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Report & Result: 2018 North American Brass Band Championship

Fountain City reclaim the title in Fort Wayne with section awards heading to San Antonio, Rockville, Triangle Brass Band, Fountain City Honors Band and Triangle Youth Academy

  Fountain City reclaim the National title in Fort Wayne

Led by Prof David King, Fountain City Brass Band reclaimed the North American National title following a thrilling triptych battle in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Their seventh Championship Section victory was secured by a brace of outstandingly consistent performances under the Australian on the set-work, 'As if a voice were in them...' by Oliver Waespi, and their own-choice of 'Fraternity' by Thierry Deleruyelle.

Boldly coloured and confidently delivered it enabled the Kansas City band to eventually edge past defending champion, Atlantic Brass Band, with a rejuvenated former winner Brass Band of Central Florida in third.

European echoes

The contest had echoes of Prof King's 1997 European Championship triumph with the great YBS Band where they took the title without winning either discipline of the contest.

21 years ago at the Barbican Centre in London it was Grimethorpe and Tredegar that topped the dual discipline charts, yet could still not claim the overall honours.

Here at the wonderful Embassy Theatre it was the Floridians under Gareth Pritchard (whose son Gavin played with YBS that day) who led the way on Oliver Waespi's majestic Alpine work, with Atlantic directed by Salvatore Scarpa delivering a scorching 'Angels and Demons' to top the own-choice section.


Both bands certainly shone — with Florida displaying rich ensemble warmth and balance that for many has been missing in the last few years, whilst Atlantic's technical proficiency was shown to brilliant effect on their Peter Graham selection.

It certainly made for one of the most exciting NABBA contests for many years, with the eventual destination of the title creating a great deal of debate amongst supporters and neutral listeners alike.

In what was a highly encouraging show of the increasing depth in strength of top-flight banding in the US, the three other contenders of James Madison University Brass, Chicago and Tallgrass all delivered performances of impressive musical merit.

For Fountain City, victory further emphasised their reputation as the nation's brass band standard bearer — one that they hope to strengthen in the years to come according to Director of Music, Joe Parisi.

Huge impact

Due to increased professorial responsibilities at his university, he did not lead the band at the event, but as he told 4BR, the decision to ask David King to come and work with them was one he felt has made a huge beneficial impact on their future aspirations.

"We are so proud of what we are building," he said. "The FCBB family is a wonderful community that is working to grow the population of players of all ages and levels to help spread the excitement and passion of brass banding. It has been another outstanding championship for the organisation.

Having David and his wife Rosie (who played in the horn section) visit us has been a fantastic musical experience and had an unquestionable inspirational effect on everyone — myself very much included. The intensity and insight of the music making was amazing and has benefited us hugely.

The victory was a special one as it spurs us on to even greater heights — one that later this year will see us return to the Brass in Concert Championship in Gateshead."

First Section:

There was a remarkable success for San Antonio Brass Band in the First Section. Under the direction of Dr. John Carroll, Principal Trumpet of the San Antonio Symphony Orchestra, the Texans secured a comprehensive victory on their first appearance at the contest ahead of defending champion Weston Silver from Canada and Dublin Silver.

In a contest that also showed the increasing level of quality at this level, thanks to intelligent musical direction on well chosen own-choice selections, the final top-six places went to Five Lakes Silver, Illinois Brass Band and Oakland University Brass Band.

And although two excellent performances of the set-work, 'Diversions on a Bass Theme' and their own-choice of 'The Year of the Dragon'secured a clear victory, it was still a surprising one according to their spokesperson Lee Hipp.

Shock win

"We're a very young organisation and as this was our first NABBA venture the victory came as a bit of a shock!" he said.

"We will savour this victory, which will certainly inspire us for the future. Our thanks go to our guest clinician Kevin Stees, the Director of the James Madison University Brass Band, who worked with us."

