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Pageantry of Brass
Humboldt Bay Brass Band (HBBB) is comprised of the U.K. standard two dozen brass players and three percussionists, and performs a wide variety of music: middle ages, renaissance, baroque, and up to contemporary and cutting edge. Unlike other so-called “brass bands,” a true brass band has no woodwinds, and all brass parts (even tubas, called basses) are in treble clef; as with saxophone, players may easily switch instruments, using consistent fingerings. The conical cornet, facile and light, is employed for the highest parts -- serving much the same role as violin in orchestra, or flute and clarinet in (wood) wind bands. This formulaic instrumentation (analogous to symphony orchestra or jazz big band) ensures good tonal balance, is required for competitions, and is useful for ready availability of published music. Band programming in the U.K. tends to be polarized toward crowd pleasers (marches, orchestral transcriptions, etcetera) on one end, with difficult test pieces on the other end. HBBB explores these extremes and is adding a body of locally-produced works, including original compositions, editions of early music, and arrangements of historical music pertaining to Humboldt County -- arranged, edited, and composed by Dr. Cline. HBBB was formed after an inspiring 2002 sabbatical trip to England to museums, instrument collections, the Royal Northern Conservatory, trumpet makers, brass bands (both observing and playing with), and the National Brass Band Championships of Great Britain at Royal Albert Hall in London. Both HSU and community brass players (including George Ritscher, who possesses a brass band music library far exceeding what HSU owned) subsequently expressed interest in forming a brass band. Established in 2003, HBBB recorded a full length audio CD, has been featured on local access TV broadcasts and also on a world-wide-web pod cast, and has presented many concerts. Meeting for Fall and Spring ten-week seasons, members include HSU students and other leading brass players from Eureka, Fortuna, Ferndale, and Redway to the south, and Crescent City and Brookings, Oregon to the north.