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Brass players prefer tongue-in-cheek style

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Lucy Maud Montgomery, author of Anne of Green Gables, said "Life is worth living as long as there's a laugh in it."

The Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra is presenting a concert Tuesday, April 23, that is sure to bring some comic relief to Winnipeggers facing a never-ending winter and a provincial sales tax hike. They are bringing in Mnozil Brass, a seven-piece brass ensemble often referred to as "the Monty Python of music."

The group hails from Austria and is as unique as its name. Mnozil (pronounced Nose-el) originates from the Mnozil Inn in Vienna, where members of the group often played together. And they mean play literally.

Not only are these seven musicians technically proficient, they are multi-talented as well. Their act is full of amusing antics that include singing, choreography, acting and physical comedy. They arrange familiar music into creative concoctions that are original and unpredictable. They'll stop at nothing to get their audience to laugh.

"They play for all ages," John Luckacovic, Mnozil Brass' North America agent said in a telephone interview. "They disarm audiences by being zany. They're crackerjack musicians. They will take you on a journey."

The ensemble members are Robert Rother, Thomas Gansch and Roman Rindberger, trumpets, Leonhard Paul, bass trumpet and trombone, Gerhard Fuessel and Zoltan Kiss, trombones, and Wilfried Brandstoetter, tuba. The group has been together for 20 years with most of the original players.

For Tuesday night's program they will do the show they call Blofeld, named for the super villain Ernst Stavro Blofeld of six James Bond films. The program is full of tunes from the movies, including I Wanna be Loved by You, the theme from Psycho, an Olympic medley, the Superman theme, Birdland, a James Bond medley and Nobody Does It Better.

"They love to be obscure," said Luckacovic. "It's very tongue-in-cheek and it keeps the audience guessing."

Mnozil Brass performs more than 120 shows per year, travelling all over the world. The ensemble is on a mini-Western Canada tour before heading to the U.S., Malta, Slovenia and Italy to do more shows. All this travel can be tough for these family men.

"One musician had to cancel playing at a conference because his baby was due to be born during the time of the performance," Luckacovic said.

When they are home, they manage to fit in some teaching. "They have multiple occupations," Luckacovic explained. "Some have university teaching gigs, others teach privately."

Mnozil Brass members are providing an educational component to their Winnipeg trip as well. The Manitoba Band Association has enlisted them to give two student performances at Grant Memorial Baptist Church on the day following their concert. Schools clamoured to have their young musicians exposed to Mnozil Brass and remaining seating is limited.

Luckacovic explained that while it may not be a household name to the public, brass players are well acquainted with the Mnozil Brass and its prodigious talent. The Canadian Brass members are purported to be "rabid fans." And if you've seen the 2011 movie, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, you heard them on the soundtrack.

"Being an artist of any kind is sort of a calling," said Luckacovic. "They strive to be the best musicians they can be -- with a sense of humour and for the audience. It's a totally fascinating evening that will enlighten and entertain people."

The concert starts at 8 p.m. at the Centennial Concert Hall. Tickets are $25, available at the WSO Box Office at 204-949-3999 or at www.wso.ca

gwenda.nemerofsky@shaw.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 22, 2013 D8

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Updated on Monday, April 22, 2013 at 9:25 AM CDT: adds fact box

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