2013 North American Brass Band Championships — As it happened

All the action from the 2013 North American Brass Band Championships — as it happened.

General • Monday 15, 13:29:15

4BR Editor Iwan Fox talks conductor and adjudicator Michael J Garasi.

He talks about the standard of playing on show in the Second and Third Sections, what the future holds for him now with his move to Texas, and his desire to get back into brass band conducting in the UK.

• Sunday 14, 10:39:32

4BR Editor Iwan Fox talks to Dr Stephen Allen after he led Princeton Brass Band to their first North American Brass Band Championship National title in Cincinnati.

General • Sunday 14, 10:37:17

4BR Editor Iwan Fox talks to Joe Parisi, conductor of second placed Fountain City Brass at the 2013 North American Brass Band Championships in Cincinnati.

General • Sunday 14, 08:29:49

Championship Section:

Set Work (in order):
Thomas Palmatier/Johan de Meij/Ray Tizzard
Own Choice (in order): John Lambert/Peter Meechan/Stephen Lytle

The overall score is weighted 60% set work, 40% own choice

1. Princeton Brass Band (Dr Stephen Allen) = 276.00
S/W: 93/93/92
O/C: 90/91/92
2. Fountain City Brass (Jo Parisi) = 275.40
S/W: 90/90/91
O/C: 91/96/95
3. Atlantic Brass Band (Salvatore Scarpa) = 275.20
S/W: 89/91/90
O/C: 92/95/96
4. James Madison University (Kevin Steers) = 273.00
S/W: 88/88/89
O/C: 94/93/98
5. Brass of the Potomac (Stephen Bulla) = 267.00
S/W: 85/86/86
O/C: 95/90/97
6. Chicago Brass Band (Colin Holman) = 259.60
S/W: 77/83/80
O/C: 96/94/99
7. Brass Band of Columbus (Brian Stevens) = 255.80
S/W: 80/81/84
O/C: 89/89/94
8. Brass Band of Central Florida (Chad Shoopman) = 251.80
S/W: 75/80/82
O/C: 93/88/93

First Section:

Set Work & Own Choice (in order):
Johan de Meij/Thomas Palmatier/Ray Tizzard

The overall score is weighted 60% set work, 40% own choice

1. Five Lakes Silver Band (Neil Barlow) = 282.40
S/W: 94/94/92
O/C: 95/95/96
2. Central Ohio Brass Band (Jessica Sneeringer) = 267.40
S/W: 91/89/87
O/C: 94/90/84
3. Oakland University Brass (Kenneth Kroesche) = 257.40
S/W: 87/86/86
O/C: 85/83/87
4. New England Brass (Stephen Bulla) = 257.20
S/W: 85/85/88
O/C: 84/83/89
5. Motor City Brass (Craig Strain) = 242.00
S/W: 82/76/84
O/C: 80/81/81
6. Illinois Brass Band (Stephen Squires) = 240.00
S/W: 84/78/78
O/C: 81/80/79
7. Madison Brass Band (Craig Mason) = 237.20
S/W: 77/81/78
O/C: 79/82/78
8. Natural State Brass Band (Rusty Morris) = 236.20
S/W: 70/79/80
O/C: 82/83/82

Second Section:

Set Work & Own Choice (in order):
John Lambert/Peter Meechan/Michael J Garasi

The overall score is weighted 60% set work, 40% own choice

1. Chesapeake Silver Cornet Brass (Dr Russell Murray) = 280.00
Set Work: 95/93/94
Own Choice:96/90/91
2. The Brass Band of Huntsville(W. David Spencer) = 274.60
Set Work: 94/88/93
Own Choice: 95/89/90
3. Eastern Iowa Brass Band (Kate Wohlman) = 269.40
Set Work: 96/85/92
Own Choice: 97/78/89

Third Section:

