Monday, April 21, 2014

Future Corps Birdland

Future Corps was a Disney based performing group that no longer exists, but I wish it did! I honestly think I would be OK with spending many years performing with/in this type of ensemble.

Future Corps Birdland

Future Corps was a Disney based performing group that no longer exists, but I wish it did! I honestly think I would be OK with spending many years performing with/in this type of ensemble.

Santa Clara Vanguard 2014

One of my favorite drum corps shows ever was the 2004 Santa Clara Vanguard and their performance of "Scheherazade." Needless to say, I was overly excited when I found out that SCV will be performing "Scheherazade" once more for the 2014 season! Between the show selection, my connections with many of the SCV staff members, and my best friend marching his final season of drum corps this summer, I really can't wait to see this show!!!

2004 SCV:

NABBA (Part 5) – Atlantic Brass Band

One of my favorite performances of the evening was the Atlantic Brass Band. As a fan of Vivaldi’s music, this was the perfect blend of Vivaldi and brass band which was also executed with skill. As a euphonium player, I definitely have to say that Amy Bliss (principal euphonium) played extremely well and I loved the way she sounded with the ensemble. I personally would have scored them higher, but I guess there is a reason I’m not a judge.

NABBA (Part 4) – Brass of the Potomac

In third place, the Brass of the Potomac (Score of 94.0) performed “On Alderley Edge” by Peter Graham. This ensemble consists of free-lance musicians along with members of premiere military bands in the DC/Maryland/Virginia region. An ensemble of very high quality players seemed to have lost most of their points on the test piece performance. The choice piece performance was great, although not completely void of audible errors.

NABBA (Part 3) – Fountain City Brass Band

The Fountain City Brass Band placed second at this year’s NABBA competition with a score of 95.4. The Fountain City Brass Band has been extremely competitive since its inception, winning 6 U.S Opens, 4 NABBA Championships, and the Scottish Open Brass Band Championship. 

This year, FCBB performed Philip Wilby’s “Vienna Nights,” a difficult piece with several Mozart references scattered throughout. 4BarsRest says this about “Vienna Nights”: “…perhaps Wilby's finest work to date for the medium. This is Mozart brought to life in a way that no other composer for brass could approach. The mixture of genres, the intuitive appreciation of the style and the ability to compliment true genius with a deep felt and personal appreciation is a startling achievement.  It is a masterful work that in turn envelopes and intrigues, cajoles, subdues with sly wit and pathos and finally, and breathtakingly thrills the living pants off you in a way Mozart himself would have surely been tickled pink of.”

NABBA (Part 2) – Stavanger Brass Band

The Stavanger Brass Band traveled to NABBA this year all the way from Norway. They were the final band to perform on both nights and seemed to be the most anticipated ensemble performing/competing. Their selection this year was “Myth Forest” by Stig Nordhagen. “Myth Forest” was also used as the test piece for the European Brass Band Championship in 2013. Stavanger’s performance was quite fantastic and was absolutely one of the standout performances of the evening and led to the group taking first place in the Championship Section with a score of 97.2 overall.

Monday, April 14, 2014

NABBA (Part 1)

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to attend the NABBA (North American Brass Band Association) competition for the first time. While there, I participated in the competition with a 10-piece brass ensemble made up of members of the Eastern Iowa Brass Band. We performed a 10-piece arrangement of Chick Corea's 'Spain' and placed 2nd in our category. I had such a great time watching the brass bands this weekend and will review several of the pieces performed by the championship section ensembles throughout the next several posts.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Camp Weekend Report #1

This weekend was my first official weekend of teaching a drum corps horn line and I absolutely loved every second of it. Being able to see all of these kids coming into the same activity I started doing over ten years ago and knowing exactly what they will learn throughout the next months is such a great feeling. While things are a little different with this corps, the overall idea is still one of achieving greatness and having a great time along the way. When it came to the horns, it was definitely different to have kids tell me that they played flute or saxophone in their bands but they were learning trumpet just so they could march drum corps. Those are the kids I respect the most for being there. They have the tallest ladder to climb, but they have the drive to do it. By the end of the camp, many of the kids were visibly tired from how much effort they expended, but almost everyone brass player had a smile on their face. We worked through some of our normal warmups and jumped into the summer's show music. After the short brass block, we were able to play all the way through the opener. While everyone held their own overall, I am confident that this will be one of the best low brass sections that the corps has ever produced. We have camp again next weekend, and I can't wait to go back!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Trombones in DCI?

Two weeks ago, DCI had it's annual executive meeting to discuss the future of the activity and propose possible implementations or changes to the DCI rule book. One of the more "drastic" changes was one proposed by Madison Scouts Artistic Director, James Mason. 

"The first proposal addresses the instrumentation of a drum corps ensemble, recommending that any brass instrument, even those not of the “bell-front” variety as stipulated in the current DCI rulebook, be allowed in competition. This proposal aims to give corps the ability to utilize a full range of brass instruments not currently allowed by DCI rules such as trombones, French horns and sousaphones."

Now, many drum corps fans, members, and alumni are still busy attempting to comprehend this idea, which passed and will be implemented for the 2014 season. Not all reactions are negative, but it seems that most of them are. My only opinions are:

1 - I'll wait until I see it to make a judgement.
and 2 - It does not state that they are required, so if a corps decides it doesn't warrant the use of these instruments, it won't be an issue.

What do you think about this change to DCI's rules?

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Drum Corps at the Olympics recently posted an article about the 27th Lancers Drum and Bugle Corps performing at the 1980 Winter Olympics. That year, the Olympics were being held in Lake Placid, NY and the corps was playing for the opening ceremonies. This was an extremely large stage for the Lancers and the world of drum corps. The article also makes mention of how the group of brass players were able to overcome the cold weather for a successful performance; including using car antifreeze on their valves. It's a great read and gives us a glimpse into the past of DCI history.

Original Article

27th Lancers at DCI Finals in 1980

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Welcome to my new blog. This blog has been created as part of the Advanced Brass Ensemble Literature course at the University of Iowa. I will be posting here quite frequently throughout the semester, so please stop by from time to time.
To get things started, I would like to share one of my favorite brass band pieces and performances. This is a video of the Cory Band from South Wales. They are currently one of the top brass bands in the world and have been for many years now. This video is their performance of “Enter the Galaxies” from 2009′s Brass In Concert. Enjoy!
Update: This video was just changed to a private video by the Cory Band. I have replaced it with a performance of "On The Shoulders of Giants."