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 (April 9, 2016)

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Franz Danzi was born in 1763 in Schwetzingen, Germany, near Heidleberg and Mannheim.  His father was a cellist and Franz followed in his father’s footsteps by playing the cello as well.  He knew Mozart and Beethoven.  Carl Maria von Weber was his mentor.  Georg Josef Vogler was his teacher.  At some point during his musical career, Danzi became well acquainted with the characteristics of the wind instruments of the classical orchestra:  the flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, and horn.

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (April 2, 2016)

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Although his father was Czech, Franciszek Lessel was born in Poland.  His father was a musician, but didn’t encourage Franciszek to become a musician despite Franciszek’s apparent musical talent.  His father wanted him to study medicine, which he did. But along the way, Franciszek took music lessons from Franz Josef Haydn, who declared Frantsizek to be his favorite pupil.  But Franciszek was also Haydn’s physician, especially in his Haydn’s old age.  Today’s edition of Brass, Reeds, and Percussion features original classical wind-band music composed by Dr.

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

Saturday, March 26, 2016

What is now known as the Czech Republic is contains what was formerly known as the Kingdom of Bohemia.  The capital is Prague, of course.  The seat of government, somewhat akin to the American White House, is the Prague Castle, which has a guard—somewhat similar to our American Secret Service.  But unlike the Secret Service, the Prague Castle Guard has its own wind band.  Today’s edition of Brass, Reeds, and Percussion will feature Czech wind band music performed by the Band of the Prague Castle Guard. 

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

Saturday, March 19, 2016

In 1953, Jimmy Kennedy and Nat Simon wrote a song to mark the 500th anniversary of Constantinople being renamed Istanbul.  The Canadian group the Four Lads recorded the song, and it reached number 10 on the Billboard charts in October 1953 and became a gold record.  Curiously, the alternative rock band They Might Be Giants also recorded and  released the song in 1990. To feature percussion, today’s edition of Brass, Reeds, and Percussion features “Istanbul,” as performed by Enoch Light and His Orchestra.  

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

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Camille Saint-Saens was French composer who lived from 1835 to 1921.  He was born in Paris and  was a musical prodigy who performed his first public concert at age 10.  His instruments were the organ and piano. Today’s edition of Brass, Reeds features Saint-Saens’ Caprice, opus 79, for flute, oboe, clarinet, and piano, written for his tour of Russia in 1887.  It is performed by the Ensemble Villa Musica of Germany.

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

Saturday, March 5, 2016

In 1831, Johann Sobeck was born in Karlsbad, in what is now the northwestern corner of the Czech Republic.  He studied for 12 years at the Prague Conservatory and became a virtuoso clarinet player.  Eventually, he moved to Hannover, Germany, and became a member of the Royal Theater Orchestra, where he worked for over 50 years.  Although he wrote a large number of fantasies based on opera themes and similar works, perhaps his most outstanding works are four woodwind quintets.

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion: February 27, 2016

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Born in Madgeburg, Germany, in 1681, Georg Telemann was considered one of the most important composers of his day.  He knew both Bach and Handel, who bought and studied Telemann’s  published works. Telemann composed his first opera at age 12, in secret, because parents didn’t want him to be a musician.  When Telemann was sent away to school, his talent was encouraged.  In addition to the organ, he learned to play the flute, oboe, violin, recorder, double bass, and several other instruments.  He composed over 3,000 works.

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (February 20, 2016)

Saturday, February 20, 2016

When he was 23 years old, Carl Maria von Weber composed a one-act comedic opera called “Abu Hassan.”  It’s a story about a conniving, broke married couple who attempts to use their connections with the caliph of Bagdad to get money to pay their bills.  But Abu Hassan snookers his richest creditor Omar into paying the bills.  Today, we begin Brass, Reeds, and Percussion with the overture to the opera “Abu Hassan.”  No, you won’t be hearing the orchestra version of this overture.

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion: Black History Month Edition (February 13, 2016)

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Mostly likely born in 1898, Clarence Williams ran away from home at age 12 to join a minstrel show.  At the time, he lived in Placquemine, Louisiana, where he was born.  He moved to New Orleans and eventually started his own music-publishing house.  In the 1920s, the publishing house was the leading music publisher owned by African Americans.  He produced and participated in early recordings by Louis Armstrong, Sidney Bechet, and Bessie Smith, among many other African-American performers.

