2005 US Open Brass Band Championships - Runner and Riders


4BR looks at the seven runners and riders for this years events at Arlington Heights.

BB Central FloridaBrass Band of Central Florida
Michael J. Garasi
4BR Ranking: 68

Principal Cornet: Bob Hinckley
Principal Euphonium: Gail Robertson
Soprano Cornet: Dee McAfee
Solo Trombone: Jim Hinckley
Solo horn: Kevin Cramer
Flugel horn: John Copella
Solo Baritone: Steve Hewitt
Eb Bass: Jonathan Cruz

Recent Form:
2005 British Open Championships: 15th
2005 North American Brass Band Championships: Winners (Championship Section)
2004 U.S. Open Championships: Winners

Band History:
The Brass Band of Central Florida was formed in June of 1999 with 30 of Central Florida's finest brass and percussion players.  Even though a relatively young band, they have already won both the U.S. Open and North American Brass Band Championships, a feat that no other band has accomplished.  The band has appeared with a number of world-class soloists, including David and Robert Childs, Steven Mead and Philip Smith.  Their first CD "Brass-A-Peel" was released in 2002 and a Christmas CD will be released later this autumn.

Central Florida has to be one of the (if not THE) favourite for this year's U.S. Open.  They are fresh off of victories at this years North American Brass Band Championships and last years U.S. Open.  No band has truly dominated North American contesting scene since the Illinois Brass Band had their NABBA hat trick of 2000-2002.  Central Florida will try to use some of their valuable contest experience recently gained at this year's British Open to gain three consecutive North American contesting victories of their own.  However, will this relative proximity (by American standards) of these two contests cause them to be under prepared?  Our guess is no.

Eastern Iowa logoEastern Iowa Brass Band
Earle Dickinson
4BR Ranking: NR

Principal Cornet: Paul Waech
Principal Euphonium: Jordan Fiebelkorn
Soprano Cornet: Joan Force
Solo Trombone: Tom Nelson
Solo horn: Judy Stine
Flugel horn: Dan Davies
Solo Baritone: Rick Tibbott
Eb Bass: Dawn Stephens
Bb Bass: Bob Driggs

Recent Form:
2003 North American Brass Band Championships: 5th Place (Championship Section)
2003 US Open Championships: 6th Place

Band History:
The Eastern Iowa Brass Band is one of the oldest bands at this years U.S. Open having been formed in 1985 by Don Stine from the brass ensemble of the Mt. Vernon (IA) City Band.  They began competing at the North American Brass Band Championships since 1986.  They won the Challenge Section at their second competition and have gone on to win the Honors Section 5 times (most recently in 1997), before moving up to the Championship Section.

If there were a formal promotion and relegation process for North American bands, Eastern Iowa would perhaps be one of the bands that bounces back and forth between the top and second section.  They are not quite the level of the top two bands, but should be good enough to ward off most, if not all, the Honors Section bands at this years contest.

Fountain City logoFountain City Brass Band
Jason Rinehart
4BR Ranking: 180

Principal Cornet: Alan Wenger
Principal Euphonium: Lee Harrelson
Soprano Cornet: Stan Smith
Solo Trombone: Seth Merenbloom
Solo horn: TJ Menges
Flugel horn: Doug Reneau
Solo Baritone: William Hess
Eb Bass: Tom Stein

Recent Form:
2005 North American Brass Band Championships: 4th Place (Championship Section)
2004 US Open Championships: Runners-Up

Band History:
The Fountain City Brass Band is yet another one of the newly formed, up and coming North American Bands.  This band was formed in 2002 with members from the Greater Kansas City Metropolitan Area.  Many of the members have taught on the faculties at area universities.  In this short time they have already hosted some of brass bands top musicians including Steven Mead, Patrick Sheridan and Helen Tyler.

This years U.S. Open will mark the anniversary of their contest debut.  In their only two contests they have had very good results for such a young band.  Will their experience now be enough to pip the return champions?  It could be close.

