2006 US Open Brass Band Championships - Runner and Riders


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

BB Central FloridaBrass Band of Central Florida
Conductor: Michael J. Garasi
4BR Ranking: 90

Soprano Cornet: Dee McAfee
Principal Cornet: Bob Hinckley
Flugel: John Copella
Solo Horn: Kevin Cramer
Solo Baritone: Steve Hewitt
Solo Trombone: Kerry Couch
Solo Euphonium: Gail Robertson
Bb  Bass: Robert Tucker (principal)

Recent Form:
2005 U.S. Open Championships: Winners
2005 British Open Championships: 15th
2005 NABBA 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.  In fact, they have only been topped by an American band in a contest once since 2002! The band has a new Christmas CD that will be released later this autumn and will certainly be looking forward to representing America at Brass in Concert Championships in the UK later in November.

Having won the US Open the last two years Central Florida is still the band to beat.  They have found a good formula for the entertainment contest that has won over the audience and adjudicators.  They have formed a stable line-up of players over the past few years and really developed a tight ensemble sound.

Eastern Iowa logoEastern Iowa Brass Band
Conductor: Earle Dickinson
4BR Ranking: Not in top 200

Soprano Cornet: Joan Force
Principal Cornet: Paul Waech
Flugel horn: Dan Davies
Solo horn: Judy Stine
Solo Baritone: Rick Tibbott
Solo Trombone: Dave Parsons
Principal Euphonium: Todd Bransky
Eb Bass: Dawn Stephens
Bb Bass: Bob Driggs

Recent Form:
2005 US Open Championships: 6th Place
No recent NABBA appearances

Band History:
The Eastern Iowa Brass Band is one of the oldest bands at this years US 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 in 1986.  They have won the Honors Section 5 times and most recently in 1997.

Eastern Iowa is a band that loves to entertain.  From their programming to their 19th century period uniforms, entertaining crowds has been their game.  Unfortunately, it has been a while since Eastern Iowa has found their form, and their two 6th place performances here have been a little disappointing. Will they finally step up to the challenge of 21st century banding?

Fountain City logoFountain City Brass Band
Conductor: Jason Rinehart
4BR Ranking: 139

Soprano Cornet: Steve Molloy
Principal Cornet: Alan Wenger
Flugel: Larry Gingrich
Solo Horn: TJ Menges
Solo Trombone: Seth Merenbloom
Solo Baritone: Jill Venter
Solo Euphonium: Lee Harrelson
Eb Bass: Tom Stein

Recent Form:
2006 NABBA Championships: 3rd Place (Championship Section)
2004 US Open Championships: 3rd Place
2005 NABBA  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 US 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 returning champions?  It could be close.

JaguarJaguar (Coventry) Band
Conductor: Dave Lea
4BR Ranking: 62

Soprano Cornet: Darren Lea
Principal Cornet: Bob Bagott
Flugel: Andrew Bates
Solo Horn: Lynette Wild
Solo Trombone: Kevin Lea
Solo Baritone: Alastair Wood
Solo Euphonium: Rob Hunt
Eb Bass: Mick Wild

Recent Form:
2006 National Championships of Great Britain: 15th (Championship Section)
2006 Senior Cup: 15th place
2006 Midlands Area Championships: 2nd place

Band History:
The band was formed in the 1940s as an Air Training Corp Band, renamed Coventry Boys Band after WWI and later the Coventry School of Music Brass Band.  In 1982, with the band room deemed unsafe, Rolls-Royce stepped in as their sponsor providing the band with a rehearsal space.

In September 2002, Jaguar Cars Ltd became the bands new sponsor. The bands is very grateful for the support from Jaguar and aims to be ambassadors for Jaguar Cars as well as the City of Coventry. Just last weekend, under Dave Lea the band made its debut at the Royal Albert Hall.

Recent form might suggest that the result at the Midlands area was a bit of an aberration. However, this band can play.  The question is: Have they spread themselves too thin with two totally different contests in consecutive weeks?  Dave Lea attended the US Open last year, so he is aware of the competition and format of the event, but will that be enough to earn his band top prize?

Milwaukee logoMilwaukee Festival Brass
Conductor: Dr. Patricia Backhaus
4BR Ranking: Not in top 200

Soprano Cornet: James Samsa
Principal Cornet:  Tom Traugott
Flugel horn: Brian Bolling
Solo horn: Lonna Brooks
Solo Baritone: Kathe Betz
Solo Trombone: Tom Mohr
Principal Euphonium: David Meyer
Eb Bass: Daniel Neesley

Recent Form:
2005 U.S. Open Championships: 7th place
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 areas 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 third US Open in four years.

This was the only band that really wasn't competitive last year.  With some new players on some of the principal seats, they will hopefully be able to improve their results.

Motor City logoMotor City Brass Band
Conductor: Craig Strain
4BR Ranking: Not in top 200

Soprano Cornet: Wilbur Jones
Principal Cornet: David Dahl
Flugel: Debra Koepele
Solo Horn: Jennifer Kmet
Solo Baritone: Mike Fisher
Solo Trombone: Joe Grekin
Solo Euphonium: Michael Schott
Eb Bass: Mark Gallop
Bb Bass: Brad Laibly
Percussion: Suzanne D'Ambrosio

Recent Form:
2005 U.S. Open Championships: 2nd Place
2004 U.S. Open Championships: 5th Place
2004 NABBA 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 is a real dark horse this year. They don't appear to have the raw talent of the three favourites, but they proved last year that they have something the judges like. It will be interesting to see if they if they can once again bring together a well thought out programme and once again crash the party.

Prairie Brass Band logoPrairie Brass Band
Conductor: Dallas Niermeyer
4BR Ranking: Not in top 200

Soprano Cornet: Lev Garber
Principal Cornet: Eric Yates
Flugel horn: Chuck Otis
Solo horn: Jeff Philips
Solo Baritone: Paul Eakley
Solo Trombone: Steve Howell
Principal Euphonium: John Meling
Eb Bass: Lothian Hamilton

Recent Form:
2005 US Open Championships: 4th Place
2005 NABBA 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 US Open.

Prairie has a small advantage by being most experienced band at the entertainment contest format. They know the key to winning is much like Curly's "one thing" from the movie, City Slickers. It's not the same for every band and not the same from year to year as the contest keeps getting redefined... Will Prairie find their "one thing" this year?

Sheldon TheatreSheldon Theatre Brass Band
Conductor: Jim Kurschner
4BR Ranking: Not in top 200

Soprano Cornet: Keith Thompson
Principal Cornet: Lance Paulson
Flugel horn: Ken Roberts
Solo horn: Cami Madison
Solo Baritone: Milt Hovelson
Solo Trombone: Bruce Alpern
Principal Euphonium: Brian Borovsky
Eb Bass: Eric Peterson & Andy Blackwood
Bb Bass: Greg Sackreiter

Recent Form:
2005 U.S. Open Championships: 5th Place
2005 NABBA 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.

Combining the talent of this band with the experience from last year's US Open, we expect to see this band have an improved result over last year's 5th place.


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