He added: "NABBA was a very exciting experience for our members. They've all been energised by it and are now looking for the next challenge — one that will see us perform with some of the world's finest trumpet players at the 43rd Annual International Trumpet Guild Conference this May in our home city."

Second Section:

In a highly entertaining Second Section contest, Rockville Brass Band from Washington DC retained their title in impressive fashion under the baton of Nigel Horne.

For the second year in a row it was Filmore Philharmonic Brass Band from Cincinnati that has to be content with the runner-up honours, as the excellence of Rockville's renditions of the set-work, 'Frontier Visions' by Stephen Bulla and their own-choice of 'Tallis Variations' saw them claim a commanding seven point margin of victory.

Third place went to Cincinnati Brass, with the final top-six places claimed by Natural State Brass, Capital City Brass and River Brass.

Third Section:

There was a fine victory for the Triangle Brass Band from North Carolina in the Third Section. Led by Tony Granados, they produced a brace of excellent performances of the set-work, 'Lake of the Moon' by Kevin Houben and their own-choice of 'Kingdom of Dragons' to secure victory.

There was further encouragement for the Fountain City organisation as their Academy Band led by euphonium star Lee Harrelson was second, with Old Crown Brass in third.

Youth Sections:

Both the Triangle and Fountain City organisations enjoyed further success in the vibrant youth sections, with Matt Edwards leading Triangle Youth Band to victory in the Open Section thanks to two mature performances of 'Cortege De Bacchus' by Delibes and 'The Graces of Love' by Oliver Waespi.

Podium places went to fine accounts from Fountain City Youth Band and Triangle Youth Academy Brass.

Meanwhile, the Fountain City Honor Band successfully defended the Youth Section title under the twin batons of Helen Harrelson and Paul Bessetti with a colourful rendition of 'Flashback' by Jan de Haan. Watson Brass Band and Motor City Youth Brass delivered performances of rich merit to claim the other podium slots.

Excellent organisation

Once again the excellent NABBA organisation made for an outstanding weekend of competitive music making, with further evidence that community brass banding is making significant and lasting inroads into different areas of the country.

Not only were there the welcome Canada contenders, but the geographical spread saw bands from Arkansas to Wisconsin.

And with the usual added attractions of the keenly fought solo and ensembles competitions, partner sponsors and increased media coverage, the National Championships continue to go from strength to strength at what has become a fine championship venue in Fort Wayne.

Having David and his wife Rosie visit us has been a fantastic musical experience and had an unquestionable inspirational effect on everyone — myself very much includedJoe Parisi


Championship Section:

Adjudicators: Stephen Bulla/William Himes/Keith Wilkinson
Set Test: As if a voice were in them... (Oliver Waespi)
Average mark of Set Test/Own Choice

1. Fountain City Brass Band: (Prof David King): 94.2/98.0/95.2 = 287.4
2. Atlantic Brass Band: (Salvatore Scarpa): 93.2/99.0/92.4 = 284.6
3. Brass Band of Central Florida: (Gareth Pritchard): 94.4/94.8/95.0 = 284.2
4. James Madison University: (Kevin Stees): 91.0/95.2/94.2 = 280.4
5. Chicago Brass Band: (Colin Holman): 91.4/ 96.2/92.0 = 279.6
6. Tallgrass Brass Band: (Alexander Beamer): 91.8/95.8/91.8 = 279.4

First Section:

Adjudicators: Allen/Wagner/Waiksnoris
Set Test: Diversions on a Bass Theme (George Lloyd)
Average mark of Set Test/Own Choice

