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Iowa Brass

Iowa Bandmasters Association Conference

May 12, 2023 @ 3pm

Iowa Ballroom - Des Moines Marriott Downtown


Fantasy of Joy, Fredrick Schjelderup

A Fantasy of Joy was commissioned and first performed by the World-famous Black Dyke Band. The piece was written in 2020, as a tribute and celebration of Ludwig van Beethoven's 250th Anniversary. The main theme and inspiration of the piece come from his famous 9th Symphony with the famous tune Ode to Joy.

Brillante, Peter Graham
Featuring Iowa Brass Euphoniums: Todd Bransky and David Lang

Brillante was commissioned by Peter Wilson for the British Bandsman Centenary Concert in 1987 and was first performed as a duet by Robert and Nicholas Childs.

March - Grunder Stine, Marcus Venables
Dedicated to Don and Judy Stine

Commissioned by the Eastern Iowa Brass Band and dedicated to its founders, Don and Judy Stine.

O Magnum Mysterium, Morten Lauridsen, arr. Philip Littlemore

Milestone.,Peter Meechan
Featuring:  John Aley, Cornet

Milestone is a concerto commissioned by Mark Wilkinson (with funds provided by the Arts Council England) to celebrate 21 years as Principal Cornet with Fodens Band. In three movements, the work is intended to not only demonstrate the soloist’s virtuosic skills but also the ability to communicate to the audience.

I. Milestone
The first movement, titled Milestone, combines sections of driving rhythms (intended to represent Mark’s years of continuous hard work), in the accompaniment with long legato phrases from the soloist interspersed with dexterous, virtuosic passages.
II. Song
The second movement, Song, features a simple chord sequence, over which the soloist “sings” a melody, each time varying and each time becoming more expressive, leading to an emotional climax.
III. Twenty One

The final movement, Twenty One, is a quasi-celebratory dance. Opening with the band clapping, the soloist weaves their way through the various textures in the band. Occasionally making both a musical and metaphorical nod to the industrious nature of the first movement, the chord sequence of the second movement also re-appears, before a brief coda takes us to the conclusion of the work.

Variations on 'Laudate Dominum', Edward Gregson
Variations on Laudate Dominum was commissioned for the 1976 British tour of the London Citadel Band (from Ontario, Canada) whose conductor then was the composer’s brother, Bramwell.

In his variations, Edward Gregson has always tried to avoid the obvious or predictable. The Chorale and Variations (in Partita) are unconventional in structure and content. In Connotations (1977) he transformed variations into something more flexible. ‘Theme within variations’ might be a more apt description. A more exact title for Laudate Dominum might well be ‘Variations and Theme’, since Parry’s noble melody is not heard in its full glory until the end of the work.


In 2007, as a tribute to Black Dyke, a band with whom Gregson has had a long and fruitful relationship, Gregson added two new variations; the first is an interrupted waltz, lyrical in mood, whilst the second is a brilliant tarantella, incorporating a little reference to an early ground-breaking Salvation Army march entitled Praise by Wilfred Heaton.


Now that Salvationist music is available to all brass bands, Variations on Laudate Dominum has become the favourite among bands all over the world of Edward Gregson’s pre-Connotations music, and in its new guise it has even more appeal.

David Lang

David  Lang retired from teaching at Independence High School in 2021. During his 32 year career his ensembles received honors in Concert Band, Jazz Band and Marching Band:  9 appearances at the Iowa Bandmasters Conference; 9 Iowa Jazz Championship 1st place finishes; BOA Regional Marching Band Champion, and 2 appearances a BOA Grand National Marching Band Championships.

David is a frequent guest soloist with area community bands, colleges and high schools. While studying at the University of Iowa, he performed as a guest soloist with all three School of Music Concert Bands. He was the first place winner in the Leonard Falcone International Baritone Horn Competition and was granted a performance with the Michigan State Symphonic Band. He was also the Grand Prize Winner in the Des Moines Symphony Young Artist Competition and performed a Concerto with the Des Moines Symphony Orchestra. He has toured Europe with The Iowa’s Ambassadors of Music as a low brass instructor and euphonium soloist ten times. 