Set Work & Own Choice (in order):
John Lambert/Peter Meechan/Michael J Garasi

The overall score is weighted 60% set work, 40% own choice

1. Chapel Brass (Dr Keith Wilkinson) = 282.40
Set Work: 97/93/96
Own Choice: 96/85/96
2. Bend in the River Brass (Faril Bunner) = 258.40
Set Work: 95/71/90
Own Choice: 95/73.5/93.5

Youth Brass Band:
Adjudicators: Dr Wes Branstine/Ray Tizzard/Michael J Garasi

No points given

1. Triangle Youth Brass Band (Tony Granados)

Youth Open:
Adjudicators: Dr Wes Branstine/Ray Tizzard/Michael J Garasi

No points given

1. Triangle Youth Brass Ensemble (Jessie Rackley)

General • Sunday 14, 00:00:48


1. Princeton
2. Fountain City
3. Atlantic Brass
4. JMU
5. Potomac
6. Chicago
7. Columbus
8. BBC Florida

General • Saturday 13, 21:42:22

4BR Overall Prediction:

No doubt for us where the title should be heading as Fountain City was the class act over the two days.

Just behind them we think James Madison may just claim second place with Brass Band of Central Florida close behind in third. Behind them it could well be Atlantic, Princeton and Potomac with Chicago and Columbus just a little further back

Overall Prediction:

1. Fountain City
2. James Madison University
3. Brass Band of Central Florida
4. Atlantic Brass
5. Princeton
6. Potomac

General • Saturday 13, 21:18:18

4BR Prediction:

What an enjoyable contest - made all the better with such a diverse choice of music and the wonderful support given by the packed audience here deep in the sacred temple of the Cincinnati Masonic Hall.

Fountain City emphasised their class today with a fine performance that should secure them the title - although who will fill the podium places is up for grabs.

We go for Florida in second place today ahead of James Madison University and Princeton with Atlantic and Potomac close behind.

Own Choice Prediction:

1. Fountain City
2. Brass Band of Central Florida
3. James Madison University
4. Princeton
5. Atlantic
6. Potomac

General • Saturday 13, 21:11:13

Championship Section:
8. Atlantic Brass Band (Salvatore Scarpa)
English Heritage (George Lloyd)

What a bold defence of their title with a finely shaped, musically coherent performance of one of the most underrated test pieces of modern times.

The problem was that it was littered with some nasty errors - and we do mean little bobby dazzlers from wrong notes to miscounting and bells Quasimodo would have had the hump playing. It was as if amid the Heritage Tudor homes of Stratford upon Avon there appeared a couple of council houses with burnt out cars on the front garden.

What a pity as their was so much to enjoy with the approach of the MD is creating the musical template - and with such a fine solo cornet lead too. Too many errors have out pay to their title winning aspirations we fear though.

General • Saturday 13, 20:37:16

Championship Section:
7. James Madison University (Kevin Steers)
Montage (Peter Graham)

A very well worked, free flowing account of a triptych that starts with a homage to Lutoslawski and ends with an arrow pinging you in the chest from William Tell.

MD takes no prisoners with the tempo, which just asked a bit too much at times, but it certainly gave the music a real sense of bubbling viscosity. The middle section may just have need the odd touch on the handbrake though - despite the fine individual efforts from the main soloists.

The dislocated rhtymic patterns of the third movement meant that the MD was a bit like Bernie the Bolt off the Golden Shot in places, but the drive and pace meant that the arrow flew straight and true, even if the feathers were a bit untidy in the ensemble.

Just that perennial question mark over the slowing down to close in the last couple of bars. When do arrows slow down before smacking you in the heart? Crazy Horse never sent over a slow googly at General Custer.

A good one though - and a good choice by the MD to show off a hard working, youthful band.

General • Saturday 13, 20:02:04

Championship Section:
6. Brass Band of Central Florida (Chad Shoopman)
Dreams (Bertrand Moren)

A dream inspired by Salvador Dali meets the Exorcist via Hieronymus Bosch: You really do wonder what Sigmund Freud would have made of this stuff on the couch?

