2007 North American Brass Band Championships - Postcard from Louisville


The North American Championships are growing in popularity and signage it seems as the movement here goes from strength to strength due to excellent organisation and a real hunger for success from all the participants.

Pointing in the right direction: The art may be unclear but the signs weren't

The silver edition of the North American Brass Band Championships was everything the organizers could have hoped.  There were a record number of bands (28) and a record number of youth bands (5).  The conspicuous presence of youth at this year's contest is an excellent testament to the growth of brass banding in North America.

Additionally, this year marked the first time that the NABBA Championships were held in the same venue in back to back years; the efficiency of the contest was noticeable. First, most participants, exhibitors and guests knew exactly where to find all the various rooms for performances, exhibits, food, instrument storage and warm-ups.  Those guests there for the first time found more signs than ever to help them find their way.

Secondly, many minor changes were made to improve upon last years contest.  These changes could not have occurred before, had NABBA had to start from scratch at a new venue. 

A full hall before Chicago takes the stage

Adjudicator "boxes" were put closer together so that less of the auditorium would be taken up and more room would be available for audience members.  This was especially important as most of the Championship Section bands played to a full hall. 

Another addition were the curtains to help deaden the hall, and this made the listening experience so much better for the audience members. Also, making a debut to the contest were the stand banners that had been produced by TOR designs.  They gave a bit of added class to the bands as they took the stage.

The banners were brought in to honor of the 25th anniversary of the NABBA Championships.  There would also be other testaments to the growing North American tradition including a 25-year history book on sale at the NABBA table, as well as a 25th anniversary display, which included listing of all NABBA bands past and present as well as a NABBA scrapbook with old pictures.

Reading Band
Members from various bands join together for the reading band

Another addition to this year's contest was the return of the Reading band and Clinics from some of the adjudicators.  The reading band is the opportunity for any brass bander to participate in a "pick up" group to play through new literature provided by various publishers.

The Friday night clinics included a tenor horn session (Sheona White), composing and arranging clinics (Stephen Bulla and Rodney Newton) and a workshop on rehearsal planning and preparation (Colonel Thomas Palmatier).  One might expect band members to want to do anything but clinics late on a Friday before contest, but there was good attendance, with the tenor clinic being beyond capacity.

After some growing pains, NABBA is solidly on its feet and already preparing for a future with even more bands, more soloists and more enthusiasm in brass bands.  In fact, since the start of the Championships in 1983, there has been a stead growth of about 2 bands every three years, which means it shouldn't be long before NABBA hits 30 bands.

To help clear more time for more bands and highlight the rising quality of the Championship Section, next year's Saturday Evening Gala Event will featuring the Top Bands performing their own choice piece.  If the quality of this year's own choice selections is any precursor as to how next year will go, it will be a fantastic event.

With the new online and more frequent format of the NABBA Bridge news is being spread even quicker and in a more reader-friendly format.  New NABBA supported events are popping up including the NABBA Recording of the Year Contest and the Ohio Brass Arts Festival.  One only dares to guess where NABBA will be 25-years from now!!


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