David has won many education awards including: NEA and ISEA Awards for Excellence in Teaching; KCRG A+ for Education Award; KGAN Golden Apple Award; IBA & NEIBA Karl King Distinguished Service Award - Active; NEIBA Philip Sehman Excellence in Teaching Award; Colts Drum & Bugle Corps Hall of Fame, and Independence Chamber of Commerce Teacher of the Year.

Todd Bransky

Todd Bransky has been a distinguished and dedicated member of the Iowa Brass family for over three decades. Since joining in 1988, Todd's musicianship has been showcased on all eight of the band's compact disc recordings, and he was featured as a soloist on their latest CD, "Reverence." 

In 2022, Todd embarked on an international tour as a baritone player with the Mississippi River Brass Band, performing in Germany and the Czech Republic, and previously toured Italy and Sicily with the renowned Sicilian Band of Chicago. Todd has been actively involved in the leadership of Iowa Brass, having served in nearly all positions on the band's Board of Directors. He founded the band's Young Artists Competition in 2011 and is currently directing the band's eagerly anticipated new annual music festival, the "Wurst Brass Festival", slated for June 2023 in the Amana Colonies. 

Todd's passion for music extends beyond Iowa Brass, as he actively participates in other musical groups as well. He plays euphonium in the DTKK Polka Band, trombone in the Cedar Rapids Big Band - CR Jazz, and regularly substitutes for the Cedar Rapids Municipal Band. Todd is also a frequent euphonium soloist in his church and is a member of their choir and handbell choir. Todd is a System Integration Specialist and corporate trainer, working in the IT Department of Folience in Cedar Rapids for over 24 years.

John Aley, Guest Artist

John Aley  has performed extensively throughout the U. S. and internationally. He is Principal trumpet and soloist with Madison Symphony, and formerly with the Wichita, Greenwich, and Stamford, CT Symphonies. Performed with the St. Louis Symphony, the Buffalo Philharmonic, Milwaukee Symphony and New York City based ensembles: the American Brass Quintet, American Symphony and Brooklyn Philharmonic, working with legendary musicians Leonard Bernstein and Aaron Copland. Soloist with Vienna Chamber Orchestra with Maurice Andre. Soloist with English Chamber Orchestra. Recordings with ABQ, PDQ Bach, Wisconsin Brass Quintet, and solo CD Autumn (available from iTunes). He performed in Cuba for the 500 th Anniversary Celebration of the City of Santiago, as well performances and master classes in Mexico City and Toluca. Performing artist/educator at the Aspen Music Festival, Yale Summer School of Music, and UW-Madison Summer Music Clinic. Currently a Valade Fellow at the Interlochen Center for the Arts and faculty of the Interlochen Trumpet Intensive. Featured performer, clinician/adjudicator for the International Trumpet Guild and National Trumpet Competition. He is Professor/Emeritus of the Mead Witter School of Music at UW-Madison. He is former faculty at Brooklyn College, Wichita State University, and Western Connecticut State College.

What is a Brass Band?
Iowa Brass is the only independent, full-time British style brass band in Iowa. British brass bands can be traced back to England's Industrial Revolution in the early nineteenth century. Mining and milling companies sponsored brass bands as a way to keep workers happy in their spare time. Brass bands became the core of those communities and served as a sense of pride for the locals.
Brass bands are comprised of a specific instrumentation and use cornets instead of trumpets: Soprano cornet, B-flat Cornet, Flugelhorn, Tenor Horn, Trombone, Bass Trombone, Baritone, Euphonium, E-flat Tuba, B-flat Tuba, and Percussion. Aside from the trombone, all the instruments are conical bore. You can expect a very unique sound from a brass band - more mellow and rich than that of ensembles using cylindrical bore instruments such as trumpets. Because of the special instrumentation, brass bands are able to perform a wide variety of music including classical, jazz, pop, rock, Broadway, and original works for brass band.

