Sunday, September 21, 2008

We have one, most communities do not!

Many communities have a band, folks volunteering to make life in their communities richer. Some communities have orchestras. But very few communities have a brass band of the British style. The Milwaukee area is lucky to have the Milwaukee Festival Brass.

The first big difference is in the instrumentation. Instead of trumpets, they use cornets. Instead of french horns, they use the upright alto horn (called tenor horns in Europe). The rest of the instrumentation includes trombones (tenor and bass), baritones, euphoniums, and Eb and Bb tubas. As a result the "color" of the sound is much different, very lush. You really have to experience it yourself. Definitely worth taking in one of the concerts of the Milwaukee Festival Brass.

One big difference in the brass band tradition is the idea of competition. In Great Britain, the country is divided into sections. To reach the National competition in the fall, you must place in the top 2 or 3 in your section competitions in the spring. Here in the US, there is the Great American Brass Band Festival in spring, and the US Open Brass Band Championships in northern Illinois in fall. There are many other brass band festivals and competitions, but those are the two big ones.

And if you'd like to see the Milwaukee Festival Brass in competition this fall, reserve November 8 for your trip to St. Charles Illinois at the Norris Cultural Arts Center. While the details are not fully set, Dr. Pat Backhaus emailed me that they were intending to compete at the US Open this year, as they did last year. (In fact, if you bring up the US Open page, on the left side you can hear a short portion of an MFB performance.)

So, for something different, take a ride to northern Illinois on November 8th and take in the US Open Brass Band Championships

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