2008 North American Brass Band Championships - Preview: Championship Section


The very best bands in North America line up on the weekend to see if they can take home with them the title as the best brass band in the North America.


Championship Section
Saturday, March 29th 2008

Venue: Stem Concert Hall
Time: 9:25am – 12:10pm
Set Piece: St. Magnus (Kenneth Downie)

Venue: Brown Theatre
Time: 7:30pm – 10:45pm

Own choice Selections (in alphabetical order by title):

  • Dove Descending (Wilby)
  • Extremem Make-Over (de Meij)
  • Jazz (Wilby)
  • Music of the Spheres (Sparke)
  • On Alderley Edge (Graham)
  • Passacglia for Brass (on a Theme of Brahms) (Butterworth)

Mark Twain popularized the phrase, “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damn lies and statistics."  Each championship section band will come to contest with justification that this is 'their year'  The reality is of course, only one band will walk away with the top prize.

Over the past six years, six different bands have won NABBA. 

Atlantic would like to take their turn and make it seven different bands in seven years. Brass Band of Columbus will hope to add another title to their record number of NABBA Championships (10) - they are also the most recent band to have won twice (2006 & 2002). Chicago last won in 2004, and will hope St. Magnus can bring them luck (they played it as their own choice 3 years ago en route to a fine second place finish.)

Fountain City will hope their momentum carries over. They are the hottest band at the moment, fresh off the 2007 double (NABBA & US Open). Illinois has won the most NABBA Championships this decade (2000, 2001, 2002) and would like to place their record out of reach. James Madison has been the most successful band over the past four years (two titles, two 2nd place finishes) and surely would like to cap off their first five years of competition with a Championship section title.

You can see what Mark Twain meant.

St. Magnus will definitely be a stern tests for the bands and should be able to separate the contenders from the pretenders.

AtanlticAtlantic Brass Band
 Salvatore Scarpa
4BR Ranking: 172

Recent Form:
2007 NABBA Championships: 5th/7 (Championship Section)
2006 NABBA Championships: 5th/7 (Championship Section)
2005 NABBA Championships: 3rd/6 (Championship Section)

Atlantic Brass Band is one of the oldest bands in the Championship Section. As the competition picked up about ten years ago, Atlantic started to fade. Rather than be relegated down a section the band showed vigor and had strong performances in 2004 & 2005 and has been a class group ever since.

If Atlantic shows up with their best game they could be in the mix. However, any less than that will find them out of the frame.

central floridaBrass Band of Columbus
Tim Jameson
4BR Ranking: 162

Principal Players:
Soprano Cornet: Bill Bailey/ John Montgomery
Principal Cornet: Dan King
Horn: Lisa Galvin
Trombone: Jeff Keller
Euphonium: Eric Aho
Basses: Gary Tirey (Bb)
Percussion: Dean Appleman

Recent Form:
2007 NABBA Championships: DNC
2006 NABBA Championships: 1st/7 (Championship Section)
2005 NABBA Championships: DNC

Often a band that takes a year off from contest has some catching up to do. However, Columbus has been quite busy trying to stay at the top of their game with a couple of recording projects, performances at the Ohio Brass Arts Festival, Great American Brass Band Festival, and Ohio Music Education state conference.

Columbus felt the harsh reality of NABBA’s improved competition in 2004 (finishing 5th), but came back to win in 2006, showing they’ve still got it. They will surely have aspirations of reclaiming their title, and will likely be in the mix.

ChicagoChicago Brass Band
Colin Holman
4BR Ranking: 169

Principal Players:
Soprano cornet - Guy Clark
Principal Cornet - Andy Malovance
Horn - Roger Menning
Euphonium - Brad Say
Trombone - Dan Sartori
Basses - Jason Lyons
Percussion - Daniel Heffner

Recent Form:
2007 NABBA Championships: 6th/7 (Championship Section)
2006 NABBA Championships: 6th/7 (Championship Section)
2005 NABBA Championships: 2nd/6 (Championship Section)

The Chicago Brass Band first competed in 2003 and after a meteoric rise has slipped back down to mediocrity. They have recently undergone a lot of rebuilding with almost half of their members making their NABBA debut.

