Dr Lee Harrelson is to become the new Executive Director of the US Open Brass Band Championships.
It marks a new era for the contest which for the past 16 years has been successfully organised by founders Dallas and Clark Niermeyer and which has provided North American banding with a highly respected entertainment format event in Arlington Heights near Chicago.
Dr. Harrelson is a Professor of Music at Missouri Western State University, as well as being the acclaimed euphonium player and Artistic Director of Fountain City Band from Kansas.
In partnership with his wife Helen he is a founder and Executive Director of the Fountain City Youth Brass Academy and National Youth Brass Band of America and will work with Brighouse & Rastrick Band this autumn alongside Prof David King.
He told 4BR: "I attended the very first US Open as a spectator and was blown away. For the next 13 years I competed as a member of the Fountain City Brass Band and always loved the competition.
The creativity required to excel in an entertainment format inspires bands and entertains audiences. Having known Clark Niermeyer, President of the US Open for many years now I'm humbled by their invitation to take on this role."
In response Clark Niermeyer said: "My father and I have been discussing the future of the US Open with a goal of seeing it realizing its full potential.
We both have a deep respect and friendship with Lee. His passion for the contest and banding as well as his accomplishments are impressive. We agreed that he would make a wonderful addition to the team."
Looking towards that future, Dr Harrelson told 4BR: "My vision is that the event will continue to become one of the finest brass band competitions in the world. This will be achieved by learning from successful similar format competitions around the world, as well as a team effort from the greater brass band community to inspire ideas for growth.
I value input from my colleagues and will call upon them to help mould the event in a productive and transparent manner. It will be an inclusive competition open to bands from anywhere in the world and of any performing ability."
Dr Harrleson revealed that the contest will now move from its traditional home in Arlington Heights to the Kansas City area to take advantage of what he called "a vibrant arts scene".
"Kansas City has countless hotels and restaurants, as well as a community that will welcome the U.S. Open Brass Band Championships."
I have an incredible support group around me and am honoured to have been chosen to lead the competition forwardDr Lee Harrelson
He concluded: "The Niermeyer family gave us a gift in the founding of the US Open Brass Band Championships and for this we should all be forever thankful. It takes a lot of courage to entrust someone else with something that you created and dedicated so much of your life to.
I have an incredible support group around me and am honoured to have been chosen to lead the competition forward."
The 2019 U.S. Open Brass Band Championships take place on Saturday, November 9th. Registration is now open at www.usopenbrass.org