Mission Hill Brass hosts extra special vocalist
By: Anna Borowiecki
| Posted: Saturday, Dec 14, 2013 06:00 am
A Ding Dong Christmas
Mission Hill Brass
With special guest Ellen Doty
Sunday, Dec. 15 at 7 p.m.
St. Albert United Church
20 Green Grove Dr.
Admission: at door – $15/adults; $10/youth; free for kids under 10. Advance tickets are $12 and $8. Call 780-461-2500
Christmas time is here. For some it’s about celebrating the humble birth of Jesus. For others it’s about exchanging presents with family and friends in the spirit of St. Nicholas.
Borrowing from the best of both worlds, Mission Hill Brass is blending these two views at their Ding Dong Christmas concert on Sunday, Dec. 15 at St. Albert United Church.
Steeped in holiday cheer, the 28-member brass band presents a mix of traditional carols and contemporary popular works.
For this festive concert, director of music A. Daniel Skepple, Jr. has programmed some seasonal stalwarts such as Leroy Anderson’s Sleigh Ride, Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree and O Come All Ye Faithful.
Other repertoire favourites include Gustav Holst’s In the Bleak Midwinter, a 19th century Christmas carol based on a poem by English poet Christina Rossetti, and Christmas Bolero, a William Gordon arrangement based on The Little Drummer Boy.
In addition to a lovely gift of music from the 28-member brass band, Skepple has invited pop jazz singer Ellen Doty as special guest.
The singer-songwriter just completed a western Canadian tour of 15 cities promoting her sophomore seven-track EP of original tunes That’s Love.
“I’m going to sing a mix of traditional songs and Christmas music. My new music is very exciting and I’m sure people will enjoy sharing it with us on Sunday,” says Doty in a telephone interview from her Calgary home.
The duo met when Doty, a biological sciences student at Calgary’s Kings College, played on the women’s basketball team. Skepple coached the men’s team and through their shared love of music they have maintained a friendship that eclipsed geography.
After one year at Kings, Doty subsequently moved to Ottawa’s Carleton University to study jazz performance before returning to the University of Calgary for a crack at a geology degree.
However, the earth sciences program screeched to a halt after bandleader Dave Mancini saw the sultry-voiced singer perform at her regular Friday night gig at the Fairmont Hotel.
A high-in-demand drummer, Mancini recently toured with heavyweights such as Chuck Mangione, Maynard Ferguson, Natalie Cole and Holly Cole.
Mancini invited her to New York for a brief recording stint where she took lessons at Juilliard and performed with him at the Downstairs Cabaret Theatre.
“It really opened my eyes to a career in music. He had a lot of great advice and he’s so well known as a mentor and teacher.”
But Mancini also has a reputation as a mentor with high expectations.
“He was kind but very determined and he could be hard on me which was good for me.”
Upon her return to the Great White North, Doty looked up producer Steve Dierkens, a 10-year veteran of the Disney studios. Under his inspired leadership they are recording her first full-length album.
As Doty winds her way to St. Albert, she’ll be singing some originals combined with old chestnuts such as The Christmas Song and What Are You Doing on Christmas Eve?
Dale Sommerville, president of Mission Hill Brass, caught Doty’s performance at the Yardbird Suite several weeks ago and is brimming with enthusiasm for her debut with the band.
“She has a beautiful voice, has excellent control and she’s quite the composer. Her grasp of the jazz genre is very clear with down-to-earth lyrics. She had the audience in the palm of her hand and no one left early,” said Sommerville adding she sings Stille Nacht (Silent Night) with the band.
There’s a strong buzz for this concert and Sommerville relays the band’s enthusiasm.
“There’s a great mix of pieces. In the Bleak Midwinter is a soulful piece. Bolero has a bit of pop. Carol of the Bells is challenging and Silent Night is one of my favourite classics. The mix is a fantastic combination of our band and a great jazz soloist.”