Members of Classy Brass hail from across Canada. Our stories in a nutshell...
Rae St. Clair Bridgman is a founding member of Classy Brass and has been playing tuba since she was 13, when she fell in love with those low brassy notes. She studied with Kent Mason in Toronto, Chuck Daellenbach and the Canadian Brass in Toronto and at the Banff Centre many moons ago, and has studied more recently with Marty Erickson. She was also a founding member of the York Brass Quintet, and went on to get her Bachelor of Music from the University of Toronto. Many lives later...she’s now an anthropologist, urban planner, artist, children’s author and illustrator, and a professor in the Faculty of Architecture at the University of Manitoba. Fav quote - “Without music...life would B♭.”
Sara Christianson began playing trumpet in Grade 6.Her grandfather was a professional jazz trumpet player, and she learned trumpet with him. She even played his trumpet (made in 1938) in her high school band.Sara is now a microbiologist and has built a career at Winnipeg's National Microbiology Laboratory.About five years ago, with Sara on trumpet, her dad on French horn and her brother in-law on trombone, her family started playing Christmas brass trios…with singing accompaniments (via video chat) all the way from her family in Denver.Sara was reminded how much she enjoyed playing, and how rewarding it is to read, interpret and perform music.She decided to join the Winnipeg New Horizons band - that's where she met Meera, who then introduced her to the Classy Brass quintet.Fun fact:Two of the Classy Brass trumpet former members were Sara’s teachers in elementary and junior high school." Fav quote - "Bach knew the trumpet is loud. Had he wanted it soft, he would have written the part for recorder!" – attributed to one of Helmut Rilling's trumpeters
Elizabeth Frenette has been playing horn since her first band teacher asked her to "try it for the summer" when she was 12 – at the end of a dismal year of playing trumpet – and she has never looked back. She earned her Bachelor of Music from Mount Allison University, and then on a whim moved to Winnipeg. Elizabeth now works for the federal government in the field of information management. She is a founding member of Classy Brass, plays horn in several Winnipeg community bands, conducts the Manitoba Millennium Band, has been known to hammer away at the piano while caterwauling, and is working on a first novel. She has recently become passionate about tea after tasting her first perfectly made cup. Fav quote - "And, from her wild, sequester'd seat, in notes by distance made more sweet, pour'd through the mellow horn her pensive soul." – The Passions, an Ode for Music, by William Collins
Meera Thadani is a pharmacist and music lover. Her musical training began by accident at the ripe old age of 52, when she decided to try out band instruments at an open house hosted by Winnipeg’s New Horizons Band. The trombone chose Meera - it was the only instrument to produce humorous sounds for her. She realized at that moment she had found her second calling. Shortly after, she began lessons with Melissa Schwartz, who has guided her through the mysterious seven slide positions on the trombone. Fav quote: “Never look encouragingly at the brass, except with a short glance to give an important cue." – Richard Strauss
Jeff Yakel on trombone brings a certain sensitivity and unique perspective to Classy Brass, as he is our only gentleman-with-top-hat! He completed his Bachelor of Science (Computer Science) at the University of Manitoba and works as a software developer. He began playing trombone at the age of 12 and has played in large ensembles consistently ever since, including several community bands and the U of M Concert Band. He has also performed internationally in Japan (Dakota Collegiate Concert Band tour) and the United States (Prairie Redcoats Band). One of his greatest joys in life is "saving the band," which he has done as an honourary member and understudy extraordinaire [translation: filling in on whatever part was needed] – ever since Classy Brass's inception. We are honoured to welcome him as a full member of the ensemble. Currently, he often plays the trumpet parts and is the master of transposing parts on the fly. Fav quote: "My parents pushed me toward trombone because they didn't need another trumpet player." – Trombone Shorty