Holiday Brass still brings Christmas to Glenview
Holiday Brass euphonium player Mark Ashbrook entertains a group inside of the Patten House. Ashbrook, who now lives in Tempe, Ariz., graduated from Glenbrook South High School in 1986 and founded the band of former students. | Michelle LaVigne ~ Sun-Tim
Updated: January 4, 2013 8:12AM
GLENVIEW — Todd Nahigian’s twin toddler girls giggle, cover their ears and toot imaginary horns into little fists.
Dad and friends are rehearsing at a Glenview home for another Christmas music performance this year at local retirement centers.
Holiday Brass, a corps of wind musicians who graduated from Glenbrook South High School in Glenview, has remained buddies despite life’s way of typically rerouting teenage friendships via as jobs, families, moving away, etc.
They played in the GBS Marching Band in the late 1980s.
After graduating and while attending the University of Illinois at Champaign, Mark Ashbrook wanted to continue making music.
“We put the group together, and we haven’t missed a year in going somewhere to play for people,” said Ashbrook, of Tempe, Ariz.
Holiday Brass has about 10 members, but not everyone can make the yearly Christmas gigs.
On Saturday morning, Nahigian and Scott Bradbury joined Ashbrook to go over about 15 songs.
“Playing together is a good chance to see everybody and be part of a routine to get into the Christmas spirit,” said Bradbury, a Mount Prospect resident.
Steve Baughman, Susan Hawes, Michael Hawes and Kevin Kruse also are members.
The band had a noon Monday show at Patten House, an assisted living and senior residential center in Glenview.
“Usually, every year from the beginning, we’ve played at Patten House where some people heard us in their 70s and are now into their 90s,” said Nahigian, who lives in Lake Zurich.
After Patten House, Holiday Brass had a recital at The Vi retirement community, also in Glenview.
Past performances have been at the original U.S. Post Office near Glenview Public Library and playing alongside Salvation Army bell ringers. One year they blew early-morning revelry for sleeping firefighters at the downtown Glenview Fire Station 6.
“It was the firefighters’ idea,” Bradbury said.
“We wear Christmas colors and hats. Susan wears antlers,” Nahigian said. The band plays traditional Christian hymns and contemporary Christmas carols.
“We play for 40 minutes, which is hard as brass instrument players. It’s a stamina issue,” he said.
Similar to Nahigian, Bradbury also has twin girls, and Ashbrook had a baby daughter in October.
“Every year, one of us shows up with a new child. All the kids will be there for Monday’s performance,” Ashbrook said.
Nahigian’s mother, Mary Ellen Johnson, said music brought Holiday Brass together.
“The fact they’ve kept it going is a testimony to their friendship,” she said. “To know that as a parent you’ve conveyed this tradition to your kids is very nice. It’s my son’s way of expressing love at Christmas time.”