Great playing - but its scored so loudly that you fail to hear the real detail in this lively acoustic. Plenty of really classy solo work from cornet and trom in particular, but the sheer weight of volume at times just weighs things down. The run for home is something out of Death Race 2000 - my word it goes like the clappers and is played with such drive and adrenaline.

Like the old Monty Python sketch - even the quiet bits were loud in this one. Sheer eyes on stalks excitement, but we could have done with just the odd touch of dreamlike beauty. They have put themselves back in the title race though.

General • Saturday 13, 19:08:41

Championship Section:
5. Chicago Brass Band (Colin Holman)
Audivi Media Nocte (Oliver Waespi)

Now then - when does musical ambition outstretch technical reality? When you try to conquer a leviathan like this - that's when.

Lots of enthusiasm and endeavour with some fine individual efforts in the twin trio features, but that was never going to be enough here. Why did the soloists face the band - it needed to have sheer pawn broker sized balls of steel to come off.

The ensemble lacked the 10,000 volt surge to animate the body of this brilliant scoring from the word go - 1,000 was never enough to set the pulse racing. It needed to throb like Sir Alex Ferguson's nose after a Man Utd defeat - but it only glowed like a 20 watt Xmas tree light in too many places despite the collective effort.

A choice that held so much promise, but somehow didn't deliver.

General • Saturday 13, 18:45:31

Championship Section:
4. Princeton Brass Band (Dr Stephen Allen)
Rococo Variations (Edward Gregson)

What an interesting reading of a complex, mature score - full of character and understanding by the MD, packed to the gunnels with emotion. This was a Rococo understanding of a musical Arthur Negus - laid out with genuine affection for the subject matter.

There was so much red in tooth and claw blood curdling playing on display that the more obvious weaknesses in execution could very nearly be overlooked - although not quite.

Messy, passionate, imprecise, scruffy - and a bit of a delight on a weekend when the head has ruled the heart too often.

Bravo MD - and bravo band! One that stirred the musical loins this.

General • Saturday 13, 18:06:55

Championship Section:
3. Brass of the Potomac (Stephen Bulla)
Titan's Progress (Hermann Pallhuber)

A portrait of Titan as a classical accountant hero - all facts and figures and a heart made of emotional stone. This really cried out for a dose of Greek economy spend and be damned musicality.

Precise, accurate, detailed but laid out like a profit and loss account. The detail was all there for scrutiny, but where was the real wit, boastfulness and lust for life? Titan was a flawed character - but a bit of a lad too. This was playing that needed to rid itself of the health and safety tag.

Great technical playing, but it was done by numbers. Much to admire, but it would have really come to life if it had thrown caution to the wind a bit more.

General • Saturday 13, 17:34:34

Championship Section:
2. Fountain City (Joseph Parisi)
Breath of Souls (Paul Lovatt-Cooper)

Quality playing that finally found its feet after a start that was overwrought and submerged the detail in this lively Masonic acoustic. The old bones of Grand old Poobars past were shaking at the healthy dynamics to start.

When it found its place it did so with brave cadenza choices played with real artistic aplomb topped by the juiciest of cherry sopranos - bravo matey lad! The filigree work was top class - even if you had to cup a ear to catch it at times.

There is so much to enjoy with the bravura approach that enthusiasm just gets the better in places - bit only places. A great finish though - just on the edge, but what an edge to play chicken with.

Audience goes bonkers - and they were not wrong. A high class one but was sheer excitement enough to claim the title? We think so.

General • Saturday 13, 17:11:02

Championship Section:
1. Brass Band of Columbus (Brian Stevens)
Between the Moon and Mexico (Philip Sparke)

A decent old bash at Sparke's take on the distance between the lunar landings and a trip to Guadalajara - with plenty of brio and bash, but not quite as hot as a jalapeño chilli that it needed to be.

The dynamic range was compact and controlled, which seemed OK, but what this really needed was a touch of élan - a bit of Zorro swashbuckling his way through the baddies. There was much to admire, but a bit like little Mexican fly weight boxers, the best smack you in the kidneys too with the odd well placed punch too.

