Brass, Reeds, and Percussion

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (BRP) airs every Saturday at 1 p.m. Follow Brass, Reeds and Percussion on Facebook.

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (BRP)—as the name suggests—is a program about music for the wind band (as opposed to the orchestra).  The program features music composed for the instruments of the typical American high school band or the typical American military band. Brass, Reeds and Percussion also provides information about local wind-band performances, players, and history.

About the Host

John Hightower is a “recovering” high school band member, as well as a “recovering” top-40 disc jockey.  From 1969 to 1975, while in college, he worked at WSSO and WSMU-FM in Starkville, Mississippi, and WSUH and WOOR-FM in Oxford, Mississippi.  Born and reared in Natchez, Mississippi, John has a degree in communications from Mississippi State University (1972) and law degree from the University of Mississippi (1975).

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion is WLRH’s longest running program, started in 1976 by musician Darryl Adams, who used this hourly program to share a love of John Phillips Sousa marches, wind-band peformances, and seasonal celebrations.  His St. Patrick's Day episode was always a hit. WLRH's earliest roots thrives thanks to Darryl sharing his energy and talents with our Tennessee Valley listening community. Darryl was a rare champion for music who helped start one of WLRH's greatest traditions. We'll always be proud to have his association.

Darryl G. Adams, March 30, 1939 - October 18, 2011

Local Wind Bands

Twickenham Winds

Brass Band of Huntsville

Rocket City Jazz Orchestra

Old Towne Brass

Huntsville Concert Band

Madison Community Band


Shoals Community Concert Band

The Rocketeers Drum and Bugle Corps


Local College Bands:

Alabama A&M University Band

University of Alabama in Huntsville Wind Ensemble

University of North Alabama Bands



High School Bands and Orchestras ... 

Bob Jones High School Band

Grissom High School Band

Huntsville High School Band

Meridianville Middle School Band

Hazel Green High School Band

Johnson High School Band

James Clemons High School Band

Austin High School Band

Sparkman High School Band

Lee High School Band

Buckhorn High School Band

Madison County High School Band

New Hope High School Band

If your musical organization is not listed on our page, please send contact information to John Hightower at

To arrange to have your event announced on BRP, e-mail John Hightower at or you can submit your non-profit event to our website. To arrange for a public service announcement to run throughout WLRH’s broadcast day, e-mail PSA Requests at Please allow AT LEAST five weeks advance notice for all PSA requests.


Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (July 20, 2019): 50th Anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Fifty years ago today, “Fly Me to the Moon” became the first music heard on the moon when astronaut Buzz Aldrin played a recording of the song with a portable cassette tape recorder. So to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1969 moon landing, Brass, Reeds, and Percussion will air the version of the song played by Aldrin. In addition, we will air other songs written about the moon, as well as two longer wind-band works inspired by the space program.

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (July 13, 2019)

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Next Saturday (July 20, 2019) will the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. To celebrate that event, next Saturday’s edition will feature moon music, including Frank Sinatra’s version of “Fly Me to the Moon” that was played from the moon’s surface. But I collected so much moon and space-related music, I had enough for two shows. So today’s edition features music from science fiction movies, operettas about the moon, and popular songs with a space or star theme.

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (July 6, 2019)

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Tchaivkovky’s wedding to Antonina Miliukova didn’t work out. To recover, he went to Italy on vacation. He lodged at the Hotel Constanzi in Rome, next door to the barracks of the Royal Italian Cuirasseurs (KWIR uh suhrs), an elite Italian cavalry unit. Each day he heard an their bugle call, which he eventually incorporated into his “Capriccio Italien.” Unrelated to the Tchaikovsky composition, Nino Rosso—an Italian trumpet plyer—incorporated the same bugle call into a popular tune that became a big hit in 1965, especially in Europe.

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (June 29, 2019)

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Today, we celebrate Independence Day on Brass, Reeds, and Percussion. We’ll begin with Paul Murtha’s "Heoric Fanfare," performed by the U.S. Army Herald Trumpets. Paul Murtha was born in 1960 in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. He earned his B.S. in music education from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh. From 1990 to 1996, he served as the chief arranger at the United States Military Academy Band at West Point. From 1996 to 2001, he served as the chief arranger for the U.S. Army Band in Washington, D.C.

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (June 22, 2019)

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Sometimes called the round mound of sound, Al Hirt was born in New Orleans in 1922. During the 1960s, he had a string of hits plying his trumpet. This was a period in American popular music when instrumentals were still making the charts on a regular basis. So today, we’re taking a ride in our time machine to hear his hits from 1964 and 1965. These are, of course, original recordings. Hirt received his first trumpet at age 6 and began playing in the junior police band of New Orleans.

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (June 15, 2019)

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Today’s edition of Brass, Reeds, and Percussion features the music of Japanese composer Naoya Wada, born in 1986 in Fukuoka, Japan. He is a self-taught piano player who eventually graduated from the Toho College of Music in Japan. He wrote his first composition at age 11 and his first wind-band composition at age 15. He’s one of the few Japanese composers who writes music for school bands and has received a large number of commissions from Japanese junior high schools and high schools.

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (June 8, 2019): 50th Anniversary of D-Day

Saturday, June 8, 2019

At this time, 75 years ago, American troops were in France, fighting the Germans as a result of the D-Day landing. So I’m calling this the D-Day edition of Brass, Reeds, and Percussion. You’ll music our troops might have heard before they embarked on this mission. You’ll also hear music that some of the allies might have heard, particularly the French. And finally, you you’ll hear some music inspired by the war itself. So for example, we’ll open with the march composed by John Williams for the movie “1941.”

