Brass, Reeds, and Percussion

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (BRP) airs every Saturday at noon. 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

U.S. Army Materiel Command Band

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 (December 5, 2015)

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Machlast is an Austrian folk music band.  Well, actually, the band combines traditional German folk music with rock and roll.  So it’s more like the Beatles meets a German polka band. Today’s edition of Brass, Reeds, and Percussion begins with the Machlast version of “I Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You,” a big hit by Frankie Valli from 1967.  The words and music were composed by Bob Crewe, who lived from 1930 to 2014, and Bob Gaudio, who was born in 1942.  Both coming from New Jersey, Crewe and Gaudio wrote a number of hits together.

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (November 28, 2015)

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Synesthesia is the act of associated one sense with another, as in "That music sounds blue."  Gilbert Vinter, a British composer who lived from 1909 to 1969, wrote a synesthetic work called Spectrum in 1968.  In 1969, it was used as a test piece for the Brass Band contest sponsored by the Daily Herald newspaper.  Each section is named after a color:  red, orange, yellow, green blue, indigo, and purple; and it has violent mood swings.

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion: Thanksgiving Edition (November 21, 2015)

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Born in Boston in 1746, William Billings is one of America’s first major composers.  When his father died when Billings was 14, he became a tanner.  Musically, he was self taught and was apparently addicted to snuff. A contemporary described him as being of moderate size.  One leg was shorter than the other and he was blind in one eye.  Nevertheless, he spoke, sang, and thought as a manner above common abilities.  William Billings Thanksgiving Hymn is featured on today’s edition of Brass, Reeds, and Percussion.

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (November 14, 2015)

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Sackbuts are the ancestors of trombones.  They typically have a smaller bore and a less flared bell.  Sackbuts are, in turn, the descendants of the slide trumpet, which first makes its appearance around 1420 in Italy.  Schawms are the ancestors of oboes.  The schawm has a cylindrical bore and uses a double reed.  It was imported into Europe around 800, probably from Muslim countries to the east.  It also resembles Indian, Chinese, and Japanese instruments from the same period.  Today's edition of Brass, Reeds, and Percussion begins with Renaissance wind-ban

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (November 7, 2015)

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Vittorio Giannini was an Italian American born in Philadelphia in 1903.  His mother taught him how to play the violin.  His father was an opera singer as were his two sisters.  He composed at least two major operas and several radio operas.  After attending the Milan Conservatory in Italy, he received a graduate degree from the Juliard School in New York City.  He taught at the Manhattan School of Music and at the Curtis Music Institute in Philadelphia.  Among his students was Herbie Hancock, John Corigliano, and Alfred Reed.  In addition to composing operas, he composed sy

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (October 31, 2015)

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Living from 1797 to 1857, Johann Gottfried Rode was director of the hunter guards band of the Prussian King.  He was the chief forest horn player.  Rode composed or arranged 2,935 pieces of music.  He introduced valve instruments into the Prussian military band.  We begin today’s edition of Brass, Reeds, and Percussion with one of Rode’s arrangements of a German melody from around 1763.  In English, it’s called the “Hunter from Kurpfalz.” Kurpfalz is the area of Germany that has the major cities of Heidelberg, Düsseldorf, and Mannheim.  Jager is the German word for

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (October 24, 2015)

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Born in Ukraine in 1887, Sophie Tucker moved to the United States in approximately 1906.  She began her musical career around 10 years old by singing for tips in her parents restaurant in Ukraine. She was known as the last of the red hot mamas. In 1911, she had her first big hit:  "Some of These Days" with music and lyrics by Shelton Brooks.  Brooks was born in 1886 in Ontario, Canada.  He and his family moved to Detroit in 1901.  His first big hit, as a singer-songwriter, was also "Some of These Days."


Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (October 17, 2015)

Saturday, October 17, 2015

This edition features ballet music from the opera William Tell by Gioacchino Rossini, as well as music from the 1920s performed by Don Neely's Royal Society Jazz Orchestra of San Francisco.

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (October 10, 2015)

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Klezmer is Jewish folk music, mostly Eastern European in origin. In Ukraine during the 1700s, Jews were forbidden from playing loud musical instruments. So Klezmer was originally played on stringed instruments, such as the violin and cymbalom. But in 1827, the Czar began to conscript Jews for the Russian military. And they were included in military bands. Thus, Klezmer ensembles began to include the instruments typical of the Russian military wind band. So that’s how, today, much Klezmer is wind music.

