2008 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: 42

Principal Players:
Principal Cornet: Bob Hinckley
Principal Euphonium: Gail Robertson
Soprano Cornet: Dee McAfee
Solo Trombone: Kerry Couch
Solo Horn: Juan Berrios
Flugel: John Copella
Solo Baritone: Steve Hewitt
Eb Tuba: John-Mark Hemphill
Percussion: Landon Baker

Michael J. GarasiRecent U.S. Open Results:
2007: 2nd (M. Garasi) (8)
2006: Winners (M. Garasi) (4)
2005: Winners (M. Garasi) (4)
2004: Winners (M. Garasi) (4)

2007 Programme:
Star Spangled Banner (arr. Williams/ trans. Bulla), Candide Overture (Bernstein/ arr. Snell), On With the Motley (Leoncavallo/ arr. Farr), Bennet's Triumphal (Ribble/ arr. Robertson), Lux Aurumque (Whitacre/ arr. Garasi), and Malaga (Holman/ arr. Garasi)

The BBCF and Michael J. Garasi will surely return to Chicago with exciting choreography, Latin jazz, and much more. Based on both their talent and contesting experience, they (along with Fountain City) have to be the heavy favorites, and they may have to start saving their dollars for a trip across to Brass in Concert next November.

Player to listen out for:
New to the BBCF this year is tenor horn soloist, Juan Berrios.

Reg VardyEastern Iowa Brass Band
Conductor: Casey Thomas

4BR Ranking: N/R

Principal Players:
Principal Cornet: Paul Waech
Principal Euphonium: Todd Bransky
Soprano Cornet: Joan Force
Solo Trombone: Matt Driscoll
Solo Horn: Judy Stine
Flugel: Dan Davies
Solo Baritone: Melissa Karr
Eb Tuba: Bob Driggs
Percussion: Dave Huntley

Reg VardyRecent U.S. Open Results:
2007: 4th (C Thomas) (1)
2006: 5th (Dickinson) (6)
2005: 6th (Dickinson) (2)
2004: Did Not Compete

2007 Programme:
Knight Templar (Allan), Light Walk (Gott), Party Piece (Sparke), Psalm 23 (Goodall/ arr. Wormald) and Barn Dance & Cowboy Hymn (Sparke)

The band has shown tremendous improvement since Casey Thomas has taken over as Musical Director.  EIBB separated themselves from many of the bands at last years contest and will hope to show they truly belong with the "big boys." The big breakthrough may well occur this weekend.

Player to listen out for:
Flugel Dan Davies provides a nice anchor for the horn section.

Fountain City Brass BandFountain City Brass Band
Conductor: Joe Parisi

4BR Ranking: 48

Principal Players:
Principal Cornet: Alan Wenger
Principal Euphonium: Lee Harrelson
Soprano Cornet: Steve Malloy
Solo Trombone: Michael Davidson
Solo Horn: TJ Menges
Flugel: Matt Vangjel
Solo Baritone: Helen Tyler
Eb Tuba: Tom Stein

Reg VardyRecent U.S. Open Results:
2007: Winners (J. Parisi) (3)
2006: 3rd (Reinhart) (7)
2005: 3rd (Reinhart) (7)
2004: 2nd (Reinhart) (6)

2007 Programme:
ORB (Anderson), Carnival of Venice (Arban/ arr. Catherall/Harrelson), Planet Krypton (Williams/ arr. Harrelson), Mars (Holst/, arr. Roberts), Luke & Leia (Williams/ arr. Duncan), Cantina Band (a la Sing, Sing, Sing), and (Williams/ Prima/ arr. Harrelson) Finale from Music of the Spheres (Sparke)

Fountain City are on quite a run, having won their last three domestic contests.  They will surely look to keep their streak going and have the players and MD to pull it off. Victory will confirm their domestic dominence and whet the appetite for a trip to Brass in Concert.

Players to listen out for:
The euphonium duo of Lee Harrelson and Nate Gay are arguably the top euphonium section on this side of the pond.

