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).

About the Band

In 1985, Don Stine, the director of the city band in Mt. Vernon, Iowa, attended a seminar on the growing brass band movement in the United States. A workshop was arranged in eastern Iowa in February of 1986. There were 34 brass and percussion musicians who attended that 2-day event which culminated in a concert at Lindale Mall in Cedar Rapids.

Following the clinic, regular rehearsals were held in Mt. Vernon as we prepared to attend the 1986 NABBA Championships in Indianapolis, Indiana. After a strong second place finish, Iowa Brass, Inc. was established as a non-profit, tax-exempt corporation. In 2018 Iowa Brass relocated to our current home in Solon, Iowa. 

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.

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Meet the Conductor

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Alexander Beamer is the Principle Conductor of Iowa Brass and a freelance percussionist. Mr. Beamer recently 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 principle conducting teachers include Dr. Jorge PerezGomez, Dr. Timothy Dixon, and Dr. Bradley Genevro. He has studied percussion with Steve Fidyk, Chris Rose, Doug Cardwell and David Knott. As a conductor, Mr. Beamer has directed and guest conducted many groups throughout the East Coast and Southwest. At UNM he was Assistant Conductor of the Symphony Orchestra, Opera Orchestra and the Music Director for the UNM Wind Repertoire Collective and UNM Reading Orchestra. A frequent Guest Conductor, he worked with such organizations as the New Mexico School of Music and the Hummingbird Music Camp.

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