Have a brassy, classy Christmas with the Pinnacle Brass Quintet

The Pinnacle Brass Quintet played together for the first time more than five years ago, with the purest intentions.

“We were just a group of friends who wanted to get together and rehearse and have a couple laughs,” said trumpeter player John Ellis.

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“It turned out we sounded good, too.”

In the years since, the group has averaged four concerts a year — a small schedule by some standards, but impressive when you consider that each of the five members have more than one full-time gig already on their plates.

>> More Times Colonist Christmas fund stories

Ellis plays with fellow trumpeter Matt McCrady in the Naden Band of the Royal Canadian Navy, while French hornist Mike Oswald plays with the Victoria Symphony. Trombonist Scott MacInnes and tubist Eugene Dowling are both instructors in the music program at the University of Victoria.

Most members also either play in other side groups or have other musical commitments.

The Pinnacle Brass Quintet performs twice this month in concerts to benefit the Times Colonist Christmas Fund. The first show is Saturday at the Charlie White Theatre in Sidney and the second is Dec. 20 at the Church of St. John the Divine in Victoria. Tickets for each event are $20.

Even with the considerable competing interests of its members, the quintet manages to be a going concern for all involved. The group’s first Christmas recording, The Earth Shall Ring!, was released in 2010. The quintet is working on its second seasonal CD, which should be released in time for next Christmas, Ellis said.

Much of the brass music it performs is arranged by members of the group. Ellis said the quintet material that existed was either overexposed or underdeveloped, so they decided to make some of their own arrangements.

“There is lot of great repertoire out there, but it has been played by lots of groups. We wanted to write arrangements that bring out our strengths and allow us to explore the colour of our sound.”

The quintet does only four recitals a year, Ellis said, two of which are at Christmastime. The band has yet to perform its A Classy, Brassy Christmas dates this year, so fans eager to hear their original interpretations of Little Drummer Boy and ’Twas the Night Before Christmas are in luck.

The quintet is in its third year of hosting Christmas concerts. The shows later this month are the first designated charity events by Ellis and Co., which was an important step for the band, he said.

“If we can go out and do something we enjoy, and make somebody who is a little bit less fortunate have a better Christmas, that’s what the spirit of Christmas is all about.”


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