Madison Brass BandMadison Brass Band
Conductor: Craig Mason

4BR Ranking: N/R

Principal Players:
Principal Cornet: Matthew Sundell
Soprano Cornet: Jerry Jacobsen
Solo Horn: Andrea Palm
Flugel: John Zwolanek
Bb Tuba: Mike Forbes

Craig MasonRecent U.S. Open Results:
2007: Did Not Compete
2006: Did Not Compete
2005: Did Not Compete
2004: Did Not Compete

2007 Programme:
Did Not Compete

Madison Brass Band has been steadily growing over the past several years and has attracted some fine players.  This will be their first contesting appearance.  It will be interesting to see which has a greater impact on their performance: the quality of their players or their contesting inexperience.

Player to listen out for:
Tuba player Mike Forbes is well known for his virtuosity.

Milwaukee Festival BrassMilwaukee Festival Brass
Conductor: Dr. Patricia Backhaus

4BR Ranking: NR

Principal Players:
Principal Cornet: Thomas Traugott
Principal Euphonium: David Meyer
Soprano Cornet: David Magoon
Flugel: Brian Bolling
Solo Baritone: Deb Gilbert
Eb Tuba: Raphael Da'villa Petrie
Bb Tuba: Jeff Semrow

Dr. Patricia BackhausRecent U.S. Open Results:
2007: 7th (P. Backhaus) (7)
2006: 8th (P. Backhaus) (3)
2005: 7th (P. Backhaus) (3)
2004: Did Not Compete

2007 Programme:
There's No Business Like Show Business (Berlin/ arr. Richards), Russian Sailor's Dance (Gliere/ arr. Gourley), Little Red Bird (arr. Richards), Berliner Luft (Lincke) and Bucky Badger (arr. Becker)

Annually, the band has finished near the bottom of the pack, but the fact, even though the band keeps improving by great strides, is truly a testament to the rest of the field.  They are ceatching up quickly though. With a more technically challenging program this year, they just may be able to sneak up on some of the bands.

Player to listen out for:
Cornet player Thomas Traugott is a tremedous leader and centre point for the band.

Ohio Brass BandOhio Brass Band
Conductor: Dr. Paul Droste

4BR Ranking: N/R

Principal Players:
Principal Cornet: Tony Philip
Principal Euphonium: Steve Bigley
Soprano Cornet: Kim Dekay
Solo Trombone: Jessica Sneeringer
Solo Horn: Jen Kirby
Flugel: George Zonders
Solo Baritone: Diana Herak
Eb Tuba: Patrick Herak
Percussion: Dean Appleman

Dr. Paul DrosteRecent U.S. Open Results:
2007: Did Not Compete
2006: Did Not Compete
2005: Did Not Compete
2004: Did Not Compete

2006 Programme:
Did Not Compete

Paul Droste is one of the most successful conductors in North American brass band history.  This new band will be making their contest debut and Droste will be aiming to make quite an impression on the audience (and adjudicators).  The big question mark is whether or not this new ensemble will have gelled enough to compete with the other bands.

Player to listen out for:
Tony Philip is a natural on the cornet and will surely be a hit.

Prairie Brass BandPrairie Brass Band
Conductor: Dallas Niermeyer

4BR Ranking: NR

Principal Players:
Principal Cornet: Karen Griffin
Principal Euphonium: Paul Eakley
Soprano Cornet: Mark Fenne
Solo Trombone: Jason Martzke
Solo Horn: Jeff Philips
Flugel: Claire Bradford
Solo Baritone: Michelle Micheletti
Eb Tuba: Kurt Gildow
Percussion: Christopher Karabin

Dallas NiermeyerRecent U.S. Open Results:
2007: 5th (D. Niermeyer) (4)
2006: 4th (D. Niermeyer) (5)
2005: 5th (D. Niermeyer) (4)
2004: 4th (D. Niermeyer) (1)

2007 Programme:
Bells (McDougall/ arr. D. Niermeyer), Bravura (Graham), British Bandsman (Broadbent), Robin Hood and his Merry Men (Korngold/ arr. Niermeyer), Echano (Mangione/ arr. Nieyermeyer)

Prairie has added some fine new players to their ranks and all will be eager to see how these improvements affect the band. They are withing touching distance of the very best here now and are one of the most consistent bands in the country. Add that little extra sparkle and they could well battle it out for the top prizes. 

Player to listen out for:
Flugel player Claire Bradford is a new recruit from the Tredegar Band in Wales, so she will know what it takes to play at the top level.


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