Enjoyable stuff, but it may find itself battling with the midfielders today.

General • Saturday 13, 17:05:00

Championship Section:


1. Brass Band of Columbus (Brian Stevens)
2. Fountain City (Joseph Parisi)
3. Brass Band of the Potomac (Stephen Bulla)
4. Princeton Brass Band (Dr Stephen Allen)
5. Chicago Brass Band (Colin Holman)
6. Brass Band of Central Florida (Chad Shoopman)
7. James Madison University (Kevin Steers)
8. Atlantic Brass (Salvatore Scarpa)

General • Saturday 13, 15:15:24

We have finally come to the last band in the First Section in an contest that has varied in quality - and choices of repertoire.

Nobody really mastered 'Checkmate' - it seemed to be out of the comfort zone for all the bands today, despite the brave efforts and excellent direction from the MDs.

The own choice selections were interesting - from Harmony Music to Lyonesse via Year of the Dragon, The Bandsman's Challenge, Essence of Time, Rhapsody on a Theme by Purcell, Fanfare and Love Songs and Laudate Dominum.

An interesting amalgam in anyone's book to try and sort out.

General • Saturday 13, 14:14:06

This is going to be a long old day today if things follow the official time table.

The Championship Section starts at 5.00pm (local time) with the last of the eight contenders taking to the stage at 9.15pm.

Then we have a youth band starting at 9.50pm before we get to the results - and all will be announced from solos and ensembles all the way to the declaration of the new champions.

General • Saturday 13, 13:29:40

One of the nice things to hear in the First Section contest is the relaxed way in which the bands are allowed a 'warm-up' - either a hymn tune or just a communal tune up.

It may just settle the nerves a bit before they have to perform in a hall acoustic they haven't played in before.

As for Checkmate?

What a great piece that could perhaps do with a revisit especially in the full four dance mode that is played here. It could also do with someone having another look at the scoring and colouring. It's not the most exotic arrangement in the world by Eric Ball.

General • Saturday 13, 11:51:45

We are back at the Cincinnati Masonic Hall to enjoy some of the rest of the action that is taking place in the other sections.

The First Section bands have been battling with all four dances from the ballet Checkmate - some finding it tougher going than others, especially as they have to play their own choice selection too, which so far has seen some decent efforts on 'The Bandsman's Challenge', 'The Year of the Dragon', Rhapsody on a Theme by Purcell' and 'The Essence of Time'.

There are another four bands to go before the top section own choices start at 5.00pm.

General • Friday 12, 22:34:03

4BR Round -up:

That's it for today - and we think Fountain City will go to bed this evening feeling that they may have one hand on the trophy after a very well defined contest performance put them ahead of the field by a length or two.

Nothing is for certain as James Madison, Atlantic and Florida are close behind, with Chicago a bit further back,, but it was a contest that had just the one band that really nailed it today.

4BR Prediction:

1. Fountain City
2. James Madison
3. Atlantic Brass
4. Brass Band of Central Florida
5. Chicago Brass

General • Friday 12, 22:31:12

8. Chicago Brass (Colin Holman)

This was Elgar portrayed in the boldest of colours - with the heart very much displayed on the Edwardian sleeve. The lack of reserve was apparent, but in the context of the approach by the MD that was understandable.

The emotion has been laid on thickly with the MD bringing real elasticity to the music - but you wonder if this has really captured the sense of Elgarian restraint that is required. A very different take for certain - but one that left a few too many questions for us.

General • Friday 12, 21:55:59

7. Fountain City (Joseph Parisi)

Not everything quite came off, but there was an authentic stamp of Elgarian class about this performance.

Businesslike, artisan playing - nothing overdone and all executed with sensible aplomb - aided by some outstanding solo contributions. This captured the straight laced Edwardian emotion to a tee and still had a bit of flash in the trouser department too - a bit like the old boy himself. The intention was crystal clear from the MD and so was the majority of the execution. A comfortable leader for us.

