NACO Brass and Friends


Karen Donnelly

Karen Donnelly has been performing as Principal Trumpet of the National Arts Centre Orchestra (NACO) since 1996 and was unanimously appointed to the position three seasons later. She is also Associate Principal Trumpet with the Sun Valley Music Festival Orchestra (Idaho).

Karen has been a soloist with the NACO, Thirteen Strings Chamber Orchestra, Kingston Symphony, Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra, and Orchestra London. She enjoys an active chamber music schedule with True North Brass, and was a guest at the Affinis Chamber Music Festival in Japan. In 2019, she spearheaded a new initiative, the Canadian Women’s Brass Collective, to shine a light on female brass players and provide visibility and mentoring for all students.

Ms. Donnelly holds degrees from the University of Regina and McGill University. But she wouldn’t be a musician without her school band program in her hometown of Regina, Saskatchewan.

Travis Mandel

Travis Mandel is Principal Trumpet of the Ottawa Symphony Orchestra, Cathedral Brass, and a member of the Central Band of the Canadian Armed Forces. Over his young career, Travis has appeared in concert with many orchestras in Eastern Canada, most notably with the National Arts Centre Orchestra, the Thunder Bay Symphony Orchestra, the Orchestre symphonique de Gatineau and the Orchestre de la francophonie. His career highlights include playing for His Royal Highness Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge, appearing in concert with the Beijing Symphony Orchestra and sharing the stage with jazz artist Diana Krall, as well as performing solo works with the University of Ottawa Orchestra and the Central Band of the Canadian Armed Forces.

Charlie Watson

Originally from Ottawa, Charlie Watson graduated from the University of Toronto with a Bachelor’s of Music in Performance, studying with Barton Woomert. In 2019 he was selected as second trumpet with the Canadian Opera Company and is currently on trial with the orchestra. Mr. Watson has performed with the National Arts Centre Orchestra (NACO), the Orchestre symphonique de Québec, Kingston Symphony (including as guest principal) and the Hannaford Street Silver Band.

In competitions, Charlie placed second in the 2021 WTS Excerpt Competition (Graduate Division), was a semifinalist in the 2020 Orchestre symphonique de Montréal Competition, third in the 2019 NACO Bursary competition and won the 2019 Hannaford Youth Rising Stars Competition. He is an alumnus of the National Youth Orchestra of Canada (2019, 2020) and the Orchestre de la francophonie (2021). He also maintains an active teaching studio for both piano and trumpet.

Lauren Anker

Originally from Fredericksburg, Virginia, Lauren Anker is third horn of the National Arts Centre Orchestra. She holds degrees in horn performance and history from Oberlin College and Conservatory, where she studied under former St. Louis Symphony principal horn Roland Pandolfi. In 2021, she completed a Master’s degree at Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music, studying with William VerMeulen.

Anker has spent summers at Idaho’s Sun Valley Music Festival, Aspen Music Festival, and the Pacific Music Festival in Sapporo, Japan. She has joined the horn sections of the Houston Symphony and Dallas Symphony Orchestra, and performed at Chicago’s Symphony Center, Carnegie Hall and Tokyo’s Suntory Hall. In 2021, she was named a Young Artist in Residence with American Public Media’s Performance Today radio program. Apart from music, she loves biking and skiing in Gatineau Park and spending time with her bunny, Dr. Seuss.

Steven Dyer

Steven Dyer is currently the Principal Trombonist of the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra (WSO) and a sessional instructor at the University of Manitoba. During the 2023-2024 season he is Guest Principal Trombonist with the National Arts Centre Orchestra.

Prior to joining the WSO in 2001, Steven was Principal Trombonist with the Thunder Bay Symphony Orchestra and a member of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago; he holds degrees in music performance from McGill and DePaul universities. He has presented recitals and masterclasses in both Canada and the United States, and has appeared as soloist with the orchestras of Thunder Bay and Winnipeg.

