Brass Band of Columbus reflects on 30 years of music-making

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The Brass Band of Columbus will perform Sunday, March 2, at 4 p.m. in the Lincoln Theatre. The concert is free and open to the public.

The Brass Band of Columbus marks its 30th anniversary with a special concert Sunday, March 2, in the Lincoln Theatre.

Once a primary form of community music, the British-style brass-band tradition was kept alive in the United States by the Salvation Army and, in particular for Ohioans, the Ohio State University marching band.

Indeed, the Brass Band of Columbus was founded by former OSU marching band director Paul Droste.

In its 30 years, the band has established itself as a bellwether ensemble for brass bands in North America and throughout the world, competing in and often earning top honors at contests.

Each of the band's three directors past and present will participate in leading the March 2 program. The Beat asked each to reflect on the band's 30 years.

* Brian Stevens (current director): The BBC has been such an influential group over the past 30 years -- to so many musicians who have had the opportunity to play, to so many communities who have formed their own brass bands, and to so many audience members who have grown to love the brass-band medium.

My personal story: Paul Droste invited me to play with the band in spring 1988. I was student-teaching at the time. I would not be the musician or conductor that I am today without the BBC.

* Tim Jameson (previous director): Many young adults, music majors or otherwise, have college experiences performing at a very high level, but then their choice not to pursue a career as a performer finds them facing a musical void. Similarly, those who become music educators find themselves without a place to continue to perform.

I'm personally very grateful for the opportunity that community bands like the BBC have provided for me as both a player and as a conductor.

* Paul Droste (founder and first director): Many of the members of the Brass Band of Columbus received their first exposure to brass bands as members of the Ohio State University marching band.

In August 1984, 30 of us gathered to read British-style brass-band music and then decided to form our own brass band.

Could anyone have predicted in 1984 that the BBC would be flourishing, and that many of the original members would still be playing in the band?

As for me, I was the facilitator, and honored to be the director for the first 20 years.

The March 2 program includes selections that tell pieces of the band's 30-year history. Highlights include:

* In the Place Just Right -- Composed by Assistant Director Tony Zilincik for the anniversary. Zilincik will conduct. Opens with the notes B, B and C, which Zilincik calls "the band shouting its name at you."

* Lead On! -- Title piece from the band's first commercial CD and arranged by long-time BBC associate Dr. Ronald Holz. Also a nod to the Salvation Army's brass-band tradition, as Holz directs the Salvation Army student band at Asbury University.

* That's a Plenty -- Arrangement of classic Dixieland/ragtime piece by former BBC Assistant Director and founding member of the cornet section Les Susi.

* Hay Burner -- Count Basie Band piece arranged for the BBC by Brian Stevens. Will appear on the band's upcoming recording (which may be available at this concert).

* Three Hymn Tunes -- This arrangement was on the band's first public performance in 1984. Droste will conduct.

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