Today, regional and national competitions are the foundation of the modern brass band movement in the United Kingdom, the United States, and around the world. The competitions and rivalries are fierce, yet friendly. Depending upon the contest, bands are judged on musical expression, technique, and entertainment. Over the years we have attended the North American Brass Band Association (NABBA) competition many times, always with a strong showing and even taking first place in our division on several occasions. More recently, we have attended the US Open Brass Band Championships (finishing as high as third place) and the Gateway Brass Band Championships (finishing in second place).

Since 1986, Iowa Brass has been entertaining audiences throughout Iowa, the Midwest, and beyond. We are comprised of about 35 amateur musicians who live around the Iowa City/Cedar Rapids metro area. We rehearse on Thursday evenings in Solon, Iowa, and typically perform 15 - 20 concerts each year. We are available for full concert hall performances, outdoor performances, town festivals, and more.

How can we support your band program?

Music is our passion and sharing our passion with students and educators is important to us. We can support your program in the following ways:

  • Side-by-side concerts: We have shared the stage with many high school and middle school ensembles including Linn-Mar HS, Cedar Rapids Jefferson HS, Prairie Point MS, and Center Point-Urbana MS. We have also performed as the guest ensemble at the Marion Junior Honor Band. We have performed on stage with students, too! We can join your ensemble on stage to perform as one mass ensemble -- this has been an incredible and memorable experience for students and directors alike! 

  • Young Artist Competition: We are proud to offer scholarships to high school and college musicians! Applicants submit a video recording of a solo of their choice. Piano accompaniment is required (unless written unaccompanied) - the solo does not have to have brass band accompaniment. Simply submit a video of what your student is preparing for Solo & Ensemble or an upcoming jury or recital! The winners will perform their solo at the Young Artist Showcase, hosted by Iowa Brass, and receive a cash prize! Click HERE for more information.

  • Clinics: Our conductor, Alex Beamer, is available to provide clinics and workshops to help your ensemble prepare for your next concert or contest! Many of our members are current or retired music educators and they are available as well! 

Contact us for more information! 



Alex Beamer has been the Principal Conductor of Iowa Brass since 2013, making this his 10-year anniversary with the group. Throughout his tenure, the band has performed at numerous competitions claiming such prizes as Best March and 2nd place at the Gateway Brass Band festival. Alex has participated in numerous conducting competitions throughout Europe and in 2016 received a finalist award at the Brass Band conducting competition in Manchester, England. 

Mr. Beamer completed a master’s degree in Orchestral Conducting at the University of New Mexico (Albuquerque, NM) and a Bachelor’s degree in Music Education from Messiah College. His conducting teachers include Dr. Jorge Perez-Gomez, Dr. Timothy Dixon, and Dr. Bradley Genevro. He has studied percussion with Steve Fidyk, Chris Rose, Doug Cardwell, and David Knott. Alex has also participated in many master classes and clinics with some of the nation’s top conductors, such as Mallory Thompson, Eugene Corporon, Dennis Fisher, and Col. Timothy Holton.

Alex is the Vice President of School Music Services at West Music. During his downtime, Alex enjoys life in the Amana Colonies with his wife Jessi, 3 boys Oliver, Henry, and Paul, and their dog Lola. 

Iowa Brass Personnel


Alex Beamer

Soprano Cornet
Matt Hartmann

Solo Cornet
Paul Waech
Evan Fowler
Jeff Fountain
Steve Stickney


Repiano Cornet
Lee Stickney

2nd Cornet
Brian Redington
Beth Villhauer

3rd Cornet
Karla Beckman

Steve Kenny

Dan Davies

Tenor Horn
Peter Laird
Reid Barlow
Cliff Somers
Ray Colony
Robert Upmeyer

Ryan Hesseltine
Joseph Horne

Todd Bransky
David Lang

Kolbe Schnoebelen
Ross Thedens
Paul McNally
Lee Tippe


Bass Trombone
Paul Upmeyer

Eb Tuba
Chris Bird
John Reyna

Bb Tuba
Bob Driggs
Steve Schomberg

Jennifer Boyens
Spencer Kruse
Dave Parsons
Taylor Wells

We would like to thank our sponsors and donors.  We could not continue to make music without you!

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