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (June 1, 2019)

Saturday, June 1, 2019

G. H. Willcocks enlisted in the British Army at age 16 in 1915 as a cornet player in the Band of the Royal Fusiliers. From 1938 to 1948, he was conductor of the Band of the Irish Guards. In 1950, he became the director of music for the Ford Motor Company. In 1952, he became involved in the brass bands of Great Britain when he took over the Fairey Band at the last minute before a band contest and lead them to first place.

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (May 25, 2019): Memorial Day

Saturday, May 25, 2019
  1. To the Color
    Composer:  Traditional
    Performer:  U.S. Army Ceremonial Band
    Album:  American Spirit
  2. National Anthem
    Composer:  John Stafford Smith (1750–1836)
    Performer:  U.S. Army Ceremonial Band
    Album:  American Spirit

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (May 18, 2019)

Saturday, May 18, 2019
  1. Red Roses for a Blue Lady (1948)
    Composer:  Sid Tepper (1918-2015) & Roy C. Bennett (1918-2015)
    Performer:  Guy Lombardo & Royal Canadians
    Album:  Essential Gold
  2. A Swinging Safari (1962)

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (May 11, 2019)

Saturday, May 11, 2019

This edition of Brass, Reeds, and Percussion features a song that was among the top 10 songs on the Billboard best seller list during the first 3 months of 1947. During this time, there were three different versions on the charts, each performed by a different group. The first version reached the number-one position on January 31, 1947. The second version, the version we'll hear today on the show, peaked at number four on February 14, 1947. The third version hit number nine on March 7, 1947. The name of the song?

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (May 4, 2019)

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Johann Strauss, Sr., didn’t want any of his sons to become musicians. But Johann, Jr., Joseph, and Eduard all became musicians, composers, and conductors—just like their father. Senior died at age 45 from Scarlet fever, a type of streptococcus infection.

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (April 27, 2019)

Saturday, April 27, 2019

First performed in 1879, Franz von Suppé’s operetta Boccaccio tells the fictionalized exploits of Giovanni Boccaccio, the Renaissance poet from Florence, Italy. As depicted in the operetta, his erotic novellas cause a stir. His female fans enjoy these erotic tales, but their jealous husbands are scandalized.

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (April 20, 2019)

Saturday, April 20, 2019

In 1947, Guy Lombardo and His Royal Canadians had a big hit with an Irving Berlin song that inspired a movie. The song is “Easter Parade,” which was the inspiration for the 1948 movie of the same name. The tune dates back to 1917.

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (April 13, 2019)

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Wind-band music is often a refuge for obscure opera composers. True to form, this edition of Brass, Reeds, and Percussion features a march based on themes of an obscure opera and obscure opera composer. Born in 1810, Ferenc Erkel is the father of Hungarian grand opera. Our opening march is based on musical themes from his opera Hunyadi Laszlo. The opera is about a king who plots to kill one of his best military leaders after stealing the soldier's fiance.

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (April 6, 2019)

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Born in Prague in 1827, Anton Rosenkranz spent most of his adult life as a bandmaster in the Army of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. While he studied at the Prague Conservatory, he became the bandmaster of Civil Infantry Corps of Praue—at age 20. From 1848, he was bandmaster of the 2nd Styrian Volunteer Infantry Battalion. He then served as bandmaster of the band of the 39th Infantry Regiment and the 80th Infantry Regiment. In 1878, Rosenkranz succeeded Carl Michael Ziehrer as bandmaster of the 76th Infantry Regiment in Vienna.

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (March 30, 2019)

Saturday, March 30, 2019

This edition of Brass, Reeds, and Percussion features original wind-band music by Beethoven. His Octet is not a transcription, a type of composition in which someone converts an orchestral work to a wind-band arrangement. Instead, it was written for the harmonie (the wind-band of the late 18th century and early 19th century), with instrumentation typically consisting of two clarinets, two oboes, two bassoons, and two horns. The harmonie was often augmented with a string bass, as is the typical concert wind band or jazz band of today.

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (March 23, 2019)

Saturday, March 23, 2019

We’ve probably all heard of Johann Strauss, father and son, but today we feature music by their biggest rival during the last half of the 19th century: Carl Michael Ziehrer. When one of Johann Strauss’ publishers had a falling out with that composer, he promoted Ziehrer to take his place—in 1863 when Ziehrer was only 20 years old. Shortly after that, Ziehrer obtained a position as a military band leader in Vienna.

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (March 16, 2019)

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Most of today’s edition of Brass, Reeds, and Percussion will consist of wind-band arrangement of popular songs, but we will start today’s show with a march by the Bohemian composer Hermann Josef Schneider, who lived from 1862 to1921. Even though he was never a bandmaster in the Austro-Hungarian Empire’s army, he nevertheless composed some of the most frequently performed marches of that army. But today’s composition is the official march of the Swiss Infantry Regiment 5 and named the Archduke Albrecht Review March. It’s named after Austrian Archduke Albrecht.

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (March 2, 2019)

Saturday, March 2, 2019

Mardi Gras is this Tuesday, March 5. So this edition of Brass, Reeds, and Percussion will feature music and musicians from New Orleans. We'll start the show with the "Sugarfoot Stomp" by King Oliver, who lived from 1881-1938. He was born in Abend, Louisiana, which is on the Mississippi River north of New Orleans. As with so many other New Orleans musicians of that period, Oliver played in brass bands in Storyville. In 1917, he and other band members were arrested, an event that motivated a move to Chicago in 1918.




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