2005 NABBA Championships - Contest preview: Runner and riders

9-Mar-2005

We take a look at this weekends North America Brass Band Championships to be held in Chicago.


nabba logoNorth American Brass Band Association
23rd Annual Event
March 11 and 12, 2005
Pheasant Run Resort, 4051 East Main Street, in St Charles, Chicago, Illinois

Championship Section:
Set Piece: Harrison's Dream by Peter Graham

With the emergence of many new bands over the past five years, and a rebirth of some of the older ones, the Championship Section has recently become very competitive and highly contested.  Between 19902001, there were only four different bands that won the North American Brass Band Championships (NABBC).  However, in the past three years alone, there have been four different champions (yes, the maths on that are correct as there was a tie back in 2002).

It is no wonder that every band entering (and rightly so) has ambitions of winning this year's title and very few will argue against the statement that this year's test piece, "Harrrison's Dream" is the most difficult set work to date. 

Additionally, many of the bands are performing some of the most difficult own choice works ever played at the NABBC.  The expression "on any given day" couldn't be more appropriate than it is this year.  Last year there were some surprises, and this year should be no exception as well.

There are 6 Championship Section bands competing at this year's championships.

Honors Section:
Set Piece: Coventry Variations by Bramwell Tovey

The Honors Section is one section below the Championship section. When NABBA was first formed, the Honors Section was often used as a stepping-stone for a rising band to reach the Championship Section.

In the past few years, several good bands have had to move down from the Championship Section to the Honors Section, and with mixed results.  Recent test pieces have included "A London Overture", "Purcell Variations" and "Diversions on a Bass Theme".

The experience of these bands should make for some splendid listening, whilst out of the bands competing in the section this year, all but one has previously won it.

There are 7 Honors Section bands competing this year.

Challenge Section
Set Piece: Music For a Festival by Philip Sparke

With the increase in the number of bands in NABBA, the Challenge Section (one below Honors) was created in 1986. There are few guidelines for forced relegation and promotion, as bands automatically get promoted if they win a section three years in a row. 

For that reason, the Challenge Section appears to often be populated by bands that are new to competition or are not frequent competitors.

There are 4 Challenge Section bands competing at this year's championship.

Explorer Section  
Set Piece:
First Suite in Eb, Gustav Holst arranged by Keith Wilkinson

The Explorer Section is for brass bands that are just "trying contesting", to see if they would like to take part in future years. In the hierarchy it is below Challenge Section.  There is a strictly non-competitive exhibition section that bands may enter.
 
There is one band competing in the Explorer Section.
 
Youth Section  
Set Piece: Haselmere Suite by Peter Graham

Although you can't tell by the number of bands competing this year, the youth section has actually been growing slowly but steadily over the years with a new youth band being created and entering roughly every 3 years.
 
There is one band competing in the Youth Section at this year's championship.

To ensure blind adjudication, NABBA insists that information regarding draw order, own choice programme and the section the band is entered in, should not be released.


Salvatore ScarpaAtlantic Brass Band
Conductor: Salvatore Scarpa

Past Results
2004: Disqualified
2003: DNC
2002: 5th - Championship
2001: DNC

Following last year's 'registration irregularities', Atlantic will be keen to show eveyone just what they can do at this event, and after last year's performance, many consider Atlantic to be a dark horse. Watch out for them - they could well be in the running for their section title this year.


michael gerasiBrass Band of Central Florida
Conductor: Michael Garasi

Past Results
2004: 2nd - Championship
2003: 2nd - Championship
2002: 3rd - Championship
2001: 4th - Championship

In many quarters, Brass Band of Central Florida (North America's highest rated band) is the favourite. Although they had not won a contest until last autumn's US Open, that special performance should give them the confidence fill the role of champions at this year's event. All signs point to an even greater focus and intensity from this band and it's charisatic MD this time around.


Brass Band of Central Illinois
Conductor:
Dr. Mike Forbes

Past Results
2004: DNC
2003: DNC
2002: DNC
2001: DNC

The Brass Band of Central Illinois, based out of Springfield, Illinois, will be making their contesting debut at this year's NABBC.  Their conductor, Dr Mike Forbes is a former student at the RNCM in Manchester.


keith wilkinsonBrass Band of the Western Reserve
Conductor:
Dr. Keith Wilkinson

Past Results
2004: 4th - Championship
2003: DNC
2002: 7th - Championship
2001: 5th - Championship

This band has been gradually improving under Dr Wilkinson's direction.  The band has enjoyed spirited, intense rehearsals and is hoping that will lead to improved results. However, with a higher level of performance across the board, a similar results may well be on the cards.


Jessica SneeringerCentral Ohio Brass Band
Conductor: Jessica Sneeringer

Past Results
2004: 5th - Honors
2003: 4th - Honors
2002: 3rd - Honors
2001: 5th - Honors

With a steady decline over the last 3 years, it will be interesting to see if new direction brings immediate success or a year of transition. We think it could be the latter.


Colin HolmanChicago Brass Band
Conductor:
Dr. Colin Holman

Past Results
2004: 1st - Championship
2003: 4th - Championship
2002: DNC
2001: DNC

Chicago Brass Band stormed onto the scene winning the NABBC in only their second attempt last year and will be keen to show up to the world championship in Kerkrade later this year as two-time NABBA Champions.  Based on last year's performance, there is no reason to believe that they can't win again in 2005.


