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

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 (February 4, 2017)

Saturday, February 4, 2017

The story of the Gilbert and Sullivan operetta The Gondoliers concerns the princess of kingdom of Barataria. When she arrives in Venice to join her husband-to-be (a prince), he can’t be identified because he was, as a child, entrusted to the care of a drunken gondolier who mixed up the prince with his own son. To complicate matters, the King of Barataria has just been killed. So the two young gondoliers must now jointly rule Barataria until it can be determined who is the rightful king.

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (January 28, 2017)

Saturday, January 28, 2017

When a taxicab injured 6-year-old Bert Kaempfert in 1929, his mother invested the small fortune from the lawsuit in piano lessons. Eventually, little Bert grew up, learned how to play the accordion and clarinet as well, and began playing professionally at age 16. During WW II, he served in a German navy band. In 1959, Germans record companies wouldn’t buy his recording “Wonderland at Night,” so he brought it to the United States where Decca records published it and it became a number-one big on the pop music charts.

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (January 21, 2016)

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Today’s edition of Brass, Reeds, and Percussion will have no Sousa marches, but will have two dances composed by the American March King. We’ll also have Polish and Romanian music, as well as some interesting arrangements of Bach. Brass, Reeds, and Percussion is a program about music written for the wind band or for wind instruments and percussion. We may play medieval wind-band music, classical wind-band music, traditional wind-band music, or even modern wind-band music. Essentially, we have only one rule about the music we play: no fiddles.

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (January 14, 2017)

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Georges Bizet was admitted to the Paris Conservatory at age 9, just before his 10th birthday. Unfortunately, he died in 1875 at age 37, producing too little music. To some extent, he is a one-hit wonder, known almost exclusively became of his opera Carmen. Today’s edition features a wind-band arrangement of the Carmen Suite, originally an orchestral arrangement of music from the opera. The performance will feature the Johan Willem Friso Royal Military Band of the Netherlands. The JWF regiment is the most senior of Dutch military forces.

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (January 7, 2017)

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Born in 1930, Bob Crewe wrote songs for the Four Seasons and many other rock and roll artists. Perhaps his most famous composition was a disco hit from 1974: “Lady Marmalade.” The group that performed the hit was La Belle. The co-author for Lady Marmalade was Kenny Nolan, another American songwriter.

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (December 31, 2016): New Year's Eve

Saturday, December 31, 2016

A trip to the cha cha palace for New Year's eve.

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (December 24, 2016): Christmas Edition

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion wishes you a merry Christmas, happy Hanukkah, and other holiday best wishes. Thank you for your support of the show and for your support of WLRH. Brass, Reeds, and Percussion is a locally produced show and does not originate with National Public Radio. As a matter of fact, Brass, Reeds, and Percussion is one of the longest running shows in the history of Alabama public broadcasting. That’s because of the predecessor host Darryl Adams, who hosted the show from its beginning in 1976 until his untimely death in 2011.

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (December 17, 2016)

Saturday, December 17, 2016

We often start playing Christmas music after Thanksgiving, but the traditional Christian liturgical period between the American holiday of Thanksgiving and Christmas is known as Advent. It’s a period in which we look forward to Christmas. In the Catholic, Episcopal, and Lutheran churches, especially, there are hymns for this period. In addition, there are certain secular songs which are more accurately characterized as advent songs—because they don’t have words about Christmas, but rather about how Christmas is coming.

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (December 10, 2016)

Saturday, December 10, 2016

When Germany invaded Poland in 1939, Stanislaw Maczek commanded the only Polish Army unit that was never defeated by the Nazis. Indeed, Col. Maczek’s brigade held off two German armored divisions for several days. Later, he and a small number of Polish soldiers helped to defend France from invasion in 1940. Next, he and his Polish soldiers went to Scotland. But finally, he and his First Polish Armored Division landed at Normandy and helped to free the Netherlands from Nazi domination.

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (December 3, 2016)

Saturday, December 3, 2016

We begin today’s edition of Brass, Reeds, and Percussion with the most famous march of Berado Sbraccia: “La Banda Nascente” (The Birth of the Band). He was a clarinettist, born in Teramo, Italy, in 1858. He was also a conductor, composer, and arranger of music of music for windbands. In 1897, he emigrated to the United States. In the 29 years he spent in the United States, he worked as a conductor of wind bands and orchestras. He was conductor of the West Hoboken Philharmonic Orchestra.

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (November 26, 2016)

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Today’s edition of Brass, Reeds, and Percussion will feature two marches written to honor electricity, both written by Italian composers. In addition, you’ll hear music by Italian opera composers and march composed by Czech march king. And we’ll hear a percussion-only arrangement of the Pachelbel’s “Canon in D.” We’ll begin today’s show with the overture to Giuseppe Verdi’s 1849 opera Luisa Miller. It’s a story of two men competing for the love of one woman, along with political intrigue and a murder-suicide.

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (November 19, 2016)

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Who conducted the U.S. Marine Band after John Philip Sousa resigned from that post in 1892?

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (November 12, 2016)

Saturday, November 12, 2016

As you may know, Switzerland is a trilingual county—with part of the population speaking French, part speaking German, and part speaking Italian. Today's edition of Brass, Reeds, and Percussion features someone from the Italian-speaking area of Switzerland. His name is Franco Cesarini, born in Bellinzona, Switzerland, in 1961. He studied flute and piano at the Milan Conservatory. He is currently the conductor of the city band of Lugano, Switzerland.

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (November 5, 2016)

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Wind-band music performed by bands from Austria, Spain, Italy, and Liechtenstein.

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (October 29, 2016)

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Today’s edition of Brass, Reeds, and Percussion features two pieces of music for Halloween contemplation:

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (October 22, 2016)

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Music composed or arranged by Hannes Apfolterer, an Austrian Army musician and bandleader.

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (October 15, 2016)

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Adam Bernick, representing the Huntsville Chamber Music Guild, is interviewed about the upcoming performance of the Philadelphia Brass on October 28, 2016.

Here is the playlist for this episode:

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (October 8, 2016)

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (October 1, 2016)

Saturday, October 1, 2016

In 1910, Giacomo Puccini’s opera The Girl of the Golden West had its world premier at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City. Puccini was in attendance. The opera is set in a mining town in California. The first act begins in a saloon. The opera has a chorus of singing gold miners, a bandit, a shootout, a potential lynching, and a saloon girl pleading for her true love’s life.

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (September 24, 2016)

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Giacomo Puccini’s opera Edgar premiered 1889. It was a flop, not so much because of the music but because of the libretto. Even a three-act revision in 1891 didn't achieve popular acclaim. Puccini eventually recycled some of the music for "Tosca." And Arturo Toscanini conducted excerpts from the opera at Puccini's funeral. Proving the old saying that opera can be about anything so long as you sing about it, the plot is just a bit raunchy—with orgies, arson, jealousy, revenge, and murder.




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