Brass Kamarades Quintette de Cuivres

Brass Kamarades History

A Brass Quintet in the making

With its roots in the Haut-Richelieu region, this brass ensemble was the brainchild of two musicians from one of the oldest concert band in Quebec and in Canada, namely the Cercle Philharmonique de Saint-Jean which was founded in 1852 under the name "St-John's Band" and incorporated in 1890 under its current name.  André Lessard – who was an experienced trumpet player from the Music of the Royal 22nd Regiment – and Denis Bellemare – who had a lot of experience playing with various orchestras and who was also a member of a French horn ensemble – got the initial idea and approached the other three members who were ready to take the plunge as they started rehearsing in September of the same year.  Their first contract was with the City of Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu that a bicycle path relay.

The other original members were Paul Defour, on trumpet, who played in various concert bands in the Greater Montreal area, Claude Archambault, on trombone, who also had experience playing with concert bands and stage bands, and Denis Desnoyers, who was actually just starting on tuba to fill an empty chair at the Cercle Philharmonique after more than 30 years playing trombone and euphonium.

It was Paul Defour who suggested the name "Brass Kamarades" that reffered to the French Canadian expression "brasse camarades" which is kind of a happy get together or party among friends. So to this date, Brass Kamarades has been the group's trademark.  Thank you Paul!  André Lessard, who was still a member of the Canadian Armed Forces, was transfered back to Quebec City in the following spring and was replaced by Michel Hébert.  Paul Defour also left the group that same season for personal reasons and was replaced by Claude Jean.

This version of the Brass ensemble, which by the way is semi-professional, stayed together for more or less four years with some members starting to do original arrangements for the group when others were focusing their efforts towards the booking of gigs to show off their savoir-faire.

During those four years, the quintet played for various social occasions such as cocktail dinners, outdoor concerts, prom nights for various high schools, joint concerts with local choirs and string ensembles, as well as fundraising activities for the local museum and the regional hospital.

A second wind and more

In the fall of 2004, the group had another shuffle of musician and welcomed its first female member to replace Claude Jean.  Yes, another trumpet shuffle! It looks as though we, the low brasses, are too tough on those poor trumpets and they don't last. And from what we see in similar groups, it seems to be an old story. So in comes Guylaine Jetté, who also was a member of the Cercle Philharmonique who also served in the Canadian Armed Forces.

Merely two weeks after Guylaine joined in, Brass Kamarades got a last minute replacement gig for a former television show aimed at the elderly called "Y a Plein de Soleil" that was due to air 2 weeks before Christmas.  We are still into this last version of the group and we are hoping for the best because there is a good chemistry between the members and we always work to improve ourselves.

The group worked with this member setup until Guylaine's departure for Québec city in Summer 2015. Yet again, we turned toward the members or the Cercle Philharmonique de Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu (CPSJ) and the chosen candidate accepted without any hesitation.

So, with about 40 years of experience on trumpet in many diverse ensembles in Montreal an abroad in the province, Denys Lussier accepted the challenge and worked very hard to make a good impression from the start. In February 2016 came the funeral of Robert, Denis Desnoyers' brother after which, Michel Hébert announced us he was leaving the group for personal reasons. Denys then proposed an OJV section colleague, Mireille Tardif. She studied trumpet in Montreal and played with the a few bands from the Reserve Forces and joined us right away. We yet again had to look at our repertoire to put everything together. Mireille stayed with us until 2019 when she got too busy with the Reserve Band to be able to combine both.

So the quintet looked again in the ranks of the CPSJ. One of the last recruit was a trumpet player with a great talent who is also a music teacher at Jean-Jacques Bertrand High School in Farnham. José St-onge has also been playing with the Harmonie Caslixa-Lavallée in Sorel since his first years on the trumpet. Also, funny concidence, José played in a brass quintet back in the 80's and the group name was "Brass Camarades". You can say he was predestined to play with us.

We're happy to say that the chemestry is good between all the members and that we're constantly working new repertoire in order to fill our music library and give you a better choice.

Semi-Professional musicians

Far from pretending to compete against big names like Canadian Brass, Empire Brass, Buzz Brass or True North Brass, we are all local semi-professional music lovers that have a full time day job.

Claude on trombone works as a substitute teacher at the Commission Scolaire des Hautrs-Rivières, Denis on french horn is a teacher at Verdun's Polyvalente Mgr Richard, José on trumpet is a music teacher at the Jean-Jacques Bertrand High School, Denys on trumpet works as an engineer for Hydro-Québec and Denis on tuba works as a receiving clerk at the Marché d'alimentation Pasquier and is the creator of this site.

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