2008 North American Brass Band Championships - Postcard from Albany


Lots of questions before hand but after a great weekend NABBA has much to be pleased about.

One hand on the trophy? Jo Parisi leads Fountain City to victory

The big question mark coming into this weekend was about the new contest format.  There was no gala band this year, but rather the championship section bands were featured. 

While many were quite wary coming into the weekend, the overall response after the event appears to be quite positive.  With the suspense built by the various awards, the audience friendly programs the bands brought the table (especially BBC, FCBB & JMU), as well as the overall quality of the championship section, NABBA has a great deal to be proud of.

Reciprocal relationship

There was really a genuine reciprocal relationship:  The audience members enjoyed hearing the fresh programs of the top bands, and the Championship Section bands embraced playing for such an appreciative audience.

How do these bands “across the pond” really stack up? I would love to see them all compete in the Grand Shield this year. If there were 4 qualification spots (like the Senior Trophy and Senior Cup) rather than the one or two that actually exist…I dare say we’d get one or two bands in with a shout of a British Open qualification place and at most, one band relegated). In fact, should Fountain City choose to go to Butlins, they may come back with some of that large prize money – they really are on top form at present.

Great Honors!

And how about the Honors Section! 

Even though there are only a few bands competing at NABBA compared to the UK, it would be nice to see our lower section bands get invites to Pontins, Bugle, Crawley and Buxton like the championship section bands here that have in the past been given an invite to the British Open, Masters and Brass in Concert.

The improvement in North American brass bands has become much deeper than just the top few Championship Section bands and is now really resonating into the lower sections.

Sad death

Sadly, we may have seen the death of ‘Extreme Makeover’ as a test piece in the USA.  Last week, Dalewool Auckland Brass was slated in Australia for their choice (as Columbus were this week).  Furthermore, the percussion demands are probably too high to make it a set piece.  It is truly fantastic writing, a fantastic piece and will be missed if it disappears from the brass band repertoire here.

Unfortunately we were only able to catch glimpses of the lower sections as we were a bit understaffed.  Spires won the Challenge Section (Natural State can perhaps feel a bit unlucky) and looking at the adjudicator’s scores, Commonwealth may have more success in a lower section.

The Explorer Section found Tri-State win their third title in a tight contest and we are sure Bend in the River will be back to give them a good fight again next year.


The solo and ensemble contests on the Friday were well attended and the performers seemed to enjoy the limelight with many an inspired performance. 

Fountain City and James Madison took up a large percentage of the haul (it was a Fountain City sweep in the low brass slow melody), but it was nice to see players from the lower sections also finish in many of the prizes.

The weekend used to have a few highlights and strong performances, but now there are so many quality performances it can almost be sensory overload.

Pat Herak


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