OU Brass Band looking to head to England

The Brass Band will travel to England to play in a festival that they qualified for by their performances. 

Many people may not know about the Oakland University Brass Band, but it is carrying the pride of Oakland in its own way.

The group’s dynamics and skill won them the title of North American Brass Band Association Champions last April. Following this, the band was presented with the unique opportunity to travel to Skegness, England for the 2015 Butlins Mineworker’s Open Brass Band Festival.

Conductor Ken Kroesche, who has adorned his office with the trophies and banners that the band has won through the years, is quite pleased with how far the program itself has come. He spoke of when he first began teaching at the university, saying that there were only a handful of students that actually played brass instruments then.

Through the last 11 years, the band has grown considerably and, according to Kroesche, is only one of two traditional, British-style bands in the country.

“Some of these brass bands are actually supported by companies,” Kroesche said.

This is how the Butlins Mineworker’s Open Brass Festival originally started.

It became a tradition in England for some of the mineworkers to actually play in the band that the company supported, making quite a dynamic shift to the level of prestige that the tradition has risen to in contemporary times.

Kroesche said that the OU Brass Band is the only one from a university to ever be invited to play at this festival, so the honor for Oakland is immense.

“I think for the band as a whole, it’s just an honor to be invited to play there,” percussionist Brendan Walters said. “And it means a great deal to get Oakland’s name out of Michigan and outside of the United States.”

Walters is currently in his third semester playing in the band. He is grateful for the experiences that playing music has given him through the years.

To even have a brass band at a university is unique. Not many schools have them, and Walters said he loves the opportunity he has had to make music with this one. By going to England, Walters hopes that the band can “show the world what a lot of time and effort can bring to the table.”

Anyone wishing to aid the OU Brass Band in their trip can go to www.isupportou.com/BrassBand to make a donation. All donations are tax deductible.

Donors can also send checks to Ken Kroesche’s office at 207 Varner Hall.