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (October 3, 2015)

Saturday, October 3, 2015

The works of American, British, Irish, French, German, Austrian, Czech, and Thai wind-band composers are heard on this edition of Brass, Reeds, and Percussion

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (September 26, 2015)

Saturday, September 26, 2015

A cortege is actually a procession.  Hence, it’s not really redundant to speak of a funeral cortege, but there can all sorts of other corteges as well.  For example, the students at the Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg, Sweeden, hold the Chalmers Cortege on April 30 every year.  Another cortege honoring Our Lady of Tear occurs in Kalfort, Belgium, in August every year.  This is a religious cortege than began around 1600 to honor a saint said to have the ability to cure eye diseases.

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (September 19, 2015)

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Why is Octoberfest celebrated in September? Actually, it’s celebrated in both months. As a Bavarian holiday, it begins during mid September and ends on the first weekend of October. The celebration began in 1810 when then Crown Prince Ludwig, later King Ludwig I of Bavaria, married Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen. The people of Munich celebrated the nuptials with wine, beer, food, and a big horse race. No doubt music was played and people danced as well. So today’s edition of BRP will feature German wind-band music.

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (September 12, 2015)

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Today’s show is a gallimaufry, perhaps a pastiche, maybe a melange of music, mostly from German sources, but all wind music—because this is today’s edition of Brass, Reeds, and Percussion, a program devoted to the music of the wind band.  Today’s edition has music from an opera, music from a film, German polkas, marches for military units, and 1970s European disco hits.  We’ll begin with the "Telefunken March" probably composed in 1924 by Johannes Evert (or Everst).

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (September 5, 2015)

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Aram Khachaturian was born in Georgia, the country, in 1903.  In 1921, he went to Moscow and studied at the Moscow Conservatory.  He composed a number of concertos, 3 symphonies, 2 ballets, and music for over 25 films.  Today’s edition of BRP features a wind-band arrangement of music from one of the films:  The Battle of Stalingrad.  The movie depicted the World War II battle, of course.  And the Battle itself began over 73 years ago on August 23, 1942.  Considered the largest and bloodiest in the history of warfare, the battle was a turning point in the war.  

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (August 29, 2015)

Saturday, August 29, 2015

In 1853, Richard Wagner used a solo anvil in Das Rheingold. Apparently, this inspired a German military musician in his 20s to write a polka for solo anvil: “The Amboss Polka.” The musician was Albert Parlow, who lived from 1824 to 1888. Parlow was the first German Navy bandmaster and composed the first German Navy march “With Full Sail.” Eventually, he became the director of music for the Prussian Army as well. He made the acquaintance of Johannes Brahmas and arranged some of Brahams Hungarian dances for wind band.

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (August 22, 2015)

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Today’s edition features the "Watermelon Man" by Herbie Hancock, a piece of wind-band music that started the boogaloo sound of the 1960s, but we will begin the show with a more traditional wind-band composition by John Morrissey, a music educator at Tulane University who lived from 1906 to 1993.  He received his master’s degree in music education from Columbia University.  In 1938 he joined the faculty of Tulane University, New Orleans, where he became professor of music and director of bands until his retirement in 1968.


Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (August 15, 2015)

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Born a year after Handel’s death and dying 4 years after Beethoven’s death, Franz Krommer is a Czech composer most famous for his wind-band compositions.  These were composed for the harmoniemusik, the classical wind band typically consisting of two oboes, two clarinets, two horns, and two bassoons.  Today’s edition features Krommer’s Octet Partita in F Major, Op. 57.  But wind-band music is not restricted to the classical period, of course.  So there will be a wide variety of other musical selections as well.

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (August 8, 2015)

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Etienne Mehul was considered the most important French opera composer during the French Revolution and is the first composer to be called romantic. During the revolution, he composed patriotic songs. He was able to make the transition to the French Empire and was on good terms with Napoleon Bonaparte and was among the first to receive Légion d'Honneur, an award established by the emperor. Today’s edition of BRP features a brass-band arrangement of the overture to his opera “L’Irato,” composed in 1801.

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (August 1, 2015)

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion is a program about music written for wind instruments and percussion. The only uniting theme of the program is that the music almost never involves any fiddle playing, although a little bit of fiddle sneaks in every once in a while.

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (July 25, 2015)

Friday, July 24, 2015

Born in Danzig in 1772, Antonio Casimir Cartellieri was a contemporary of Beethoven, who was 2 years older than Cartellieri.  Cartellieri's mother and father taught him music, but he ran away from home at 13 because of their troubled marriage. By age 19, Cartellieri was the musical director and court composer of Prussian Count Oborsky in Berlin, but soon moved to Vienna where he studied under Albrechtsberger and Salieri.  Very little of his music has been recorded, but we’ll here some on today’s edition of BRP, including some hot horn parts.





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