The Norris Cultural Arts Center in St. Charles, Illinois provided the outstanding venue for the 11th US Open Brass Band Championships.
Hosted by Prairie Brass Band, sponsored by Besson and compered by Frank Renton, it also showcased plenty of top brass band music making in the heartland of America, resulting in Fountain City claiming a second hat trick of ‘Open’ victories in just seven years under the direction of MD, Jospeh Parisi.
Judges Dr. Paul Bauer and Raymond Tizzard, were given the difficult task of deciding on the destination of the Championship trophy, $1,000 first prize and a $100 gift certification from Sam Ash, as the reigning champion was pushed hard by six rivals from five different US states.
Chicago Brass Band under the baton of Colin Holman showed further evidence of their growing competitive excellence by coming runner-up, with Capital City Brass highlighting their emerging contest strength by ending third, directed by William Waterman
No denying Fountain
However, there was to be no denying Fountain City a sixth US Open victory, as the band from Kansas City also claimed an invitation to compete the 2014 Brass in Concert Championship.
Their high quality winning programme was inspired by the Estes Park Longs Peak Scottish-Irish Highland Festival in Colorado, where the band performed prior to devastating floods that struck the area in September.
It opened with a new arrangement of ‘Riverdance’ by Lee Harrelson, before moving through Philip Sparke’s ‘Dundonnel’ and Kenneth Downie’s ‘Piper O’Dundee’ which featured the outstanding TJ Menges on horn.
The final section of their 25 minute programme was ‘Irish Tune from County Derry’ by Percy Grainger and the finale from Downie’s fearsome test piece, ‘St. Magnus’ arranged by Lee Harrelson.
It provided Fountain City with the musical foundation stone to build their success, with the seven point musical margin only slightly reduced as they were placed third in the entertainment discipline behind Chicago and Dublin Silver.
If Fountain City’s victory came as little surprise, that certainly wasn’t the case with runner-up Chicago Brass Band, whose vast improvement and tighter sound developed by MD Colin Holman over the past year was a revelation at the contest.
In addition to receiving the $500 award from Woodwind & Brasswind and a $100 gift certification from Sam Ash, they also captured the ‘Most Entertaining Band’ award as well as the ‘Most Outstanding Percussion Section’, and the ‘Best Featured Soloist’—each coming with $100 gift certificates.
Their ‘Going for the Gold’ set opened with ‘Olympic Fanfare and Theme’ by John Williams, before Andrew Malovance delivered a superb prize winning rendition of the classic Stanley Boddington solo, ‘Silver Threads among the Gold’
Rimsky-Korsakov’s ‘March’ from ‘Le Coq d’Or’ and ‘Lux Arumque’ by Eric Whitacre, offered great contrast, before the band finished with the finale from the terrifyingly difficult ‘Goldberg 2012’ by Svein Henrik Giske.
All tied up
There was plenty of happy smiling faces on the players of Capital City Brass as they celebrated claiming the $250 plus gift certificate for $100 on offer for coming third under MD, William Waterman.
The band also claimed another $100 certificate for winning the ‘Best New Arrangement or Composition’ award.
Their theme of ‘All Tied Up’ featured a creative variety of tie references (some more tenuous than others) — starting out with a black tie server passing around drinks to the sounds of the humorous ‘Champagne’ by Goff Richards.
The Ohio railway inspired ‘The Carrollton March’ by A. Clifton, arranged by MD William Waterman won the ‘Arrangement/Composition’ award with its clever link to railroad track ties, whilst a ‘Rainy Day in Rio’ featured bass trombone soloist Christopher Sayles — and a linguistic drinking tie of ‘Mai Tai in Rio’!”
‘Soul Bossa Nova’ and the ‘Finale’ from ‘Symphony No 2’ (‘The Little Russian’), brought a highly enjoyable, musically creative programme to an end.
It also enabled Capital to deny the consistent Dublin Silver from claiming a fourth consecutive top three finish at the event, as they delivered a thought provoking ‘The Power of One’ themed set under MD, Tim Jameson.
This opened with vocal inspired ‘One Voice’, as well as items such as ‘Moses Get Down’ and Johan de Meij’s ‘Extreme Makeover’, ‘Kaddish’ by W. Francis McBeth, Paul Lovatt-Cooper’s ‘Walking with Heroes,’ and ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ prior to a reprise of ‘One Voice.’
Festival hosts Prairie Brass under Dallas Niermeyer, opened with PLC’s ‘When Thunder Calls’, before moving through ‘A Time for Peace’ featuring horn soloist Mary Gingrich, Rimsky-Korsakov’s ‘Procession of the Nobles’ and the premiere of the MDs arrangement of ‘Bright New Morning’ originally written for 12 harps by Janet Harbison.
The band ended with ‘Shrewsbury Fair’ by Paul Neville, followed by ‘Caravan’.
Just behind them came Illinois Brass Band, under Steve Squires, who took a musical excursion through Europe — from ‘Vienna Philharmonic Fanfare’ to ‘Irish Tune from County Derry,’ ‘Napoli’ featuring Mark Ponso on solo cornet, ‘Valdres March’ and Manuel de Falla’s ‘Ritual Fire Dance’ followed by three episodes of Howard Snell’s arrangement of excerpts from ‘An American in Paris’.
Finally, there was no theme to Eastern Iowa’s programme directed by Alexander Beamer, although the vigour of John Williams’ ‘Overture to ‘The Cowboys,’ the excellence of Dennis Madracek as soprano soloist with ‘On with the Motley’ and verve of ‘Ol Man River’ was marked.
Peter Graham’s delicately arranged ‘Swedish Folk Song,’ and Karl King’s ‘Melody Shop’ which won the ‘Best Performance of a March’ award, saw them end their set in fine fashion.
The weekend also saw the traditional fun and games of the ‘Buskers’ competition, with the audience prize fund of over $300 won by the Fountain City quartet who performed ‘Chinatown’.
As always the standard was exceptional, with Eastern Iowa’s ‘Good Will Hunters’, Dublin Silver’s ‘Screaming Shamrocks’, the ‘Prairie Dogs’ from Prairie Brass Band, two groups from Capital City Brass, ‘Slide Door Four’ and ‘Imanadu’ and ‘ Chicago Percussion’, from the Chicago Brass Band, all wowing with their humour, innovation and great playing.
And with such great entertainment on offer this year, make sure you do not miss out in 2014, with the contest once again being held at the Norris Cultural Arts Center in St. Charles, Illinois on November 8th!
With thanks to Michael Boo, Staff Writer for Drum Corps International
...there was to be no denying Fountain City a sixth US Open victory, as the band from Kansas City also claimed an invitation to compete the 2014 Brass in Concert Championship4BR
Adjudicators: Dr Paul Bauer & Ray Tizzard
1. Fountain City Brass (Joseph Parisi): 195/44 = 239
2. Chicago Brass Band (Colin Holman): 188/47 = 235
3. Capital City Brass Band (William Waterman): 185/44 = 229
4. Dublin Silver Band (Tim Jameson): 183/45 = 228
5. Prairie Brass Band (Dallas Niermeyer): 175/40 = 215
6= Illinois Brass Band (Steve Squires): 175/33 = 207*
6= Eastern Iowa Brass Band (Alexander Beamer): 173/34 = 207
*1 point time penalty
Most Entertaining Band: Chicago Brass Band
Best Soloist: Andrew Mlaovance (Chicago Brass Band)
Outstanding Percussion: Chicago Brass Band
Best New Arrangement/Composition: The Carrollton March — arr William Waterman
Best Performance of a march: The Melody Shop (Eastern Iowa)
Busker Award: Fountain City