Unlikely musicians team up for concert

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An unexpected combination of brass instruments and the harp will take listeners by surprise this weekend.

Harpist Gianetta Baril is combining her talent with the Foothills Brass Quintet for a performance at the Red Deer Lake United Church Jan. 21 at 3 p.m. in the On the Edge Concert Series’ first concert of 2018.

“When people hear about it they say, “How can the harp possibly even be heard,’” said Baril. “Besides the look of it, it has this capacity to draw people in because when it’s played in a way that uses the full capacity of the resonances of it, it really gets people on a level that is very unexpected. That’s one of the things that’s amazing about it.”

Baril said the wind ensemble and harp produce an amazing sound and atmosphere because the harp adds a different flair to the sound.

“It’s quite fascinating,” she said. “I think people will be surprised and leave very happy, with their horizons a little bit wider than they might have been when they first walked in there.”

Baril fell in love with the classical harp at age three and has been playing it since she was 10 years old.

“It has a very broad range of sound capabilities,” she said. “The sound you can produce from that instrument is very amazing. It can fill a hall quite substantially. It really has a strong presence.”

One of the challenges of playing the harp is the limited repertoire, especially when combined with other instruments, said Baril.

“It has a relatively short history,” she said. “We don’t have a lot of solo repertoire or good chamber music from people like Mozart and Beethoven.”

Baril said she and the quartet have come up with a range of music listeners will recognize and that will push boundaries.

“It’s a program that ranges from Four Strong Winds to all kinds of classical stuff and finishing off with Stairway to Heaven,” she said.

She’s performed with members of the Foothills Brass Quintet individually, but never with the quintet as a whole.

Chris Morrison, an original member and trumpet player with the Foothills Brass Quintet, said the harp and wind instruments go together the same way that voice and guitar do.

“It’s a great combination,” he said. “People can expect to be surprised at how beautiful it sounds.”

Morrison said the combination is uncommon.

“There is some music originally written for this combination and we arranged some of our own pieces that we’ve done before and some pieces that we haven’t,” he said. “It’s music that’s new to all of us and music that some of us have been playing for years.”

The Foothills Brass Quintet performed its first concert in 1981 and has since toured across North America performing evening and educational concerts.

This weekend’s concert marks the second time the quintet has performed for the On the Edge Concert Series.

Tickets to see the performance cost $25 for adults, $10 for youth and children ages 12 and under are free. They can be purchased at reddeerlakeuc.com or by calling 403-256-3181 ext. 5.

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