The Breckenridge Music Festival welcomes Justin Bartels, principal trumpet of the Colorado Symphony Orchestra, and his brass sextet, Bartels Brass, for a holiday concert on Sunday.
The performance takes place at 4 p.m. at St. John the Baptist Episcopal Church in Breckenridge, followed by a holiday reception.
Bartels, who began his tenure as principal trumpet with the Colorado Symphony Orchestra in 2008, formed Bartels Brass in 2011. Five of the six musicians are members of the Colorado Symphony.
Joining Bartels are Steve Kilburn (trumpet), Michael Thornton (horn), Paul Naslund (tenor trombone), Greg Harper (bass trombone) and Steve Dombrowski (tuba).
The program opens with selections from "The Nutcracker" by Tchaikovsky, the traditional holiday favorite based on Alexandre Dumas's adaptation of E.T.A. Hoffman's tale, "The Nutcracker and the Mouse King." While Hoffman's original showed the dark side of humanity and was considered inappropriate for children, "The Nutcracker" has become a musical staple for the Christmas holiday.
Other holiday favorites include "Prelude to Hansel and Gretel," "The Twelve Days of Christmas," Leroy Anderson's "Sleigh Ride," Percy Grainger's rendition of the traditional English "Sussex Mummers Christmas Carol" and "What Sweeter Music" by John Rutter.
"The Twelve Days of Christmas," arranged for brass sextet by Andrew Kazdin, is one of Bartels' favorites. "It's really involved," he said, indicating that the group plays it for the holidays as often as possible. The Grainger tune was arranged by Denver composer Michael Allen.
Bartels Brass will also deliver Morten Lauridsen's rendition of "O Magnum Mysterium" ("O Great Mystery"), inspired by the "O Magnum Mysterium" text, which depicts the birth of the newborn King among the animals and shepherds. The Los Angeles-based Lauridsen's rendition has become one of the world's most performed and recorded compositions since its 1994 premiere by the Los Angeles Master Chorale.
"It's melodic," Bartels said. "It doesn't have a very heavy baseline. It really works well in the brass sextet. I think the audience will enjoy that piece in particular."
Popular holiday songs including "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," "Angels We Have Heard on High" and a sing-along of "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" round out the program.
"Since the Renaissance age, brass instruments have been associated with ceremony and celebration," said Breckenridge Music Festival spokesperson Olivia Grover. "The tradition continues today. The spectacular sounds of brass instruments blend to create a perfect festive atmosphere."
Next up in the Breckenridge Music Festival's Encore Winter Concert Series after Sunday is Elizabeth Hainen and Friends: Trios for Harp, Violin and Cello, taking place Jan. 9 at Father Dyer United Methodist Church in Breckenridge.