On December 22, 2016 Ken Brader and the musicians of The Holiday Brass gathered once again for our annual holiday performance at the Outlets at the Sands shopping mall in Bethlehem, Pa. This year, we had almost 40 members join us as we spread the joy of our music to our audience. As you can expect, trying to coordinate the schedules of 40 people in December is nearly impossible. Due to this difficulty we are only able to schedule one performance. Because of this, it makes the opportunity that much more special. Like we have in the past, we played at 7:15pm and 8:15pm in the center of the mall by the large tree.
I believe I am the longest performing member of the group. Boy, do I feel old! I remember my first time as a student in elementary school when the group began. It was shortly after I began studying with Ken. We were playing in a nursing home in Easton, Pa. The group was small but took off after that. Growing up through high school I made many friends from different schools and enjoyed the camaraderie with musicians from other areas. The last two years have been eye opening as I have seen several players who have either graduated or are in college. I look at them and think, “wow, I remember when that person was in elementary school playing Jingle Bells in the small group and now they are in their twenties!”
The group has always been very important for a lot of people. Routinely I hear from members who say that the holiday doesn’t feel like it is official until the Holiday Brass performs! This year, in fact, we had several parents of former members who do not play anymore come to the mall just to hear the group! It was great to see them and know that this tradition is still enjoyed by many. Ken always handled both the musical and communication duties. But, with his performing schedule very active in the early 2000’s, and the group up to 50 musicians, it was hard for him to continue handling everything. So, rather than potentially see the group end, I assumed the business and administration responsibilities for the group. I did not do it for any reason other than to see us grow and continue to be a Blessing for so many people during the holiday season.
All of the music has been arranged by Ken Brader specifically for the group. Because it is so unique, it never gets old. You can’t go to any music store and purchase these arrangements. This music is meant for a large group and has certainly stood the test of time for over 30 years.
I am very thankful to the Errica Rennig and the management of the Outlets at the Sands for taking such great care of us and providing us with everything we need to ensure a successful performance. We are looking forward to our performance again in December of 2017.
The Holiday Brass Quartet
In June of 2016, I received a call from the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs Baseball Team. They were filling their schedule for musicians to perform the National Anthem before an upcoming home game and wanted to know if I was interested. Since the Iron Pigs are the AAA affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies, I thought it would be a great opportunity to perform. Except, who would join me? Since Ken had been doing some arranging for a student quartet I asked him if he had any interest in forming a Holiday Brass Quartet and creating his own arrangement of the Star Spangled Banner to perform. Well, after some discussion, Ken began working on his own arrangement of the National Anthem and the Holiday Brass Quartet was born. We played at home plate on Wednesday, July 27, 2016 for their 11:00am home game at Coca-Cola Park in Allentown, Pa. It was a great experience. It is always neat to have a chance to go behind the scenes and through the areas usually off limits to the general public. The performance went well and we were honored to be asked to perform. We are hoping to be able to expand this for the upcoming season. Stay tuned..…
I’d like to thank and acknowledge the following musicians for joining us this year–
Scott Albert, Andrew Applegate, Alan Babp, Michael Brown, Jim Buchinski, Joe Buza,
Mark Campbell, Shannon Cawley, Donald Davis, Richard Davis, Donte Delvecchio,
Joe DiMarco, Ryan Dupuis, Rachel Ewaniuk, Rebecca Franco, Ethan Hawkes, Jim Hegedus, Joan Hillyer, Stephanie Kocher, Ali Korona, Jeremy Kratzer, Austen LaBarre, David LaBarre, Taylor LaBarre, Budd Matlock, Jesse Nitchkey, Linda Oaks, Nick Owsik, Matt Pasch, Bob Peruzzi, Ashley Pizzino, Nash Rochman, Jean Sampson, Jim Smith, John Spangenburg, Nick Stein, Isabel Stoeckley, Crystal Trinneer,