OU Brass Band gains international attention

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The Brass Band took second place in the Butlins Mineworker’s Open Brass Festival 

By Kevin Teller

Brass back home

Many make it their goal to promote OU to a higher level of excellence, but the OU Brass Band brought their skills to an international level on their trip to England just a couple of weeks ago.

It was there that they took second place in the Butlins Mineworker’s Open Brass Festival.

“We would have been excited to just place in the top half. The only other American band that [ever] played in this competition came in 21st.” said junior Brandon Reynolds, who plays solo tenor horn in the brass band.

The band arrived in London on the first day of the trip. It was there that the band members went on a tour of the city and got the chance to sightsee and explore.

From London, the band traveled to Queensbury, England, where it witnessed the Black Dyke Band for the first time. And no, that name is not some offensive racial slur; the band is 160 years old, and obviously the meaning of some words change over time.

OU’s band director, Kenneth Kroesche, said that the original Black Dyke Band was actually funded by a local coal mining company in Queensbury. It is still a lasting—and common—tradition, even for modern English brass bands to belong to a company or even a village.

The Black Dyke Band has been a subject of study throughout the class that Kroesche teaches, so many of the students were familiar with their work when they sat in on a rehearsal. The OU Brass Band members were right up next to these world-class professionals.

After witnessing their rehearsal, the OU Brass Band sat in the same hall for their own rehearsal.

Fourth year student Emily Maas said, “It hit me then that I was about to play where so many great musicians have played for the last 160 years and it made me realize how far [we] have gotten in such a short amount of time.”

Maas is currently in her third year of playing cornet in the brass band and is an instrumental music education major.

The competition at Butlins Resort itself took place on Saturday. It was then that OU’s brass band competed with 18 other brass bands as the only college band to ever play there.

Even though all of the other competitors were professionals, OU was not looked down upon for being a band from a university.

There was even an article written in a magazine in England praising the OU Brass Band for being one of the most “British-sounding” brass bands they have ever heard, according to Kroesche.

“We really distinguished ourselves, and I think that they were expecting that we wouldn’t do that well,” said Kroesche “I think we raised a lot of eyebrows.”

Kroesche credits the band’s success to the support they received on this side of the pond as well. The alumni, faculty, staff, and campus community also contributed to the band’s crowdfunding campaign.

This campaign consisted of 80 contributors raised over $12,000 for the band’s trip.

Kroesche said, “That kind of support coming from the alumni, faculty, and staff is what makes OU a really special place.”