Anita Cocker-HuntCincinnati Brass Band
Conductor: Anita Cocker Hunt

Past Results
2004: 3rd - Honors
2003: 1st - Honors
2002: Hosted and DNC
2001: 4th - Honors

A perennial favourite in their respective section, Cincinnati may have their work cut out this year. If they don't finish first they should still be in the top three.


Cincinnati Honors Brass Band
Conductor: Greg Mills

Past Results
2004: 2nd - Youth
2003: DNC
2002: DNC
2001: DNC

The Cincinnati Honors Brass Band is one of the youngest bands in the competition formed only a few years ago.  Last year was their debut at the NABBC.


Jerome AmendCommonwealth Brass Band
Conductor: J. Jerome Amend

Past Results
2004: DNC
2003: DNC
2002: 3rd Challenge
2001: 2nd - Challenge

Back this year after a few years without competing, Commonwealth Brass Band will be well prepared and eager to impress. Regardless of the result, they will have been enjoying rehearsing the set contest piece.


Jason RinehartFountain City Brass Band
Conductor: Jason Rinehart

Past Results
2004: DNC
2003: DNC
2002: DNC
2001: DNC

Only three years old, Fountain City Brass Band will be making their debut at this year. With a strong 2nd place performance at the US Open last November the band is both confident and excited about apperaing at the contest. If they don't challenge for the title this year, they should gain valuable experience for a run at the title next year.


Kevin SteesJames Madison University Brass Band
Conductor: Kevin Stees

Past Results
2004: 1st - Honors
2003: DNC
2002: DNC
2001: DNC

Looking to continue last year's winning ways, the band should again be favourites to regain the title.  With a dominating performance at last year, is this a band higher ambitions?


Patricia EllisonOzark Mountains British Brass Band
Conductor: Patricia Ellison

Past Results
2004: DNC
2003: 5th - Honors
2002: DNC
2001: DNC

Formed in 1995, Ozark Mountains British Brass Band have not been regular competitors at this competition. Making only their second appearance in 5 years and up against more favoured and regular competitors, the band may be at a disadvantage to the experience shared by many of the other bands. 


Russell MorrisNatural State Brass Band
Conductor:
Russell Morris

Past Results
2004: 3rd - Challenge
2003: DNC
2002: DNC
2001: DNC

This is only the second NABBC appearance for the Natural State Band. An ambitious band set to play an ambitious own choice piece, MD Russell Morris assures us that the hard work they have put in will be very evident.


Dallas NiermeyerPrairie Brass Band
Conductor: Dallas Niermeyer

Past Results
2004: N/A
2003: 3rd - Honors
2002: 1st - Honors
2001: 2nd - Honors

Prairie Brass Band has been staying in contest form by competing in the US Open the past two years. They will know what to expect from this competition and be well prepared by their talented MD Dallas Niermeyer for the challenge, allowing them to make a solid challenge for their sectional title.


Colin HolmanSt. Louis Brass Band
Conductor: Dr. Colin Holman

Past Results
2004: 3rd - Championship
2003: 3rd - Championship
2002: 4th - Championship
2001: 1st - Honors

A band on the up. St. Louis has made steady results in the championship section over the past three years with a win in the honors section back in 2001. MD Colin Holman has had great success at the NABBC so they will know what it takes to win.  That being said, the band is still relatively young and will field 10 new faces this year.  A band determined to play to its full potential and take things a step further.


Jim KurschnerSheldon Theatre Brass Band
Conductor: Jim Kurschner

Past Results
2004: 4th - Honors
2003: 2nd - Honors
2002: DNC
2001: DNC

It seems like a lifetime ago that Sheldon Theatre (and fellow competing band Central Ohio Brass Band) finished in the frame in the Championship Section back in 1997. Those days may well be behind them but they continue to entertain audiences wherever they play. Regardless of the result, Sheldon Theatre should once more enjoy themselves this coming weekend.


John SlezakSpires
Conductor:
John Slezak

Past Results
2004: 2nd - Challenge
2003: 1st - Challenge
2002: 4th - Challenge
2002: 1st - Challenge

Spires won the Challenge section with their first attempt in 2001. They became champions again in 2003 and with a runners-up spot last year to the New England Brass Band (not be competing this year) you get the feeling they could be once more, crowned champions of their section. 


Mark WilliamsSpokane
Conductor:
Mark Williams

Past Results
2004: DNC
2003: 4th - Challenge
2002: DNC
2001: DNC

Making the long journey from Washington, as they did two years ago while making their debut at this event is the Spokane Brass Band.  Although a relatively young band (formed in 1995) with limited contest experience, their members are avid followers on the brass band scene and are regularly spotted at events across North America. They will know what it takes to win. Whether they have it will remain a mystery until the weekend.


Jim CheyneSunshine Brass Band
Conductor: Jim Cheyne

Past Results
2004: 2nd - Honors
2003: DNC
2002: 1st Challenge
2001: N/A

After winning the challenge section in both 2000 and 2002, Sunshine followed it up with a runners-up placing last year. They will again be looking forward to this competition and should once more be pushing hard for a title winning performance. A band that is good enough to win but will be up against some stiff competition this year.

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