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Buzz Brass salutes Christmas

A musical gift from Montreal's top brass quintet
Buzz Brass gives their salute to Christmas at the Arden Theatre on Tuesday, Dec. 5. From left to right meet Sylvain Arsenau, Jason de Carufel, Sylvain Lapointe, Pascal Lafrenière and Frédéric Gagnon. MICHEL BÉRARD

Over the course of 22 years, Buzz Brass has received critical acclaim and attracted more than 350,000 music fans across North America, Europe and China. 

Just in time for the holidays the Montreal-based quintet is making a first-time appearance at the Arden Theatre in a special concert titled Christmas with Buzz Brass on Tuesday, Dec. 5. 

Trained in classical technique, the five musicians will play a series of seasonal favourites reinterpreted through trumpet, horn and trombone. Expect to hear excerpts from Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite, Leroy Anderson’s Sleigh Ride, Franz Gruber’s Stille Nacht (Silent Night) and Mel Torme’s The Christmas Song – all tunes from their 2021 Christmas album. 

Although 90 per cent of the concert is a series of holiday instrumentals, the fivesome plan to set aside any perceived stuffiness and inject laughter into the evening by singing 12 Days of Christmas

“We will sing and play it. It’s very funny. The audience will enjoy the humour,” said Sylvain Lapointe, Buzz Brass founder and trumpet. He is joined by Frédéric Gagnon (trumpet), Pascal Lafrenière (horn), Jason de Carful (trombone) and Sylvain Arsenau (bass trombone). 

When performing they are skilled in an impressive range of musical styles from Renaissance to modern jazz and folk. What adds distinction to the quintet’s repertoire are the bold yet elegant arrangements and fresh compositions. Lapointe adds the combination of brass and Christmas creates a quasi-celestial vibe. 

“Brass is the sound of angels and celebrations. Brass is happy and sad and shiny. You can put brass on a Christmas tree and enjoy it.” 

It all began in 2002 when Lapointe completed his musical training at the Université de Montréal’s Music Faculty. Eager to embark on a fully professional career, he invited fellow graduates to join him and plunged full-time into creating material for Buzz Brass. 

The first concert was Legends of the Bewitched, three legends adapted from a Quebecois folk legend involving romance and an occult pact with the devil. Instead of wearing traditional two piece suits, the quintet were garbed in lumberjack attire. 

“We wanted to mix music and theatre. We wanted to create something special.” 

Its success was immediate. The theatrical production played an excess of 400 shows before it was retired. By 2012, the quintet created The Viking, a Scandinavian legend of a dragon slayer and in 2017, they introduced the zany Class Circus.

Perhaps their most successful concert was The History of Music, a theatrical odyssey that explores Occidental music from prehistory to modern day. It was introduced in 2004 with more than 955 shows to date, and LaPointe attributes its success to musical chemistry. 

“It’s simple. We all love music. We love to play brass. We’re a mix between playing solo and playing in an orchestra. We’re five soloists trying to make something happen.” 

In the past two decades, the mature ensemble travelled down many roads. Currently, the fivesome is on the first leg of a tour across Western Canada and will showcase their vibrant personality leaving St. Albert audiences feeling warm, nostalgic and full of festive fun.  

Christmas with Buzz Brass is on Tuesday, Dec. 5 at 7:30 p.m. at the Arden Theatre. Tickets are $39.25. Call 780-459-1542 or online at 

Anna Borowiecki

About the Author: Anna Borowiecki

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