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 (June 18, 2016)

Saturday, June 18, 2016

This edition features, among others, the Royal Society Jazz Orchestra performing a composition written by Harry Warren and Henry Creamer.  Warren was one of the first composers to write almost exclusively for movies.  He was nominated for 11 Academy Awards and won 3.  Henry Creamer was an African-American composer of popular music with an Alabama connection, having composed "The Alabama Stomp" with James P. Johnson in 1926.

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (June 11, 2016)

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Classical wind-band music and modern wind-band music—a double treat on today’s edition of Brass, Reeds, and Percussion.  Today’s edition features classical wind-band music composed by George Druschetsky, who lived from from 1745 to 1819 and who was a bandmaster in the Autro-Hungarian Army; and modern wind-band music composed by Edward Gregson, a British composer born in 1945.  Brass, Reeds, and Percussion begins with "A Flourish" by Malcolm Arnold, performed by the Royal Artillery Band.


Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (June 4, 2016)

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Marvin Hamlisch had his first top-40 hit in 1965:  “Sunshine, Lollipops, and Rainbows.”  He went on to compose music for Broadway and movies.  He is 1 of only 12 people to be an EGOT:  a winner of an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar, and a Tony award.  Perhaps his most famous score was for the musical A Chorus Line.  He wrote music for such films as The Way We Were, The Spy Who Loved Me, and Sophie’s Choice, among many others.

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion: Memorial Day Edition (May 28, 2016)

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Monday is Memorial Day, and in keeping with its purpose, today’s edition of Brass, Reeds, and Percussion will play somber music.  Memorial Day started very soon after the U.S. Civil War as Decoration Day, when the graves of Civil War soldiers were decorated with flowers.  As part of the program, we’ll hear a “dead” march (funeral march) from around 1815 and Robert Hall’s "March Funebre," which was played as part of John F. Kennedy’s state funeral.  We’ll begin today’s edition with the U.S. Army Herald Trumpets performing Paul Murtha’s “Heroic Fanfare.”

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (May 21, 2015)

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Wind band music by composers from the United States, Ireland, Scotland, and England are heard on this edition of Brass, Reeds, and Percussion.  You can also find out more information about wind bands and composers on our Facebook page:  WLRH Brass, Reeds, and Percussion.  Today’s show begins with The Liberator march by Charles Ancliffe.

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (May 14, 2016)

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Yes, the Austro-Hungarian Empire did have a navy.  And Archduke Maximillian commissioned the frigate Novara to do an around-the-world scientific expedition.  The ship was named after the Italian city of Novara, where the Austro-Hungarians had defeated the Italians in a battle.  Novara delivered Archduke Maximillian to Mexico when he became the emperor of Mexico.  When he was executed by the Mexican rebels, the ship also picked up his body and returned it to Austria for burial.  While Maximillian was emperor of Mexico, Joseph Sawerthal served as the imperia

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (May 7, 2016)

Saturday, May 7, 2016

On March 15, 1870, Mr. Spong was doing business near  Brompton Barracks of the British Corps of Royal Engineers.  Mr. Spong mounted his horse to leave, but the horse was startled, galloped down the street, jumped over 6-foot fence guarding a 42-foot drop.  Fortunately, about 17 from the top of the  of the drop was a flight of steps that intervened.  The horse and Mr. Spong survived the plunge with only a few scratches.  After being assisted by officers of the Corps of Royal Engineers, Mr. Spong remounted his horse and rode home.

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

Saturday, April 30, 2016

In 1944, Claude-Michel Shonberg was born in France.  In 1973, he wrote most of the music for the first French rock opera:  The French Revolution.  For its production, he also played the role of King Louis XVI.  In 1974, he wrote the music and the lyrics of the song "Le Premier Pas," which became the number-one hit in France that year, selling over one million copies.

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

Saturday, April 23, 2016

At 81 years of age, Cy Payne has had a 60-year career in the music industry.  He’s been a conductor of bands and orchestras.  He’s composed music for film, theater, radio, and television, including jingles for commercials.  He’s composed music for orchestra, military band, and especially big band.  In fact, he still fronts a dance band in East Anglia, England, and has performed for the royal family at new year’s parties.  Almost every major British military band has arrangements of his works and he has been commissioned to write marches as well.

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

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Derek Burgeois was born in England in 1941.  He studied at Cambridge University and the Royal College of Music.  He is a tuba player who has written extensively for wind band, brass, band, and orchestras.  One of the most amazing apsects of his musical career is that he has written a symphony that is over 2.5 hours long.  On this edition of Brass, Reeds, and Percussion, we’ll hear Derek Bourgeois’ composition "Bridges over the River Cam"—right after an opening British march popular with California high school bands.

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.” 




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