1. San Antonio Brass Band: (Dr John Carroll): 98.0/98.0/98.0 = 294.0
2. Weston Silver Band: (Larry Shields): 97.0/97.0/96.2 = 290.2
3. Dublin Silver Band: (Tim Jameson): 96.0/96.0/96.4 = 288.4
4. Five Lakes Silver Band: (Dr Steven Kandow): 94.2/93.0/94.8 = 282.0
5. Illinois Brass Band: (Stephen Squires): 93.4/93.0/94.6 = 281.0
6. Oakland University Brass Band: (Kenneth Kroesche): 94.4/93.0/93.2 = 280.6
7. Central Ohio Brass Band: (Jessica Sneeringer): 92.0/95.0/93.0 = 280.0
8. Madison Brass Band: (Craig Mason): 89.8/92.0/93.4 = 275.2
9. Motor City Brass Band: (Craig Strain): 88.4/93.0/93.6 = 275.0
10. Pikes Peak Brass Band: (Debbie Baker): 91.0/92.0/91.4 = 274.4
11. Brass Band of Columbus: (Brian Stevens): 88.6/94.0/91.2 = 273.8
12. Georgia Brass Band: (Joe Johnson): 90.0/91.0/92.0 = 273.0
13. Brass Band at Indiana University: (Eric Isaacson): 86.4/90.0/90.0 = 266.4

Second Section:

Adjudicators: Alexander/Fedderly/Ramsay
Set Test: Frontier Visions (Stephen Bulla)
Average mark of Set Test/Own Choice

1. Rockville Brass Band: (Nigel Horne): 95.0/96.0/96.0 = 287.0
2. Filmore Philharmonic Brass: (Stephen Lytle/Micah Ewing): 93.0/94.0/93.0 = 280.0
3. Cincinnati Brass Band: (Jon Noworyta): 92.0/92.0/91.0 = 275.0
4. Natural State Brass Band: (Dr Gretchen Renshaw James): 90.8/90.0/94.0 = 274.8
5. Capital City Brass: (Jim Otto): 88.0/95.0/90.0 = 273.0
6. River Brass: (Dr Pat Stukemeyer): 89.2/90.0/92.0 = 271.2
7. Upper Canada Brass: (Rita Arendz): 86.2/91.0/89.0 = 266.2
8. Free State Brass Band: (Scott Watson): 85.4/93.0/87.0 = 265.4

Third Section:

Adjudicators: Alexander/Fedderly/Ramsay
Set Test: Lake of the Moon (Kevin Houben)
Average mark of Set Test/Own Choice

1. Triangle Brass Band: (Tony Granados): 96.0/96.0/96.0 = 288.0
2. Fountain City Academy Band: (Lee Harrelson): 94.0/94.0/95.0 = 283.0
3. Old Crown Brass Band: (TJ Four/Tony Alessandrini): 92.0/95.0/94.0 = 281.0
4. Milwaukee Festival Brass: (Dr Mark Taylor): 90.0/93.0/93.0 = 276.0
5. Crossroads Brass Band: (Paul Bork): 85.0/91.0/91.0 = 267.0

Youth Section:

Adjudicators: Alexander/Fedderly/Ramsay
Average mark of Set Test/Own Choice

1. Fountain City Honor Band: (Helen Harrelson/Paul Bessetti): 95.0/95.0/95.0 = 285.0
2. Watson Brass Band: (Jesse Rackley): 94.0/94.0/94.0 = 282.0
3. Motor City Youth Brass Band: (Bona Opatch/Toby Kmet): 85.0/92.0/92.0 = 269.0

Youth Open Section:

Adjudicators: Allen/Wagner/Waiksnoris
Average mark of Set Test/Own Choice

1. Triangle Youth Brass Band: (Matt Edwards): 97.0/97.0/97.0 = 291.0
2. Fountain City Youth Band: (Dr Jennifer Oliverio/Patrick Oliverio): 96.0/96.0/96.0 = 288.0
3. Triangle Youth Academy Brass: (Robin Gorham): 95.0/95.0/95.0 = 285.0
4. Avon High School Brass Choir: (Matt Harloff): 94.0/94.2/94.0 = 282.2

Ten Piece Ensemble:

1. Pikes Peak Versatile Brass
2. JMU Ten Piece Ensemble
3. Bottom Bucket Brass

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