Founding Member Eugene Watts Continues in Key Role
The CANADIAN BRASS is delighted to announce that trombonist Keith Dyrda is joining the group. Eugene Watts, co-founder of CANADIAN BRASS, introduces his successor: "I had been keeping my eyes and ears open for a replacement and then suddenly Keith Dyrda appeared -- he is young, charismatic, full of fun and one of the finest trombonists I have ever heard. I loved his presence, focus and personality and I think that he will be an ideal soul mate and partner for the other members of the group. Did I mention that he looks just like I did 53 years ago?”
At just 21-years of age and still completing his studies in performance at McGill University’s Schulich School of Music in Montreal, Keith Dyrda has already become a prominent presence in the performance scene in Canada, including a recent performance of the Tomasi Trombone Concerto with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra.
“This is a huge honour,” enthuses Keith Dyrda, citing the group’s ‘household name in the music world’ and noting that, as he is replacing a founding member, he is only the second trombonist in the group’s history. “I never thought this would happen so soon,” says Dyrda, “and I hope to do it justice.”
Eugene Watts is the original creator behind the CANADIAN BRASS. Originally from Sedalia, Missouri, Gene came to Toronto when he was hand-picked by Seiji Ozawa as first trombonist for the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. There he met Chuck Daellenbach (tuba) -- now the group’s remaining founding member -- and the two set out to create a new model for brass quintets, one which has been widely emulated but still unmatched. Gene will remain an integral part of the group, focusing on concert repertoire and presentation.
“After 40 years of travelling and playing, this is a chance to breathe and to absorb what has happened,” says Watts, “I feel very fortunate and look back with pride. There is a certain sadness, but more joy.”
Asked about a favourite memory from the group’s history, Gene muses about a series of concerts at Vienna’s legendary concert hall, the Musikverein, in the late 80s. “We performed our trademark concert -- classical, early jazz and even Carmen to wonderful response and standing ovations demanding 3 encores -- here, in this bastion of Western classical music culture! I had to pinch myself -- how did this happen?”
This break from concertizing will also give Watts a chance to pursue his spiritual path. Since studying in India with the Maharishi in 1969, Watts has shared his techniques of meditation and inner silence with the group, something that has become a key part of the CANADIAN BRASS’s travel and performance routine.
Keith Dyrda’s first performances with the CANADIAN BRASS took place this past weekend in New Brunswick. He next joins the group for a tour of China in May. In addition to Chuck and Keith, the Brass includes Christopher Coletti and Brandon Ridenour (trumpets) and Jeff Nelson (horn).