The 2015-2016 season marks the 15th anniversary year for the JMU Brass Band. Since it's beginnings in 2000, the band has presented consistently high performances at the North American Brass Band Association (NABBA) Championships; toured England, Wales and Austria; performed at regional, national and international music conferences; presented concerts at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts (Washington, D.C.) and the Bruckerhaus Concert Hall (Linz, Austria); given the North American premiers of numerous works for brass band; and hosted a wide variety of international brass soloists including Allen Vizzutti, Les Neish, Sheona White, David Thornton, Steven Mead, David Childs, Vince DiMartino and Brett Baker.
An alumni brass band event kicks off the year long celebration. Past and current band members have come together for a weekend of music making and socializing, culminating in a concert on the lawn at James Madison University on Sunday, June 28 at 3 pm.
The band finished out the year to a packed concert hall as we shared the stage with the brilliant Massanutten Youth Brass Band under the direction of Rhonda Stees. Both bands have shared performances in the past, but this was the youth band's first time in the Forbes Center for the Performing Arts. The youth band's program included Fanfare Prelude (Curnow), March from A Moorside Suite (Holst), Ar Lan y Môr (arr. Baker) and A Cambrian Suite (M. Ball). The second half of the concert featured the JMU Brass Band performing Jupiter (Allan), Concertino (Shostakovich), Zelda (Code) with soloist Matt Harper, Brillante (Graham) with soloists Aaron Campbell and Joel Collier, and The Year of the Dragon (Sparke). The concert finale showcased combined bands performing the exciting Festmusik der Stadt Wien (R. Strass)
The JMU Brass Band is looking forward to their featured performance at the 2014 Virginia Music Education Association Conference in Norfolk, Virginia on Saturday, November 22. The program will include Walking with Heroes (Lovatt-Cooper), Masque (Hesketh), Hymn for Diana (Turrin) and Music of the Spheres (Sparke). In addition, Andrew Lankford, JMU Professor of Trombone, will join the band on Leidzén's Concertino for Band and Trombone. It has been 10 years since the band last performed at this prestigious event.
The band will also present the same program at JMU on Friday, November 14 and in Virginia Beach at Ocean Lakes High School on Friday, November 21.
Auditions have been set for the band's 15th season and will take place August 25-26, 2014. Audition registration and information is available on the band's website.
Aaron Campbell, 2nd baritone with the band, narrowly escaped a house fire early this morning. Aaron and his fiancee got out just in the nick of time as they awoke to the sound of shattering glass. All their belongings were lost including clothing, computers, ID's, and credit cards, as well as both a euphonium and a baritone. A fund has been set up to help the young couple get back on their feet. Both are currently graduate students, Aaron at JMU and his fiancee at the University of Virginia. To donate, please go to gofundme.
The JMU Brass Band will present a program of music spanning over a century as they celebrate the 100th anniversary of Percy Fletcher's monumental contest work Labour and Love (1913) and give the North American premiere of Peter Meechan's Fragile Oasis (2013). The program will also include the classic contest march Mephistopheles by Shipley Douglas, Philip Wilby's Into the Light, music from Bernstein's West Side Story and Richard Wagner's Elsa's Procession to the Cathedral. Tickets are available from the Forbes Center box office.
Friday, November 15
Forbes Center for the Performing Arts
James Madison University
An avid champion of new music for brass band, the JMU Brass Band will give the North American premiere of Peter Meechan's Fragile Oasis on November 15 at the JMU Forbes Center for the Performing Arts. The work was commissioned by the Leyland Band (England) and conductor, Michael Bach, and partly funded by The John Golland Trust, for the band's appearance at the 2013 European Brass Band Championships in Oslo, Norway.
After two days of auditions, the Fall 2013 roster has been set. The band's principals for the semester are Matt Harper, principal cornet; Alec Moser, soprano; John Nye, flugel horn; Michael Kregel, tenor horn; Ryan Stees, baritone; Kyle Remnant, trombone; euphonium, Joel Collier; Eric Goode, Eb bass; Will Mason, Bb bass; and Elayne Harris, percussion.
The band would also like to congratulate and welcome new members Ben Flint, Dylan Rye and Michael Parker, cornet; Ben Yehle and Zach Nicely, horn; Aaron Campell, 2nd baritone; Josh Benbow, Bb bass; Steve Kunka and Paige Durr, percussion.
For the full personnel list click here.
Julia with the band at NABBA.
