Brassroots: Inspiring a love of music
Brassroots strives to cultivate the London area community’s knowledge and appreciation of music by presenting a wide range of musical works, with a special focus on showcasing Canadian composers and arrangers.
Brassroots engages in exciting artistic collaborations with a diverse variety of musical ensembles and artists in our community. Along with our regular concert season Brassroots frequently performs as guest artists throughout Southwestern Ontario at concert series, conferences and churches. As well the ensemble performs for not-for-profit and charitable organizations.
Brassroots is deeply committed to encouraging the development of young brass players, through our Junior Brassroots ensemble. In addition Brassroots has held three youth brass competitions.
Brassroots was founded in 1986 by Professor James White with brass students at the University of Western Ontario. Concerts have been presented regularly in the ensuing years.
In 1995, after ten years of distinguished leadership, James White retired, and was succeeded by Bramwell Gregson. With Mr. Gregson’s passing in 2018, Brassroots is now under the musical direction of noted London composer/arranger Jeff Christmas.
Our instrumental mix of four trumpets (doubling piccolo trumpet, cornet and flugelhorn), one horn, one tuba and four trombones is further coloured with two percussionists, giving Brassroots the flexibility to demonstrate compositional moods and styles that are more often performed by larger and more traditional groups.
In 2009 and again in 2011, Brassroots won the Jack Richardson Music Award for Best Classical Group, and in 2010 and 2013 received the London Music Award for best classical ensemble.
In addition to its local concert series, Brassroots has performed at the 2017 Canada150 Band Festival in London, and in Barrie, Chatham, Goderich, Kitchener, St. Thomas, Strathroy, Sudbury, Toronto and West Lorne. It has also been well received at The Great American Band Festival in Danville Kentucky, twice at The Great Canadian Band Festival in Orono, Ontario, the performing arts series in Niagara Falls and Uxbridge, the Guelph Spring festival, the Kincardine Summer Festival, “Music is for Life” Festivals at Laurier University and in a CBC broadcast. In August 2013, Brassroots conducted a highly successful tour of China.
Brassroots has collaborated with many choirs in Southwestern Ontario, including the Amabile choirs, Primus, Pro Musica of London, Karen Schuessler Singers, Woodstock-Fanshawe Singers, Guelph Chamber Choir, and the Gerald Fagen Singers. Brassroots has featured many of Canada’s outstanding instrumentalists in its concerts and enthusiastically supports Canadian composers and arrangers.
The ensemble also performs for not-for-profit and charitable organizations, including the London Mens’ Mission, the Food Bank, the Salvation Army’s annual Christmas Kettle Appeal and the Dundas Street Centre United Church’s “Out of the Cold” programme.
Since inception, Brassroots has showcased over seventy compositions and arrangements in first performances, spanning the vast range of music literature for which we are renowned. Brassroots enthusiastically performs Baroque and classical transcriptions, jazz, pops and original music with exceptional musical skill.
Brassroots’ reputation has spread beyond the shores of Canada through its recordings. “Brassroots 20” (2007) celebrated our first twenty years of continuous concert seasons. In November 2009 we released “Cocktails”, a showcase of compositions and arrangements by Londoner Jeff Christmas, who has for years enriched our repertoire with imaginative compositions and skillful arrangements. And our 30th anniversary CD was released in April 2016. Through our CDs, Brassroots’ music has been heard on CBC Radio and Public Radio Stations as far away as The United States and Australia.