2009 US Open Brass Band Championship - Runners and Riders


4BR takes a look at the cast list of entertainers lined up for our enjoyment this weekend at the Dellora Norris Cultural Arts Center in St. Charles, Illinois.

Brass Band of Central FloridaBrass Band of Central Florida
Conductor: Michael J. Garasi

4BR Ranking: 63

Recent U.S. Open Results:
2008: 2nd (M. Garasi) (7) 
Best Performance of a March 
Buskers Award

2007: 2nd (M. Garasi) (8) 
Best Percussion Section

2006: Winners (M. Garasi) (4)

2005: Winners (M. Garasi) (4)
Best New Composition or Arrangement

Michael J. Garasi2008 Programme:
Ballet Suite No. 4 - Introduction (Shostakovich/Garasi), La Fiesta (Corea/Johnson/Sharp), The President (German), Demelza (Nash/Robertson), Comedy Tonight (Sondheim/Smith), Where Eagles Sing (Lovatt-Cooper)

Central Florida will be looking to recapture a title that has just elluded them the past two years.
They are sure to bring a fantastic show (both with music and entertainment) in their quest to regain the domestic bragging rights and gain another invite to the Brass in Concert Championships in the UK.

Will they be able to recapture the magic from a few years back and win a 4th U.S. Open though?

Eastern IowaEastern Iowa Brass Band
Conductor: Casey Thomas

4BR Ranking: N/R

Recent U.S. Open Results:
2007: 3rd (C Thomas) (3) 
Best New Composition or Arrangement

2007: 4th (C Thomas) (1)

2006: 5th (Dickinson) (6)

2005: 6th (Dickinson) (2)

Casey Thomas2008 Programme:
Fanfare - from "Grand Canyon" (Howard/McCoy), The Girl With the Flaxen Hair (Debussy/Parkes), The Late, Late Movie on Channel 88~or~It was a Dark and Stormy Night (Berners/Thomas), The Clock and the Dresden Figures (Ketelbey/Snell), Esprit de Corps (Jager).

Over the past couple of years, Casey Thomas has brought this band to the fore - and their ever improving set of results at the contest show that in full.

Last year their quality music playing brought them a solid third place, but their entertainment score held them back a bit. 

Surely they will make great strides, but can they break through to the top two this time around?

Fountain City Brass BandFountain City Brass Band
Conductor: Dr. Joseph Parisi

4BR Ranking: 51

Recent U.S. Open Results:
2008: Winners (J. Parisi) (3)
Best Soloist (Nate Gay, euph)

2007: Winners (J. Parisi) (3) 
Most Entertaining
Best Soloist
Best Cornet

2006: 3rd (Reinhart) (7)
Most Entertaining
Best Soloist 
Best New Composition or Arrangement

2005: 3rd (Reinhart) (7) 
Most Entertaining
Best Soloist, Buskers Award

Joe Parisi2008 Programme:
Liberty Fanfare (Williams/Sykes), Viva Birkinshaw (Rimmer), Die Teufelszunge (Schmidt/Gay), Prelude '49th Parallel' (RV Williams/Douglas), Hora Staccato (Dinicu&Heifetz/Richards), Feeling Good (Bricusse&Newley/Harrelson), Finale from 'Symphony No. 4' (Tchaikovsky/Harrelson)

Fountain City Brass Band is the reigning North American and U.S. Open Brass Band Champion, having won an unprecedented five consecutive national titles - this weekend could see them make it six in a row, and they must be favourites to do just that.

The band would like nothing better to wrap up the double 'hat trick' with them when they depart for their UK tour next week that includes stops at Brass in Concert and the Scottish Open. 

Their biggest question mark might be have they spread themselves too thin to be competitive at any of the competitions? Given their recent record and their current resolve, you doubt it.

Madison Brass BandMadison Brass Band
Conductor: Craig Mason

4BR Ranking: N/R

Recent U.S. Open Results:
2008: 5th (Mason) (1)

2007: Did Not Compete

2006: Did Not Compete

2005: Did Not Compete

Craig Mason2008 Programme:
Castell Coch (Powell), Ave Maria (Biebl/Pierce), The Marriage of Figaro (Mozart/Hazelgrove), Aria (Sparke), Chorale and Toccata (Bulla), Fnugg Blue (Baadsvik/Giske)

Madison made a strong debut last year and showed that they were not too far off the pace set by the best bands at the contest. 

A year on and the odds are they have learned some lessons and will make an even stronger push for a podium place or even better under the direction of the talented Criag Mason.

