Canadian Brass

Brass Band

Canadian Brass


The original challenge was to develop an audience for an ensemble of brass players that, at the time, had no standing in the concert world. What set Canadian Brass apart from all other performing artists in 1970 was the relentless search for repertoire that was both loved by its performers and embraced by a growing brass audience.

The musical experiences of the members along with the interests and wishes of audiences informed the programs that the group created ranging from Bach, Handel, Vivaldi, Joplin, Gershwin and Ellington, to ballet, opera and Schickele. The ensemble never ignored an opportunity to relate to its audience which brought the Brass to international attention. They were at first criticized for talking to audiences and now take pride in seeing the entire concert world embracing engagement as a fundamental element of performance.

The Brass has averaged two and a half full length recordings per year of its 52 years of existence for a total of 138 recordings. They have received a combined total of 24 Grammy and Juno nominations and won the German Echo Award for Goldberg Variations. A North American group taking Bach back to Europe and winning approval at the highest level was a crowning achievement! Most recently during the Covid era the Brass created another award-winning recording, Canadiana. The album features unique arrangements of many Canadian superstars including Joni Mitchell, k.d. lang, Bruce Cockburn, Drake and DeadMau5.

Education continues to be at the forefront of Canadian Brass’ yearly activities. There are over one million Canadian Brass quintet repertoire books in the hands of students in every country with a strong brass tradition. Between Hal Leonard Music Publishing distributing its 800 unique individual brass titles and SmartMusic now making available some 76 titles for mixed ensemble use, the Brass continues to shape the future of chamber music ventures.

For a comprehensive Canadian Brass biography, blend together the complete history of any random five musician ensemble and it will yield a year in the world of Canadian Brass. “We’ve created ballets, played Carnegie Hall, toured China during its 1977 reopening, and performed in front of five prime ministers, but most importantly performed for more than ten million friends, family and audiences worldwide so far. We did all this so we could play Bach,” says tubaist & founder Chuck Daellenbach.

Joe Burgstaller, trumpet
Called “a superstar of the trumpet” by conductor JoAnn Falletta, Joe Burgstaller is a long-time trumpeter and arranger with Canadian Brass. Now Professor of Trumpet at Arizona State University, Joe also spent years as an international soloist and a clinician, including his Change Your Mind, Change Your Playing® seminars. Prior to ASU, he was for 11 years at The Peabody Institute, having been named in 2008 a Distinguished Visiting Artist. His formidable online presence includes the world’s most viewed version of La Virgen de la Macarena (4.6 million Youtube views) and his popular Trumpet Warmup Show, livestreamed weekly on Facebook with upwards of 25,000 viewers in 30+ countries. Joe first joined the Brass at the age of thirty. Prior to the Brass, he was a full-time soloist performing 60 solo concerts every season with his Rafael Méndez Project and was a member of the acclaimed Meridian Arts Ensemble.

Ashley Hall-Tighe, trumpet
Ashley Hall-Tighe is an internationally renowned musician, educator, certified life coach and the newest member of the Canadian Brass. With a performing career that spans over two decades, Ashley’s mission is to create environments that encourage curiosity, connection, and deep personal engagement with her audiences. From the Sydney Opera House to the National Center for the Performing Arts in Beijing, China, she radiates an “energetic joy” (Rochester Post Bulletin) through her “warm tone, stunning technique and expressive artistry” (Cincinnati Enquirer). Since 2008, Ashley has been the principal trumpet of the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra, enjoying the multidisciplinary collaborations and innovative programming of the Summermusik Festival each August.

Jeff Nelsen, horn
The instrument formerly known as French Horn stands at the center of a brass quintet. There is not a concert performed by Canadian Brass anywhere in the world where Jeff Nelsen is not surrounded by professional Horn colleagues and former students. He was recently President of the International Horn Society. There is no better-informed Hornist than Jeff, he has played in just about all of the major symphonies in North America, performed in the music of computer games, toured with John Legend and played in the Broadway pits in New York.

Achilles Liarmakopoulos, trombone
Definitely not Canadian (yet!) Achilles Liarmakopoulos is the historian of Canadian Brass. He can recite every piece recorded by Canadian Brass, when it was recorded, and its differences and similarities to repeated recordings of the same work. The Greek Freak of trombone has three prestigious classical music degrees but spends his spare time investigating, performing, and filming Latin music. Recently he mentioned to his Brass colleagues that they should watch a televised Pink Martini performance at Madison Square Garden – and there was Achilles’ soloing on the gigantic jumbotron!

Dr. Conrad Charles (Chuck) Daellenbach, O.C., DMA (hon.), Doctor Litterarium (hon.), Doctor of Music (hon.), PhD (paid in full), tuba
Every social organization needs a bookkeeper, manager, spokesperson, humorist, and critic, so while Canadian Brass has been looking for these people through the years, founder Chuck Daellenbach has been filling in.  Growing up in a musical family tradition Chuck had to sing in choirs, play cello (only one year unfortunately), and take up the tuba to help his dad fill all the positions in his band. Since these musical activities had taken up all his time there was little left for higher math and physics – off to music school! It was at the Eastman where he learned the art of taking every opportunity that knocks, the tiger’s roar on tuba and, after forgetting to leave upon graduation, went on to earn a doctorate at age 25. It was then off to Toronto to head up the brass department (two of us) and meet Eugene Watts, forming one of the most impressive entertainment teams since the Marx Brothers.