It really gives you something to aspire too.”
The group spent an hour in front each group of students from both schools hoping that several of them would walk away with a new focus on their own musical careers.
Greenville High School Director of Bands Susan Gould believes her students will benefit greatly from the visit by Canadian Brass.
“They loved it,” Gould said. “For our students, it’s another motivator. They’ve heard me, they’ve heard their parents, but when they see and hear someone else who does what they want to do so well, it gives them a whole different inspiration to play and practice.”