Isthmus Brass Christmas
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John Stevens, conductor
John Aley, Douglas Lindsey, Dave Cooper and Jon Schipper, trumpets
Ricardo Almeida, horn
Mark Hetzler, Dylan Chmura-Moore, Mike Dugan, trombones
Mark Hoelscher, bass Trombone
Mike Forbes, tuba
Keith Lienert, percussion.
With special guests Demondrae Thurman, euphonium
Anthony Di Sanza, percussion
‘‘What a terrific Christmas album! Named for the strip of land between lakes Mendota and Monona, Isthmus Brass draws most of its members from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and most of the rest from other UW campuses. The nicely varied program includes traditional Christmas carols and pieces, festive pops orchestra-style works, and big-band-style selections, all in winsome arrangements and played superbly.
Of the eight settings by former Philip Jones Brass Ensemble arranger, Roger Harvey, I was especially captivated by the driving, biting 'Fum, Fum, Fum' and the toasty warm and not at all bleak 'In the Bleak Midwinter.' 'Silent Night' has some very high and wonderfully secure piccolo trumpet playing, and 'I Wonder as I Wander' is played by the outstanding euphonium soloist Demondrae Thurman. The program opener is Harvey's bright arrangement of 'On Chistmas Night' (also known as the 'Sussex Carol'), and his 'Festive Cheer' is a medley of four Christmas-season favorites.
Several arrangements are contributed by IB members, including three by tubist Mike Forbes. His Fantasy on 'Ukrainian Bell Carol' (better known as 'Carol of the Bells') is a remarkably creative setting for trombone quintet, his 'Pie Jesu' (from Andrew Lloyd Webber's Requiem) is made lovely by trumpeters John Aley and Douglas Lindsey, and his 'Mele Kalikimaka' is a George Roberts-style bass trombone solo by Mark Hoelscher. Lindsey's 'Riu Riu Chiu' is a well-constructed look at a Spanish-dance from the 16th Century. Trumpeter David Cooper turned the brass ensemble into a big band for 'It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year' and 'Santa Baby.'
The playing is skillful, expressive, and infectiously enthusiastic. I've heard lots of Christmas brass albums over the years—this is one of the best.’‘
-Barry Kilpatrick, American Record Guide
Under the direction of brass-icon, John Stevens, and comprised of the finest professional brass players in the Midwest, the ISTHMUS BRASS is Wisconsin’s premiere large brass ensemble. Here they present some of the best-loved Christmas carols that transcend national boundaries, language barriers and the passing of historical eras. Presented with a powerful brass arsenal with wonderful sound, this recording is fantastic and makes a highlighted addition to any Holiday music collection!
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On Christmas Night
Fum, Fum, Fum
In the Bleak Midwinter
Riu Riu Chiu
What Child Is This
I Saw Three Ships
I Wonder as I Wander
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Format Available Single CD
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