Other rivals haven't sttod still either though, so can they separate themselves from the rest of the chasing pack?

Milwaukee Festival BrassMilwaukee Festival Brass
Conductor: Dr. Patricia Backhaus

4BR Ranking: NR

Recent U.S. Open Results:
2008: 7th (P. Backhaus) (5)

2007: 7th (P. Backhaus) (7)

2006: 8th (P. Backhaus) (3)

2005: 7th (P. Backhaus) (3)

Dr. Patricia Backhaus2008 Programme:
Celebrate Rotary (Graham), Music for a Festival (Sparke), Tis So Sweet (Burgmayer), My Name is Bond (Mortimer)

Annually, Milwaukee may have finished near the bottom of the pack, but the fact is that the band has been making great strides year on year too and are catching up very quickly indeed with the rest of the highly competitive field.

Patricia Bachaus is a gifted musician and conductor who has taken realistic steps in achieving the bands musical goals, and this year the band may well be in the right rame of mind and with just the right programme to show off their skills to greater effect again.

Motor Ciity Brass BandMotor City Brass Band
Conductor: Craig Strain

4BR Ranking: NR

Recent U.S. Open Results:
2008: DNC

2007: 8th (C. Strain) (6)

2006: 6th (C. Strain) (1)

2005: 2nd (C. Strain) (6)
Best Performance of a March

Craig Strain2008 Programme:
Did not Compete

Motor City returns after a year away from the contest and after a couple of disappointing results. 

It will be interesting to see what they bring as the return back to the mix as after all, it was only a few years ago that they were runners-up at the contest and they have a batch of gifted performers in the ranks and a high class conductor at the helm.

Time stands still for no band, but we suspect the return could see them firing on all cylinders this weekend.

Ohio Brass BandOhio Brass Band
Conductor: Tony Zilincik

4BR Ranking: N/R

Recent U.S. Open Results:
2008: 4th (Droste) (2) 
Most Entertaining
Best Percussion
Best Cornet

2007: Did Not Compete

2006: Did Not Compete

2005: Did Not Compete

Tony Zilincik2008 Programme:
Evolution of Brass Bands (Droste/Herak), Seventy Six Trombones (Willson/Duthoit), William Tell Overture (Rossini/Grant), Bass in the Ballroom (Newsome), Holiday for Strings (Rose/Herak), Minka (Russian Folksong) (McCoy), Poet and Peasant Overture (von Suppe/Herak)

A new MD, some new personel, but the same goal...to entertain. 

Ohio do that just as well as anyone in the business and it will be interesting as always to see just what they bring to the contesting table this year.

However, while they took people by surprise last year by taking three well deserved awards from the favourites, they may find the prizes a bit harder to come by as everbody else has surely stepped up their game. 

Will they have enough in their bag of tricks this year, to make a move up into the podium places?

Prairie Brass BandPrairie Brass Band
Conductor: Dallas Niermeyer

4BR Ranking: NR

Recent U.S. Open Results:
2008: 6th (D. Niermeyer) (6)

2007: 5th (D. Niermeyer) (4)

2006: 4th (D. Niermeyer) (5)

2005: 5th (D. Niermeyer) (4)

Dallas Niermeyer2008 Programme:
Softly, Softly (Fry/Farr), Arabesque (Turrin), Voice of the Guns (Alford), Nott'num Town - 3. Goose Fair (Street), Dance of the Tumblers (Rimsky-Korsakov/Ashmore), Make our Garden Grow (Berstein/Niermeyer)

Anybody who has heard Prairie over the past few years will know that they have steadily improved under the astute direction of Dallas Niermeyer.   

The only problem with a major contest like the U.S. Open is that all the other bands keep improving greatly as well, so last year's 6th place would have been disappointing even though it was perhaps the best the band has ever played at the contest. 

They haven't had much luck either at the contest, but with a group of top quality player around the stand and that solid leadership from the middle this could be the breakthrough year.  

Weston Silver BandWeston Silver Band
Conductor: Larry Shields

4BR Ranking: NR

Recent U.S. Open Results:
2004: Did Not Compete (DNC)

2007: DNC

2006: DNC

2005: DNC

Shields2008 Programme:
Did not Compete

Weston have been a solid band over the past few years with settled personel and a conductor who has brought the very best out of the band, espeically in concerts.

They are now without doubt one of the top Canadian bands and showed their quality at the Hannaford Festival of Brass (winning the Hannaford Cup in 2008). 

Can  they make a mark stateside though?


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