Boston Brass brings friendly, informal performance to WAC

Boston Brass brings friendly, informal performance to WAC


It’s a categorically Christmas performance when the world class Boston Brass brings their show “Christmas Bells Are Swingin’” to the Walton Arts Center on Dec. 8. The brass quintet kicked off their holiday tour in Arkansas just before Thanksgiving with a concert in Conway.

“We are excited to be [in Fayetteville] because this is going to be our only solo holiday concert,” reveals trumpet player and founding member Jeff Conner. For the rest of the shows on the group’s winter tour, Boston Brass were joined by the Brass All-Stars for a big band concert experience, making the WAC performance the only date with just the five-piece.

“With the brass quintet, we explore every single range dynamically. So you’re going to hear lots of sauce. We’re going to tear the roof down,” Conner says emphatically of the ensemble’s music. “For us, it’s all about sound, and what we call the meltdown of sound, that gives the music a Boston Brass signature sound. That’s one of the things that makes us unique.”

The musicians will play plenty of holiday favorites, but all the arrangements Boston Brass performs are written by current or former group members, Conner explains. That exclusivity of the content they present gives the group a signature sound, he shares.

“We’re very informal,” he adds of the show’s atmosphere. “I think when people hear the words chamber music, it’s almost off-putting in a way. And all chamber music means is one person on a part. So, a jazz trio is chamber music, a jazz band is chamber music. It’s one on a part; that’s all chamber music means, for our definition of it. So in terms of how we perform, how we interact with the audience, we’re in the lobby during intermission and after the concert so we have the opportunity to talk to audiences. We’re not closed off and just playing in a little box, letting people look over our shoulders and listen as we go, ‘We’ll let you peek into what we’re doing.’ We’re open in how we even set up on stage; our instruments are going right out to the audience, and you’re going to hear us.”

The Dec. 8 concert won’t be exclusively Christmas tunes, but the audience will recognize all the pieces, Conner assures. The evening will begin with the fast, exciting Argentinian piece the group opens with year-round as the perfect introduction to Boston Brass. A familiar cantata by Bach will also make an appearance, but Conner promises the evening will be “90% holiday music,” with a mix of classical and lighter jazz fare.

“We have a couple new arrangements that we’re going to be playing for this concert. Our tuba player William (Russell) is doing a brand new arrangement for the quintet of ‘The Grinch.’ We have a beautiful arrangement of ‘Silent Night’ that our horn player, Chris Castellanos, did that’s based off the wonderful vocal group Pentatonix. Every piece on the program people are going to recognize,” he shares.

One of the fun parts of the show for Conner is also “the members are going to have the opportunity to share stories [from] when we grew up — and some are pretty funny that we get to tell. So we really have an opportunity to share not only some great holiday music, but you get to know the personalities of the members of the group.

“In those two hours, we try to make the world a better place. That’s our goal. And we want to bring the audience along on that ride with us.”



Boston Brass

‘Christmas Bells are Swingin”

WHEN — 2 p.m. Dec. 8

WHERE — Walton Arts Center in Fayetteville

COST — $12-$25


Categories: Music