• Interview with Dr. Paul Droste

    Nowicke: Can I interrupt? About the junior bands we have, you had a big influence here.

    Droste: Yes, Eric Aho, who has been our principal euphonium in the Brass Band of Columbus started his, I think, one middle school, and one high school band, just within that first year or so of the existence of the Brass Band of Columbus, and has really done pioneering work in that. At the competition in a couple weeks you'll hear youth bands at all levels of both the youth classes and the adult classes, and they always come in very well prepared and playing stuff that in some ways is over their head, but they manage to do it anyway. Of course Eric learned his brass band chops in the Brass Band of Columbus, and in the early years of the Brass Band of Columbus, we were not playing particularly difficult literature. So, in recent years, Eric has revisited some of those things that we were playing 10-12, and 15 years ago, and finding now that he has a youth band that can play much of that same material. So, it's a real sign of growth. I'm just not sure that there's any other city or area, either in the United States, or perhaps even in Canada that would have as many brass bands total as we do, because he's running three middle school-high school age brass bands, he's running a college brass band (which are mostly his staff assistants from the other bands), and then we have the Scioto Valley Brass and Percussion Ensemble, which does not compete, but will be at the contest as an exhibition band. We have the Columbus Citadel Corps, they're the hosts of our concert tonight, they've been going since 1885, and the Brass Band of Columbus, and the spin-off of that was the Central Ohio Brass Band. So, I think our count was around eight or nine, and the Ohio State University Marching Band, the largest all-brass and percussion band in the world is right here in Columbus and most of us came through that. We're kind of a brass band center of the country here.

    Nowicke: How many groups are you expecting in for this competition?

    Droste: They're telling me that there will be 20 bands, which is a little bit more than usual, but Columbus is centrally located. If you go East Coast or west of the Mississippi River, you lose bands just because of travel time and travel money.

    I think I do want to talk of what's most current in my mind in that the Brass Band of Columbus has been invited to be a part of a concert connected with the British Open this September. Paul will remember in the early days of the Brass Band, us talking about "getting to England somehow, some way." It is the Mecca of brass banding, and even if we would go to a contest there and get our clocks cleaned (which we probably would) it would still be worth it to hear the other groups, and meet the people, and learn the literature, and so on.

    I suppose after - this is our 16th year - I had just about given up that that was ever going to happen, and then one phone call, and one email, and all of a sudden, here's an invitation to be part of the British Open. Not a competitive part (because that's for British bands only), but to be a part of what they call "The World of the Brass Band," which will be held the day after the competition. Again, Norway, Belgium, a couple of England's top bands, New Zealand, and us. It sounds like it's going to be a marathon of some sort, but it's going to get us to England, it's going to get us there where we don't have to compete with British Brass Bands, but I assure you, we will be listening to them very closely, and just trying to decide how we fit in the scheme of things.
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