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion: Mardi Gras Edition (February 6, 2016)

Saturday, February 6, 2016

It’s time for the Mardi Gras edition of Brass, Reeds, and Percussion.  New Orleans is famous for it’s Jazz funerals.  In a traditional jazz funeral, the band plays a dirge on the way to the cemetery.  Once the funeral is completed and the deceased is “let loose,” the band plays an up-tempo number to celebrate the life of the deceased.  Today’s show will begin two typical compositions played at New Orleans Jazz Funerals.  First, we will hear “Just a Closer Walk With Thee,” followed by “When the Saints Go Marching In.” 

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (January 30, 2016)

Saturday, January 30, 2016

This edition of Brass, Reeds, and Percussion features the jazz standard “Sweet Georgia Brown” — composed by Maceo Pinkard, an African-American composer born in Bluefield, West Virginia, in 1897. The idea for the song and the lyrics were inspired by band leader Ben Bernie after hearing from his acquaintance Dr. Thaddeus Brown that he and his wife had a baby girl. Dr. Brown was a member of the Georgia State Legislature; and allegedly, the legislature passed a proclamation the baby was named after the state.

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (January 23, 2016)

Saturday, January 23, 2016

This edition of Brass, Reeds, and Percussion begins with "Death or Glory," composed by Robert B. Hall, the march king of Maine.  Hall is so popular in Britain, that the British think he's a British composer, but he was born in the United States and spent most of his musical career in the northeastern part of the United States.

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (January 16, 2016)

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Born in Pittsburgh, Billy May (1916-2004) had a big hit sung by Mel Blanc in a 1950 cartoon:  “I Tawt I Taw a Puddy Tat.”  But he also composed many themes for television  shows:  “Mod Squad” (1968), “Batman” (1967), and “The Naked City” (1960).  During the 1930s, he was arranger for Charlie Barnet, Glenn Miller, and Les Brown.

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (January 9, 2016)

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Born in  approximately 1990, James Dunlop plays the clarinet in the Band of Her Majesty’s Marines Portsmouth.  He is also an up-and-coming composer, having composed music for films, plays, choruses, orchestras, and wind bands.  His first choral album Ascension has just been published.  Today’s edition of Brass, Reeds, and Percussion features his composition Rise of the Royals, which was premiered at the Royal Albert Hall in 2014 by the Band of Her Majesty’s Marines.

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (January 2, 2016)

Saturday, January 2, 2016

One of the war horses of band music is the Light Cavalry Overture, by Franz von Suppé. His father never encouraged von Suppé to become a musician, but the local bandmaster did.  Living from 1819 to 1895, he composed over four dozen operettas—hardly any of which are performed these days. Nevertheless, his music remains alive in three places:  transcriptions of his works into band music; on the program of pops concerts, such as those conducted by the Boston Pops; and in cartoons featuring Bugs Bunny, Popeye, Mickey Mouse, and Dudley Dooright.

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

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Shall we dance?  That’s the musical question Brass, Reeds, and Percussion answers today.  Indeed, we begin today’s edition with the composition by that name, composed by Richard Rodgers, who lived from 1902 to 1972.  Rodgers is one of only two popular music composers to win an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar, and a Tony.  In addition, Rodgers won a Pulitzer Prize for his work.  In preparation for New Years Eve, we begin Brass, Reeds, and Percussion with the Kokyo Kosei Wind Orchestra performing their version of Richard Rodgers’ Shall We Dance.


Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (December 19, 2015): Christmas Edition

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Advent is the liturgical season that emphasizes the expectant coming of the messiah.  The predominate feeling is one of anticipation, and advent hymn have been written for this period.  Today’s edition will feature Sleepers, Awake, written by Philip Nicolai, a Lutheran hymn composer and writer.  It was first published in 1599 and was made famous by Johan Sebatian Bach’s cantata Awake, Calls the Voice to Us, BWV 140.

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

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Wilhelm Zehle was a German wind-band composer of what are considered British marches.  How did that happen?  He participated in a march-writing competition sponsored by the British music publisher Boosey & Hawkes and won four times.  The British publisher gave his German marches patriotic British names to sell them, such names as "Viscount Nelson," "Trafalgar," and "Wellington."  Wilhelm Zehle lived from 1876 to 1956 and played trumpet and cornet in a German military band.  He went to China for Boxer Rebellion circa 1900.


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.

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.




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