Crash and Brass

This evening, Rosa and I had tickets to see Canadian Brass at the National Arts Centre. We thought we should have a date night, so we went out for dinner before the performance.

We chose Milestones (as if I don’t already have enough milestones at work). As we were driving north on Greenbank in a light snow, the traffic light at Baseline turned yellow. The SUV in front of us stopped, and I stopped with quite a gap, although I did have to pump the brakes because of the slippery conditions. However, the car behind us didn’t stop and they hit us from behind with a huge whallop.

I turned off the car, which is normal procedure for a car accident to prevent fire, and checked that Rosa was ok. I checked the mirror to see if there were any other cars coming and got out to check on the other car. Everyone was ok.

Despite the big hit, there did not appear to be very much damage to Rosa’s car. The bumper cover was pulled out about 8-10cm on the drivers side, and there were two wide grooves gouged in the bumper cover; the licence plate was crumpled. After exchanging our details, we pulled off to the nearby Petro-Canada station. As it was too cold to write, we used our phones to take pictures of each others drivers license and insurance.

I looked over Rosa’s car and could not see any safety issues, so we decided to continue with our evening.

After a noisy dinner (we had to sit in the bar area as all the tables were full), we drove (slowly) to the NAC.

Canadian Brass was backed by the NAC Orchestra. I was not expecting that, as I had assumed it would be just the five brass players. Having the full orchestra actually detracted from the headliners. In some of the pieces, the orchestra drowned out the brass instruments.

The highlight for me was when they brought out a piccolo trumpet and played “Penny Lane” by The Beatles. It was awesome.

They followed up with two other Beatles songs. “Blackbird“, the simplest Beatles song, was just Paul on acoustic guitar and a metronome for the beat. This didn’t translate well into a full orchestra. The french horn lead could hardly be heard, which is a shame as the french horn can be one of the richest, melodious sounding instruments. The last Beatles song was “Come Together“. Come Together (ironically, once used by Nortel in TV ads) also doesn’t work with an orchestra and brass ensemble. An orchestra lacks that driving buzzy guitar for the chorus, the insistent beat from Ringo and the poetry from Lennon.

I was surprised that “All You Need Is Love” wasn’t used. It would have been perfect the evening. It already opens with trumpets blaring “La Marseillaise” and is already scored for strings and brass. It would have been a great, upbeat song with rich musical textures for the NAC Orchestra and plenty of opportunities to highlight Canadian Brass.

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