Fun fact: he spent two summers with the Band of the Ceremonial Guard performing on Parliament Hill during his student years, and can’t escape the nostalgia on his similar daily walks to the NAC!

Colin Traquair

Born and raised in Saskatchewan, Colin has been a member of the National Arts Centre Orchestra since 1989. He studied with Buddy Baker in the University of Northern Colorado Jazz Studies program and obtained a Master’s degree from Northwestern University in Chicago, studying with Frank Crisafulli and Arnold Jacobs. He also studied with Christhard Gössling, Solo Trombone with the Berlin Philharmonic, and was greatly influenced by his work with Richard Erb when playing with the National Youth Orchestra of Canada.

He is the co-founder of Capital BrassWorks in Ottawa, and has also played with the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, Symphony Nova Scotia, Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony Orchestra, and the Ottawa Symphony Orchestra.

His life’s goal is to study in depth the correlation between the art of trombone playing and the dynamics of the golf swing.

Douglas Burden
Bass trombone

Recently retired from the National Arts Centre Orchestra (NACO), Douglas Burden was the Bass Trombonist of NACO for 50 years starting in 1972. He is the Bass Trombonist of Capital BrassWorks and was a member of the Ottawa Symphony Orchestra during 1975-1992. He has performed as a soloist and chamber musician at Chamberfest, Music and Beyond, and the Elora Festival; he was a member of the Ottawa Brass Quintet and was the manager and co-founder of Classical Brass.

As a freelance musician, Mr. Burden has performed and recorded with the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal (OSM), the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra, and the National Ballet Orchestra. He has taught at the University of Ottawa since 1975, and also at McGill University, Queen’s University, and the Domaine Forget Brass Academy.

Douglas Burden can be heard on recordings of the NACO on the RCA, Analekta and CBC labels, and on the London Decca label with the OSM.

Chris Lee

A native of Toronto, Chris began playing tuba at the age of twelve. After graduating from the Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan, he studied with Dennis Miller at McGill University, Alain Cazes at the Conservatoire de musique de Montréal and Dan Perantoni at Indiana University. His summers were spent performing in various festival orchestras in Canada, the United States and Switzerland, with a memorable summer in the Band of the Ceremonial Guard in Ottawa.

Chris’s professional orchestral career began in Spain in 2001, performing as Principal Tuba with the Orquesta Sinfónica de Galicia. In 2003 he joined the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra as Principal Tuba. In 2018 he started as Principal Tuba with the National Arts Centre Orchestra.

When he is not playing tuba, Chris enjoys running, playing golf and spending time with his wife, Desiree, and their children, Evelyn and Keenan.

Jonathan Wade

A native of Ottawa, Jonathan Wade received a Bachelor’s of Music in percussion from the University of Ottawa, studying with Ian Bernard and Pierre Béluse; and a Superior Studies diploma in timpani repertoire from the Université de Montréal, studying with Louis Charbonneau.

Jonathan has been a percussionist with the National Arts Centre Orchestra since 1982. He also performs with the Canadian National Brass Project, Capital BrassWorks and the Thirteen Strings Chamber Orchestra, and has performed at major festivals in Quebec and across Ontario.

From 2002 to 2023, Jon taught timpani and percussion at the University of Ottawa. He also taught at the Ottawa Youth Orchestra Academy from 1986 to 2009. Through the National Arts Centre’s Education and Community Outreach program, he has presented hundreds of concerts in schools with the percussion duo Bangers and Smash and with the Ragtime Brass.


Nathaniel Mears

Nathaniel Mears is a percussionist based in Ottawa, currently finishing his Bachelor of Music in Performance at the University of Ottawa. He has performed with the Ottawa Symphony Orchestra, Kingston Symphony Orchestra, National Academy Orchestra, and works as a freelancer. He also teaches percussion students as a private teacher, and as section coach for Canterbury High School and the Ottawa Youth Concert Orchestra.