Eric Reed loves to squeeze a good game of tennis into his travel schedule. But he promises he changes shoes from the court to the concert hall.
Such stands as an important detail, considering his internationally acclaimed ensemble pairs white tennis shoes with black suits at its performances.
“We try to keep them clean as much as we can,” he said of his sporty, Nike Free kicks.
Reed, the French horn player for the acclaimed Canadian Brass, spoke by phone from Toronto, where the quintet was performing, followed by dates in Italy and Switzerland. Globetrotting gigs have become a way of life for the group that has given the term top brass a whole new meaning.
“They single-handedly transformed perceptions of brass ensembles worldwide,” said David Bowden, music director for the CIP, which will host the Brass for the season-opening concert Sept. 22 at the 1,000-seat Columbus North High School auditorium.
Members of the ensemble have sold more than 2 million albums in its 42-year history, a considerable total in the more obscure orchestral music realm.
In 2010, the Canadian Brass become the first brass ensemble from the West to perform in the People’s Republic of China, as well as the first brass group to grace the stage at prestigious Carnegie Hall. Members have performed on “The Tonight Show,” “The Today Show” and “Entertainment Tonight.”
Reed, 32, joined the group almost two years ago following a guest performance and learned quickly that those bright sneakers aren’t just a marketing gimmick: Members have to both play well and move well for their all-over-the-map concert presence.
“It’s pretty challenging to remember everything and still look confident,” Reed said.
He mentioned that his Evansville Bosse High School marching band experience helped
considerably at mixing music and moves, although the Brass aims for laughs almost as much as applause.
For instance, when the Brass has performed “Tribute to the Ballet” in the past few years, members have run onstage with flying dance leaps and have stood and played with their feet in a dancer’s plie position as the audience chuckles.
“Probably the best part of the group is the human connection with the audience,” he said.
Besides slapstick-style humor that transcends culture and language, the group’s musical style swings wildly through genres including classical, jazz, Dixieland, pop and anything else the brass figures will shine, from Bach to the Beatles.
This month’s concert will include a Beatles medley featuring “Penny Lane,” “Blackbird,” and “Come Together,” plus an abridged version of the formidable “Carmen,” though Reed asked potential audience members here to fret not over hearing a compact version.
“We are,” he said with a laugh, “saving everyone five hours.”