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Brass Roots Trio offers unusual seasonal fare

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The Brass Roots Trio is certainly unusual, if not unique, among chamber ensembles.

Its instruments are piano, French horn and trumpet.

Finding music written for this combination presents a bit of a problem: There’s not much out there.

Trio pianist Rosetta Bacon has solved the problem by writing arrangements or rearrangements for the group. Her handiwork will be evident in the Brass Roots’ Placitas Artists Series concert.

The program, titled “Winter’s Eve,” brings together holiday and seasonal music in varied styles.

“We start out with a contemporary arrangement of ‘Joy to the World.’ Then we’re doing Astor Piazzolla’s ‘Winter’ from his ‘Four Seasons.’ I found a piano arrangement, and I rearranged it for the trio. We love Piazzolla,” Bacon said in a phone interview from her home in Flemington, N.J.

That’s followed by a klezmer piece and a selection of Christmas songs from around the world and several traditional English carols – with a “Downton Abbey” twist.

The second half opens with a Bacon-arranged medley of waltzes from Richard Strauss’ comic opera “Der Rosenkavalier and a Bacon-arranged piano suite by Czech composer Bohuslav Martinu.

The balance of the program is holiday music, including tunes arranged by jazz composers Dave Brubeck and Vince Guaraldi.

And it includes “O Holy Night,” sung by hornist Douglas Lundeen.

Even if Lundeen’s vocal solo is in a printed program,the fact that he’s singing is a surprise for audiences. “He doesn’t look like a Wagnerian tenor, but when he opens his mouth, out comes a beautiful sound,” Bacon said.

The trio’s trumpeter is Travis Heath.

Since its inception 13 years ago, the Brass Roots Trio has had many joyful concerts, but “a big thrill,” Bacon said, came in 2009 when it performed for President Barack Obama at the White House.