General • Friday 12, 21:31:39

6. Atlantic Brass Band (Salvatore Scarpa)

A bit of a puzzling one this. A finely wrought reading but executed with so many blemishes that it was like a portrait of Elgar with a Hitler moustache in places.

The MD certainly knew his Elgarian onions, but the minor error count got to the annoying stage that it almost spoilt the musical picture. Not quite, but it took the gloss off for certain. Top class MD, classy reading, but an inconsistent execution.

General • Friday 12, 21:03:21

5. James Madison University Brass (Kevin Stees)

An interesting one this from the MD - perhaps the first conductor to reveal that under the moustache old Elgar wasn't quite the perfect English gent his missus set him out to be

Lots of purposeful playing and a neat acerbic take on the emotional content too. There was much to enjoy from this one - a study in an imperfect man. The mistakes and errors may cost in execution but this perhaps got closest so far to revealing the true man under the big moustache.

General • Friday 12, 20:36:44

4. Brass Band of Columbus (Brian Stevens)

A study in all things Elgar through the musical prism of American musical understanding. A performance of merit but one that somehow never had a hint of Elgarian sensibilities for us. Everything was in its place and there was much to admire and commend about the execution - but by heck it sounded so out of place.

Don't know - nothing much wrong, but somehow it never sounded as if it crossed about half way across the Atlantic towards Blighty.

General • Friday 12, 20:16:29

3. Princeton Brass (Dr Stephen Allen)

Dare one say it in these parts - but this was a very English and very Elgar in approach. So much to enjoy with this - we very nearly started singing Land of Hope and Glory.

The detail was a bit lacking in places, but by heck the MD laid on the stiff upper lip like the 24th Foot and Mouth holding the line against the Khasi in Carry in up the the Kyhber. This was a very stylish performance that captured the essence of Edwardian pomp without worrying too much about the detail underneath.

General • Friday 12, 20:13:47

Just in case you have missed it this is the draw:

Set Work: Elgar Variations (Martin Ellerby)

1. Brass of the Potomac ( Stephen Bulla)
2. Brass Band of Central Florida (Chad Shoopman)
3. Princeton Brass Band (Dr Stephen Allen)
4. Brass Band of Columbus (Brian Stevens)
5. James Madison University (Kevin Stees)
6. Atlantic Brass (Salvatore Scarpa)
7. Fountain City (Joseph Parisi)
8. Chicago Brass Band (Colin Holman)

General • Friday 12, 19:44:16

2. Brass Band of Central Florida (Chad Shoopman)

A more modernist take on all things Edwardian pink across the globe this.

More detail, dynamic contrast and updated musicality, that did not quite linger as affectionately on an Empire lost.: Not quite a the thin red line. Not as subtle as you would have expected, but there was plenty of quality about the execution with the detail and precision really coming through.

Enjoyable contest playing that had a great deal of thought put into it by the MD. This had a stamp of quality about it.

General • Friday 12, 19:13:45

1. Brass of the Potomac (Stephen Bulla)

What a well shaped performance that had so much subtle phrasing and tasteful dynamic contrast.

Not everything technically came together, but there was so much to enjoy in the way the MD brought a refined sense of musicality to the proceedings. You could almost feel the brush of the old man's moustache on this - very empirical.

Not quite Pomp & Circumstance in final sections as it got a touch tired, but there was a stamp of Edwardian splendour about this.

General • Friday 12, 19:11:05

We are getting ready for the first band in the Championship Section at the North American Championships.....

General • Friday 12, 14:50:47

The rest of Friday is taken up with the remaining solo and ensemble sections - with plenty of entrants in each category too.

The percussion section has eight contenders, whilst there are 23 in the low brass and plenty more in the other sections. This is what a real National Solo & Ensemble Championship could be like in the UK.

It will be interesting to hear how the top bands tackle the stylistic challenges of 'Elgar Variations', whilst 'Four Dances from Checkmate' in the First Section seems a very touch set work choice.

General • Friday 12, 14:20:19

The main Championship Section action starts here at 7.00pm with the set work, 'Elgar Variations' which we will be covering live on the site.

