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Rocky Mountain Brass Band Festival

Rocky Mountain Brassworks, Pikes Peak Brass Band, Colorado Brass
Conductors: Doug Harris, Debbie Baker, Randy Hoepker
PACE Center
Parker, Colorado, USA
Saturday, May 18th

The PACE Center is the home to a renowned 500-seat theater and a gem of a 250-seat amphitheater. Designed by the acclaimed architecture firm Semple Brown Design, it also offered a fine listening experience for a trio of well led ensembles for what was the 8th annual festival.

The evening opened with Rocky Mountain Brassworks, the oldest continuing brass band in Colorado, and which as a rule, does not compete. Here they delivered a fine set which included the elegant sounds of ‘Music for Greenwich’, a bold ‘Firestorm’ and an obvious crowd pleasing ‘Fire In the Blood’.

During ‘Beauty and the Beast’ their talented youth player Jack Burke was featured, whilst in ‘Basso Brazilio’ it was the turn of equally impressive Eb tuba Stephen Bollinger.

Grandstand stuff

They were followed by the Pikes Peak Brass Band, who opened with a dynamic flourish. Their choreographed entry to the sounds of Paul Lovatt-Cooper’s ‘Lake of Dreams’ was grandstand stuff and immediately captured the attention of the audience.

In what was a set of balanced contrast, they also provided a bubbling ‘Jubilee’ march and the Salvation Army work ‘Escape Velocity'. The reverentially played ‘Aspect of Praise’ by William Himes was one of the center pieces of the night.

In what was a set of balanced contrast, they also provided a bubbling ‘Jubilee’ march and the Salvation Army work ‘Escape Velocity'. The reverentially played ‘Aspect of Praise’ by William Himes was one of the center pieces of the night.

Classy

The final performance came with the NABBA Championship Section Colorado Brass, not quite two years of age, but still producing a wonderfully warm, mature tonality and crisp technique.

The opened with the fourth movement of NABBA test-piece ‘Partita’, before delighting the audience with the very British sentiments of ‘The Dam Busters’. ‘First Suite in Eb’ by Gustav Holst also allowed them to showcase their control and stylistic balance, before the joyfulness of ‘Beatles Medley for Brass Band’ arranged by David Ellis, a trombone player in the band closed things off.

It was classy, easy listening end to concert that reached out to an audience in a musically engaging manner. 

As the brass band movement gains more momentum in the United States, concerts like these will be vital for its sustainability and growth. More like these will do the job perfectly.  

Dr. Jim Fox

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