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JMU News



HARRISONBURG — James Madison University can claim bragging rights to two current national champion teams: the JMU Dukes and the JMU Brass Band.

And, not to put any pressure on the winners of the 2004 NCAA I-AA National Championship in football, but for JMU's 30-member brass band, their feat — outscoring six other bands to win the North American Brass Band Association's honors section competition — is a repeat.

"The NABBA Championship is like I-AA football," said music Professor Kevin J. Stees, who directs the JMU Brass Band. "This is the national contest. It's very competitive."

The JMU band, which also won the competion last year, outperformed the Central Ohio Brass and the Cincinnati Brass Band, the No. 2 and No. 3 honors section bands, respectively, in the NABBA Championship XXIII held March 12 at Pheasant Run Resort in St. Charles, Ill., a suburb of Chicago. The honors section is the second-highest level in the annual competition.

In clinching the first-place trophy, the JMU Brass Band received the highest score of any band in any division at this year's championship, said Stees, besting the next ranked band by almost 10 points. "This is a very large margin in brass band contests, where first- and second-place bands may be separated by only a few tenths of a point," he said.

The JMU Brass Band is modeled after the brass band tradition in Great Britain that developed specific instrumentation for amateur band performance and competition. Bands competing in the NABBA Championship are challenged with a 30-minute concert program consisting of a required "test" piece, which tests the bands musically and technically to expose any weaknesses, and another selection of the band's choosing.

Two JMU students also won first-place awards for solo performances: P.J. Shaver of STERLING in the adult low brass slow melody competition for his tuba performance, and Carolyn Trowbridge of ALEXANDRIA in the adult percussion solo competition for her marimba selection.

The JMU Percussion Ensemble finished in second place in the percussion ensembles competition, which was won by the Chicago Percussion Project.

For more information, call Kevin Stees, JMU professor of music and director of the JMU Brass Band, at (540) 568-6036.