St. Albert’s Shelby Johnson is one of those rare multi-talented teens who has racked up enough experiences to make most people blush.
Playing soccer, baseball and basketball in her junior years, the Grade 11 Archbishop MacDonald High student has also studied violin for 13 years and was at one time a member of the Edmonton Youth Orchestra. She has latched on to the flute and is also studying percussion as part of the Archbishop MacDonald band.
Well known in local music circles for her violin performances at the Rotary Festival, Johnson received a call to play as the opening act for Five of a Kind, a brass ensemble featured at the St. Albert Music Recital Series on Saturday, Feb. 4 at Don’s Piano Showroom.
“I was quite shocked when I got the call,” says Johnson who promptly set about polishing three works for flute.
Her opener is Arno Babadjanyan Humoresque, a modern piece inscribed with many tricks and Antonio Vivaldi’s two-movement Sonata in F Major.
Closing the set is Habanero from George Bizet’s Carmen.
“It’s seductive and coquettish. It’s fun and goes into these crazy lines. It has real flair, but it’s the hardest for me ’cause I don’t do seductive very well. I’m classically trained,” she laughs.
Johnson’s combo is slated to fit seamlessly with Five of Kind’s diverse program that floats through the eras combining Renaissance, Baroque, classical works, marches, jazz standards and popular songs.
Trumpet players and regular mainstays Wendy Grasdahl and Clarence Samuel conceived the quintet in 1994.
“We wanted to put together a small brass chamber ensemble. Most brass musicians get together to play a gig and then disappear. We wanted to have a group to practice with on a regular basis so we could become a tight ensemble,” Grasdahl explains.
To get used to each other’s playing style, the ensemble rehearsed straight-ahead Renaissance works and gradually over the last 17 years has evolved into more complex classical, jazz and folk pieces.
Grasdahl and Samuelson still lead the charge along with trombone player Eila Peterson, horn player Laura Snyder and tuba player Dave Wiley of the Royal Canadian Artillery Band.
The quintet is also bringing in an extra trombonist, Chris Miller, for Ballet in Brass.
“This work has taken small bits of ballet dances and stretched it out of its normal form. It’s not quite as predictable. It’s just fun music,” Grasdahl says.
Concertgoers can expect a 90-minute concert with two sets.
“Most people think brass just plays fanfares. But there’s some beautiful, lyrical sounds you’ve never heard before and you’ll get to hear a wide spectrum from Renaissance to jazz to modern. It’s an evening full of energy, a great way to spend Saturday night.”
Five of a Kind
With special guest Shelby Johnson
Saturday, Feb. 4 at 7:30 p.m.
Don’s Piano Showroom
8 Riel Dr.
Tickets: $25/adults; $20/students, seniors, vailable at Don’s Piano, 780-459-5525 and Art Gallery of St. Albert, 780-460-4310