Milwaukee logoMilwaukee Festival Brass
Dr. Patricia Backhaus
4BR Ranking: NR

Principal Cornet:  Tom Traugott
Principal Euphonium: David Meyer
Soprano Cornet: Jordan Beckman
Solo Trombone: Tom Mohr
Solo horn: Jonathan Hauser
Flugel horn: Brian Bolling
Solo Baritone: Eric Backhaus
Eb Bass: Guest Player

Recent Form:
2003 U.S. Open Championships: 5th Place
No recent NABBA appearances

Band History:
The Milwaukee Festival Brass was formed in 1985 and features some of the area's most capable brass players, teachers and students as its members.  They have a four concert series and regularly perform across the Milwaukee Area.  In the past, they have not been a regularly contesting band.  However, this is their second U.S. Open in three years.

This band is a true Wild Card.  While they are now 20 years old, they haven't been regulars to the contesting stage, so how they deal with that situation could be a surprise.  Two years ago they tied a very good Eastern Iowa Band and was not very far behind Prairie.  It is not unrealistic for them to hope for a top three spot, but they will probably be closer towards the bottom.

Motor City logoMotor City Brass Band
Craig Stain
4BR Ranking: NR

Principal Cornet: David Dahl
Principal Euphonium: Michael Schott
Soprano Cornet: Wilbur Jones
Solo Trombone: Joe Gerkin
Solo horn: Jennifer Kmet
Flugel horn: Debra Koepele
Solo Baritone: Mike Fisher
Eb Bass: Mark Gallop

Recent Form:
2004 U.S. Open Championships: 5th Place
2004 North American Brass Band Championships: 6th Place (Honors Section)

Band History:
Motor City Brass Band, having been formed in 1996, is the oldest contesting Brass Band in the State of Michigan.  In addition to contesting they perform a full schedule of subscription and community performances averaging over 20 performances a year.  They have also been active in doing joint concerts with some of the finest ensembles from Detroit and the surrounding area.

Motor City has been an active contesting band for many years now.  Unfortunately, all their experience has not paid off recently as the have finished 5th of 6, 6th of 6th and 6th of 6th in their last three contest.  Look for them to try to turn this trend around and finish out of the bottom spot.

Prairie Brass Band logoPrairie Brass Band
Dallas Niermeyer
4BR Ranking: NR

Principal Cornet: Cyndi Salata
Principal Euphonium: John Meling
Soprano Cornet: Lev Garber
Solo Trombone: Steve Howell
Solo horn: Jeff Philips
Flugel horn: Brad Hecker
Solo Baritone: Paul Eakley
Eb Bass: Lothian Hamilton

Recent Form:
2005 North American Brass Band Championships: 6th Place (Honors Section)
2004 US Open Championships: 4th Place

Band History:
The Prairie Brass Band was founded in 1997 by Roger Menning, and is based out of Arlington Heights, Illinois (A suburb of Chicago).  They compete regularly in the Honors Section of the NABBA and are the hosts for the U.S. Open.

Along with Central Florida, Prairie has the most experience at the entertainment contest format.   Whilst they had to be disappointed with their result at the North American Brass Band Championships, it is said there is no substitute for good experience.  They should have a strong performance on the day and will most assuredly have an entertaining programme.

Sheldon TheatreSheldon Theatre Brass Band
Jim Kurschner
4BR Ranking: NR

Principal Cornet: Lance Paulson
Principal Euphonium: John Tranter
Soprano Cornet: Shawn Page
Solo Trombone: Bruce Alpern
Solo horn: Cami Madison
Flugel horn: Ken Roberts
Solo Baritone: Milt Hovelson
Eb Bass: Eric Peterson

Recent Form:
2005 North American Brass Band Championships: 4th Place (Honors Section)

Band History:
The Sheldon Theatre Brass Band was formed in 1989 to be the resident performing ensemble for the (then newly renovated) T. B. Sheldon Theatre in Red Wing Minnesota.  Over the years the band has released three commercially recorded CDs.  The band has also had some contesting success, winning the Honors Section at the NABBC in 1993.  They had a brief stay in the Championship Section before returning to the Honors Section.

There is no doubt this band has some talent.  However, this will be there first go at an entertainment contest and it will be very interesting to see what they can bring to the table.  They should be able to make a good go at the top half of the results, but their lack of experience in this format may cost them.


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