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 8, 2017)

Saturday, July 8, 2017

On this episode of Brass, Reeds, and Percussion, you can hear a French military march with an intriguing Alabama connection.

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (July 1, 2017): Independence Day

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Today’s edition of Brass, Reeds, and Percussion focuses on the music of the Olde Towne Brassand features an interview with Bob Baccus and Terry Cornett of the Old Towne Brass. Almost all the instruments you will hear on the program are at least 100 years old. In cases, the instruments are over 150 years old. We’ll also hear some old recordings.

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (June 24, 2017)

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Today’s edition of Brass, Reeds, and Percussion will feature music about mountain cats and hot canaries.

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (June 17, 2017)

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Today’s edition of Brass, Reeds, and Percussion will feature two stratospheric performances—one on trumpet and one of clarinet. By stratospheric, I mean you will hear very high notes played on both instruments. Both stratospheric notes occur at ends of two compositions you’ll hear on today’s show. One is “My Way” and the other is “Concerto for Clarinet.”

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (June 10, 2017): World War I Begins

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Although World War I began in 1914, the United States did not enter the war until April 1917. Even then, U.S. troops did not reach Europe until June 1917. On June 7, 1917, in Camden, New Jersey, John McCormack recorded a song already popular in England. The song became the U.S. number-four hit of 1917. The Welshman David Davies wrote the music; Lena Ford, the first American victim of a German air raid on London, wrote the words.

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (June 3, 2017)

Saturday, June 3, 2017

La Artistica de Bunol is a Spanish wind band founded in 1883 in Bunol, a town about 16 miles west of Velencia, Spain. The band is well known for their first-class recordings. You can learn more about the band by visiting the program's Facebook page: WLRH Brass, Reeds, and Percussion. Over the past month, if you were listening to Brass, Reeds, and Percussion, you have heard the band perform arrangements of music from Wagner's Ring operas.

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (May 27, 2017): Memorial Day

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Today's edition of Brass, Reeds, and Percussion presents music suitable for contemplating the sacrifices of those we remember on Memorial Day.

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (May 20, 2017)

Saturday, May 20, 2017

The earliest record of shave-and-a-haircut-two-bits riff is in an 1899 song. The next identified publication occured in 1911. “Two bits,” of course, refers to a quarter in U.S. coins. In different English-speaking countries, it typically ends with different words: “five bob” for five shillings in Britain and “drop dead” in Australia. Numerous musical compositions include the riff, which is typically in as humorous musical punctuation. P.D.Q. Bach and Leonard Bernstein have both used the riff.

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (May 13, 2017)

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Before sales of MP3 files, sales of compact discs, and records; before radio, MTV, and iTunes, how was the popularity of tunes determined? Sales of sheet music, typically for piano with lyrics for singing.

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (May 6, 2016)

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Vincenzo Bellini was an Italian opera composer who lived from 1801 to 1835. Obviously, he died at a young age, but another famous opera composer Rossini admired him and made all of his funeral arrangements. Hence, Rossini buried Bellini. Born in Catania, Bellini was known as the “Swan of Catania,” because of his long and flowing melodies. Another admirer, Giuseppe Verdi, praised Bellini’s melodies and remarked that no one had ever written such long melodies before.

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (April 29, 2017)

Saturday, April 29, 2017

The Dalmation composer, Franz von Suppe lived from 1819 to 1895 and composed over four dozen operettas. At the time of his birth, Dalmatia was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Von Suppe was born in what is now Split, Croatia. He grew up in Zadar, Croatia, where he received lessons from the local bandmaster. Apparently, his primary instrument was the flute, but he was also an opera singer.

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (April 22, 2017)

Saturday, April 22, 2017

In the movie Amadeus, Antonio Salieri is depicted as the bitter rival of Mozart with the hint that he may have had Mozart poisoned. In truth, they were probably respectful rivals. And both wrote music for the wind band. Yes, that’s right. I said they both wrote music for the wind band—or harmoniemusik as it was called at the time. So today’s edition of Brass, Reeds, and Percussion will feature the music of the lesser known composer Salieri.

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (April 15, 2017)

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Today’s edition of Brass, Reeds, and Percussion features the complete Symphony 2 for Wind Band, composed by Ferrer Farran, born in 1966 in born in Valencia, Spain. At age 15, he was already an accomplished pianist and percussionist, touring and playing with numerous European orchestras. He now serves as conductor of numerous wind bands in both Spain and Italy and has served as principal guest conductor of the Venezuela Symphonic Band.

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (April 8, 2017)

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Born in the United States of Australian Parents in 1925, Sir Charles Mackerras arranged music by Sir Arthur Sullivan to create a comic ballet called Pineapple Poll. When he was 2, his parents returned to Australia. At 7, he started learning the violin and wrote a piano concerto by age 12.

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (April 1, 2017)

Saturday, April 1, 2017

The composer of our opening march is Heinz Herrmannsdorfer, born in Kempten, Germany, in 1923. He first learned how to play the piano, and then the trombone became his primary instrument. After WW II, he played in German nightclubs that catered to the American occupying forces. Eventually, he played with German big bands and is one of the original Ergerlander Musikanten musicians, made famous by their leader Ernest Mosch.

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (March 25, 2017)

Saturday, March 25, 2017

People tell me that one of the things they like about Brass, Reeds, and Percussion is the variety of music. This show certainly justifies that adjective—with music by traditional but modern Austrian composers, classical composers from Britain and the Czech Republic, wind-band arrangements of disco and rock-and-roll hits, and even some hot jazz from the 1920s. Brass, Reeds, and Percussion begins with a fanfare by Austrian composer Hannes Apfolterer, born in 1965.

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (March 18, 2017): St. Patrick's Day Edition

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Bagpipes aren’t limited to Scotland. They can be found all over Europe, and there is some evidence they may have originated in the middle East during the Hittite Empire. In fact, the earliest clear written reference to bagpipes in history is found in a French document that describes their use by the Scots in Battle of Pinkie Cleough in 1547. The earliest written reference to bagpipes in Ireland occurs in 1581. All this is to explain that as we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day on Brass, Reeds, and Percussion, don’t be surprised to hear bagpipes.

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (March 11, 2017)

Saturday, March 11, 2017

The music of Josef Triebensee is featured on today’s edition of Brass, Reeds, and Percussion. In 1772, Triebensee was born in what is today the Czech Republic, then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. At age 19, Triebensee was the second oboist at the Theater auf der Wieden in Vienna in 1791 when he played the premiere of Mozart's opera The Magic Flute. That explains why the second oboe part is so difficult. From age 12 to 34, he served in the emperor’s harmonie, which is the word used the classical period for the wind band.

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (March 4, 2017)

Saturday, March 4, 2017

On Brass, Reeds, and Percussion during the past 6 months or so, you may have noticed a great deal of of German or Austrian music, performed by German or Austrian bands. That’s because I’ve finally cracked the code to finding music from Germany, Austria, the Czech Republic, and other countries in eastern Europe. In any event, I’m pleased that I have encountered the music of the Hofbrauhaus Festkapelle. Translated, that means they’re a windband that plays in a beer hall in Munich.

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (February 25, 2017): Black History Month

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Today’s edition of Brass, Reeds, and Percussion celebrates Black History Month by taking a trip to New Orleans for Mardi Gras. We’re going to hear original recordings of two greats of the Dixieland and Jazz: Bunk Johnson and Sidney Bechet. And of course, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band will also be performing, as well as the Treme Brass Band. And we’ll have contemporary New Orleans performers like the incompaable Dr. Michael White on clarinet.




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