CBB has had a busy and successful year of concert giving so far. With so many new players one might not know what to expect. However, many of their corner players are still intact, and if their leadership can come through we could see the Chicago band of a few years ago make a solid run.

Fountain CityFountain City Brass Band
Joe Parasi
4BR Ranking: 53

Principal Players:
Soprano cornet – Steve Molloy
Principal Cornet – Alan Wenger
Flugel – Matt Vangjel
Horn – TJ Menges
Baritone - Helen Tyler
Euphonium – Lee Harrelson
Trombone – Karen Zawacki
Basses – Tom Stein
Percussion – Mai Tadokoro

Recent Form:
2007 US Open Championships: 1st/8
2007 All-England International Masters: 9th/19
2007 NABBA Championships: 1st/7 (Championship Section)
2006 NABBA Championships: 3rd/7 (Championship Section)

Hard to believe Fountain City is only in their 4th year of competition given the success they had last year. Not only did they win both NABBA and the US Open, but they had strong results at Whit Friday and the Masters.

Holding both North American trophies, Fountain City will have a huge target on their back. However, this band has the players and MD to fend off the competition.

IllinoisIllinois Brass Band
: Dr. Ryan T. Nelson
4BR Ranking: 131

Principal Players:
Soprano Cornet: Jim Sobacki
Principal Cornet: Ciny Salata
Horn: Stan Bouma
Trombone: Bob Holland
Euphonium: Tom Runty
Basses: Justin Boller
Percussion: Justin Boller

Recent Form:
2007 US Open Championships: 6th/8
2007 NABBA Championships: 3rd/7 (Championship Section)
2006 NABBA Championships: 7th/7 (Championship Section)

Illinois Brass Band had an incredible stretch from 1996 to 2002, winning 6 titles. The bottom dropped out a few years ago, and they’ve been rebuilding, positioning themselves to reclaim the title.

Illinois will be looking to build upon a fine result last year. If they can keep their momentum going, they will once again find themselves in the mix.

James MadisonJames Madison University Brass Band
Kevin Stees
4BR Ranking: 92

Principal Players:
Soprano Cornet: Alex Bender
Principal Cornet: Steve Siegel
Flugel: Megan Campbell
Horn: Sarah Tarrant
Baritone: Kevin Elkins
Trombone: Mike Miragliotta
Euphonium: Dave Heinsen
Eb Bass: Steve Klingseis
Bb Bass: Matt Baker
Percussion: Suzie Berndt/ Jamieson Carr

Recent Form:
2007 NABBA Championships: 2nd/7 (Championship Section)
2006 NABBA Championships: 2nd/7 (Championship Section)
2005 NABBA Championships: 1st/7 (Honors Section)

JMU Brass Band consists of students from the university and is therefore subject to a high turnover (most can not be in the band more than 4 or 5 years). However, this turnover might begin to be offset by the recruitment of better players given the high standard they have been able to perform at. They have steadily progressed through the field and quickly become perennial favorites.

JMU will be looking to do what Fountain City did last year, head to the UK as North American Champions. Due to the incredible ensemble demands of St. Magnus, their frequent rehearsal schedule could be just what they need to give them an advantage and see yet another new NABBA Champion.

4BR prediction:

For the past several years the Championships have been very close (many winners by less than 1 point out of 300).  Last year, Fountain City bucked that trend, winning by a comfortable margin.

Will they continue to separate themselves from the back or will other bands come back with enough hunger to overtake the 2007 Champions?  Furthermore, how will all the bands deal with the new format, set piece in the morning…own choice in the evening?

We won’t go out on a line, and will stay with the “chalk.”

1. Fountain City Brass Band
2. James Madison University Brass Band
3. Brass Band of Columbus

Dark Horse: Illinois Brass Band


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