Haven spoken to a number of the conductors of the top bands today they all seem confident of doing well - especially as they have pushed the boats with their own choice selections on Saturday.

We will be getting a Titan's Progress, Dreams, Breath of Souls, Between the Moon and Mexico, Rococo Variations, Audivi Media Nocte, Montage and English Heritage.

That's quite a bit of confidence then....

General • Friday 12, 13:42:45

Interesting place this - with some interesting people too - and not just the welcoming bandsmen and women.

Some old boys of the Masonic Lodge here include a certain J. Edgar Hoover - a 33 degree mason. That may explain a lot then.

The ensemble and solo playing today has been pretty good with plenty of people taking part - including a number of percussion ensembles.

General • Friday 12, 12:31:02

Finally made our way to the main auditorium of the Cincinnati Masonic Centre - and it is perhaps the oddest venue I have ever been at for a National Championship.

Mock pillars from Solomon's temple, heraldic shields and the signs of the Mason's tools of their trade are all around us - its like the film set of an Errol Flynn 'Ivanhoe' meets King Tut.

The lights are down and we are listening to the low brass soloists in the company of the wonderful Michael J Garasi - who looks as usual like a million bucks.

General • Friday 12, 09:38:38

Enjoyed a fine breakfast at the hotel - served by a wonderful young lady who recognised a Welsh accent as she had been on a gap year studying at Swansea University.

What she missed most about Wales was Prawn Cocktail crisps and half and half chips and rice with curry sauce. Good to see the mother country made such an impression on her.

Off to check out the Masonic Centre now where the contest is being held, so I've got the funny handshake ready if I bump into any Grand Poobar type.

General • Thursday 11, 20:43:24

Less than 24 hours to go before the start of the North American Championships and it has been one heck of a journey getting from South Wales to Cincinnati for the 4BR Editor.

A 5 hour delay because of rain on the brakes in Manchester (!) put a huge spanner in the works - with the final connection from Philadelphia Airport earmarked for 9.10pm.

If everything went to plan then there may be an outside chance of a pint in the bar before the morning.

Pontardulais Town Band - Annual Concert - The storytellers present.....

Saturday 22 June • Pontarddulais Comprehensive School, Caecerrig Road, Pontarddulais. SA4 8PD

Boarshurst Silver Band - Sunday Brass Concert - Strata Brass

Sunday 23 June • Boarshurst Band Club, Greenbridge Lane OL3 7EW

Wotton-under-Edge Silver Band - Foden's Band

Sunday 23 June • Renishaw Innovation Centre,. New Mills, Kingswood, Wotton-under-Edge,. Gloucestershire GL12 8JR

West Midlands Police Band - Sovereign Brass and Brett Baker (Trombone)

Sunday 23 June • Tipton Green Methodist Church. Park Lane West. Tipton. Sandwell. DY1 4QF

Brass Bands England - Youth Fest 2024

Friday 28 June • Barnsley Civic, Hanson Street, Barnsley S70 2HZ

wantage silver band

June 19 • Wantage Band (L&SC Championship, ranked 12th on Brassstats.com) are looking for their next Principal Eb Bass. The band are looking for an experienced musician that can lead the bass section and perform with confidence at concerts and on the contest stage.

Concert Brass Poynton

June 17 • Required:. Concert Brass, Poynton Stockport, Seek: A Solo Cornet - Bb Bass - Bass Trombone - Tenor Horn. No Contesting Not a learners Band. Rehearsing on Wednesday Evenings between 8.00 to 10.00pm (with a short comfort break and cup of tea at 9.00pm)..

Concert Brass Poynton

June 17 • Concert Brass, Poynton Stockport, Seek: A Solo Cornet - Bb Bass - Bass Trombone - Tenor Horn. . No Contesting Not a learners Band. Rehearsing on Wednesday Evenings between 8.00 to 10.00pm (with a short comfort break and cup of tea at 9.00pm).

James Chamberlain

BMus (Hons) PGCE
Conductor, Teacher


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