The Festive Brass quartet is performing with the Vancouver Island Symphony on Dec. 2. (Photo courtesy Heydemann Art of Phototgraphy)

Vancouver Island Symphony celebrates the season with Festive Brass

‘Reindeer Games’ concert to feature mash-ups of Christmas carols and pop tunes

When Stevan Paranosic is drinking too much coffee and thinking about Christmas too much he starts imagining what pop songs would sound like if they were combined with Christmas carols.

“It’s just quirky little ideas that pop into my head sometimes,” said Paranosic, the Vancouver Island Symphony’s principal trumpeter.

One of his latest creations is a cross between the theme from the HBO epic Game of Thrones and the Carol of the Bells, two songs that share repetitive, minor-key melodies.

“Another one — I don’t know where these things come from — Super Mario Brothers and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer at the same time. So it’s like an 8-bit computer animation-ish kind of sounding version of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, so there’s no rhyme or reason to it. I really wish there was sometimes,” he said.

“Sometimes it’s a play on words. I have been working on Deck the Hall of the Mountain King, so sometimes there’s a play on something but other times it’s just completely random… It just kind of works out.”

He added, “We just don’t slap anything together. It has to kind of make sense ahead of time. Musically, anyway.”

Paranosic will be performing some of these compositions with the Festive Brass Quartet and backed by the VIS in the Reindeer Games concert at the Port Theatre on Saturday, Dec. 2. This is the third Christmas concert Paranosic organized with the VIS and his second performing in Festive Brass with the symphony accompaniment.

Since 1998 the Festive Brass have been entertaining passersby observing the Christmastime light displays at Butchart Gardens near Victoria. The lineup has changed over time and Paranosic has been a part of the group for about 10 years. The other three current members are trumpeter Bruce Hurn, trombonist Nick La Riviere and bass trombonist Robert Fraser.

Paranosic said the quartet is accustomed to playing to smaller, mobile audiences outdoors. He said the group is looking forward to playing inside to a larger, more attentive audience.

“With the orchestra what we’ve done is we’ve taken some of the pieces or songs or carol arrangements that we know well from playing them countless times up at Butchart Gardens and now we’ve written orchestral accompaniment and it just adds such a different musical element,” Paranosic said.

“It’s so much more exciting to have the full orchestra behind you and in some ways it’s just so much more musical as well… It’s fantastic to have that sound support underneath us.”

WHAT’S ON … The Vancouver Island Symphony presents Reindeer Games featuring Festive Brass at the Port Theatre on Saturday, Dec. 2 at 7:30 p.m. Adult tickets range from $33 to $54, students tickets are $18 and high school eyeGo tickets are $5.



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