U of C students got brass

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In the hustle and bustle of a booming city, where stress levels are only matched by blood pressure, it is safe to say that Calgarians need a break from time to time. The Pro Arts Society is offering anyone in the city with ears a brief moment of sanity in their Music @ Noon series, which runs every Wed., at the Cathedral Church of the Redeemer. This upcoming week, Music @ Noon will feature a brass quintet from the University of Calgary music department, the mythological beast contained in Craigie Hall. French horn player Jon Fisher is grateful for the opportunity to play in the Music @ Noon series and for the recognition his group is receiving.

"It makes me happy to see eyes open looking in the direction of the music department," says Fisher. "In my opinion, that has not always been the case. The university's attention usually goes towards other departments and the fine arts have been overlooked."

The Faculty of Fine Arts at the U of C has certainly faced its share of turmoil. It is often the victim of neglect and was on the verge of bankruptcy in the not so distant past. This was augmented by a watershed donation made in 2005 that was later deemed fraudulent. Fisher acknowledges wounds are healing and the university is showing more interest in the fine arts than before.

"For the first time ever [in my degree], the university is interested [in the fine arts]," says Fisher. "The brass quintet has played at several university functions this year. We played at the U of C report to the community, at a trust dinner and a couple fundraisers."

The success of the brass quintet can be attributed to more than just a show of interest from university administration. While the support definitely helps, the brass quintet is a hardworking ensemble, regardless of the attention they receive. Fisher says their excellent work ethic has landed them numerous gigs and a winning spot in the U of C Concerto Competition this year.

"I really feel the group has taken off this year," he says. "The group has become an integral part of my daily life. We work really hard and there are strong players in the group."

The brass quintet meets three to four times a week for rehearsals. This is a rather large time commitment for already time-starved music students, but the quintet does not mind investing worthwhile time into their music. Some groups would flounder under such a heavy schedule, but Fisher insists the work is not difficult because the group is so compatible.

"[The brass quintet] is so much fun because we're all friends and we all have our own piece to contribute," explains Fisher. "Musical failures are a result of apathy. We force each other to be accountable and, as a result, the group shines."

The drive of the brass quintet keeps the group afloat and able to deliver during performances. Fisher hopes the success of the group will gain the Faculty of Fine Arts the attention it deserves and his group can continue to get out into the community and do performances like its Music @ Noon engagement next week. With the help of the Pro Arts Society, the brass quintet hopes Calgarians can take some time from their hectic schedules and come listen to some free music at the Cathedral Church of the Redeemer next week.

The Fisher Brass Quintet performs Wed., Jan. 30 at noon at the Cathedral Church of the Redeemer.