The spring of my senior year in high school my parents brought me to James Madison University for my All-State band audition. We heard that the JMU Brass Band had a concert the night before and we decided to go. When I heard the band I was in awe. I was stunned by the emotional connection and intensity that this group was able to bring to their music. It was the first brass band I had ever heard, and by the end of the night I knew I had to be a part of this unique group. In the fall of 2012 I auditioned for the JMU Brass Band and I was beyond excited when I made it into the ensemble.
Mr. Stees holds every student accountable for his or her part. We are all treated as professionals in the band regardless of age. As Vince Bryk mentioned each student is held to a “high quality of musicianship” and all members “are continuously wanting to improve not only their playing but the quality of the Brass Band as well.” This makes the leap from high school musicianship to college level Brass Band a challenging one. The expectations are higher and the results are beyond the imagination of a new music student. Another student, Matt Knopp stated “Remember when you were a kid and on a hot summers day, jump into a pool and you get a little shocked from the coolness of the water? That's how I felt on the first day of Brass Band, a shock. I had no idea what I got myself into and was struggling to stay afloat the first day. Looking back at it now, it was probably one of the best decisions I made here at JMU.” According to Charlie Frise, “The contrast of style the band can produce is astonishing”. Mr. Stees leads the Brass Band to work hard so that we can create music. We focus on our sound as a group in rehearsal; Individual work is done before rehearsal starts. Robert Wollenberg said, “ Brass Band is more than just fast musical licks or beautiful lyrical sections; it's about getting together and making music with around 30 other friends in an ensemble that is like no other. It has been the most rewarding experience of my short time here at JMU. I would not trade these experiences for anything in the world and I am honored to be a part of this great ensemble." Vince said, “To sum things up, Brass Band has been a big challenge, but the hard work has pushed [us] to become more mature and experience [d] players."
Being a freshman in Brass Band automatically makes you step up your game. You are thrown into something you have never experienced before, and it makes the individual and the group benefit as the freshmen players grow. The older players have molded us into a part of what was their group, and now we play as one. Auditioning for Brass Band was one of the best decisions of my year. It has made us think as professionals when we walk into practice rooms and rehearsals. Brass Band has made me realize that my individual work is important and it makes me want to bring something to the table. Brass Band is work, but it keeps my heart in the music. Being a music major is a large commitment, but Brass Band has kept the fun in playing. I need to continue playing for fun but also as a dedication. This ensemble does take work and dedication, but it also requires someone who has a passion for music and for performing with peers.
This past April the JMU Brass Band went to Cincinnati, Ohio for NABBA (North American Brass Band Association). It was the most exciting music event I have ever experienced. It was a weekend of nothing but brass and good company! There are solo competitions at NABBA with a division for slow melodies and a division for technique. Hearing different musicians play inspired me to compete in the slow melody division next spring. The musical moments showed me the caliber of musicianship at this competition and made me want to play to be a good musician. It rekindled my fire to make music- not just catch notes. The group competition was the most thrilling rush of adrenaline. We were connected as a group and performed the best product of our pieces.
My peers have agreed that NABBA is without a doubt worth extra time put into the music. When asked about the experience, Robert Wollenberg stated, “NABBA ... what can I say? Let's sum it up to two days of brass band bliss, listening to some truly high caliber brass bands from all over the North American continent; not to mention, there were vendor's galore, allowing anyone to come try out new horns and new mouthpieces. Personally, I didn't want the weekend to end; I loved heading back to the third floor of the Cincinnati Masonic Temple to just play around on new cornets/trumpets. For a brass player, it was truly heaven on Earth and do not even get me started on performing. Getting to go out on stage and play Elgar Variations and Montage in front of two electric crowds was worth the trip alone; the atmosphere was so alive and I can't say I've had more fun making music than on those performances. NABBA is a once in a lifetime experience, one that any brass musician should take a part in; it's a place where you can show off your hard work and be awarded with thunderous applause. If I do well going into the next two semesters, this won't be my last NABBA and seriously, I hope it's not; NABBA, and playing in this brass band, are experiences that I will never forget for the rest of my musical career.”
Auditioning for the JMU Brass Band is worth every moment of extra work. Going to NABBA meant having two night rehearsals per week, however, these were the most productive rehearsals I have ever been to. That extra time we spent is what made it possible for us to make music together in the way that we did at the competition. Brass Band is a time to actually make music with your colleagues. As a freshman, the competition was intimidating because we competed against older bands, but what Mr. Stees said to us before the competition really stuck with me. He said “ I want people to say you all played well AND you are a young band…not that you all played well FOR a young band”. This type of encouragement and discipline makes us all work harder. It makes us realize that as musicians we cannot give ourselves excuses for not making the best music that we can possibly make. No matter the age, give the best performance. NABBA and Brass Band this year have absolutely been my greatest experiences of the year.
JMU Brass Band