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  • Interview with Dr. Paul Droste

    Nowicke: Are you going to try to play American literature?

    Droste: Yes. Not only did they ask for that, but even before they asked for it, I told them, "I am planning a program of American brass band music." So, we have Jim Curnow (lots to choose from there), Steve Bulla.

    Nowicke: Any G.W.E. Frederich or anything old?

    Droste: Well, probably not, I'll tell you why. When we started the Brass Band, some people thought we were going to do the over-the-shoulder, turn of the century, or Civil War type thing, and it's just a personal lack of appeal of that to me. I just said, "No, we're going British, and that's it." So, we play hymn settings, we play test pieces, and so on. I have never really investigated I guess what you would call the early American brass brand literature. Somehow, marches and quadrilles and some of those things just don't do much to me, where we have some Eric Ball and Edward Gregson, and some other things we could be doing as well, or better. There are a couple of Civil War medleys, one that Jerry Bilik did, and Bill Hines rescored that for brass band.

    We might slip in something like that, but they've asked for one contemporary piece, and we have that, because a composer in Des Moines, Iowa by name of William Dougherty, was commissioned this fall, and he's delivered a very good 7 minute piece that sounds like Stravinsky, and we'll hear it tonight at the concert, and that's going to be one of our contest pieces. I'm thinking of filling in with lots of Sousa, lots of Fillmore, and whatever else we have time left for. I think some of the earlier hymn tunes like Amazing Grace, and what's the one we've been playing lately? Well, anyway, we have arrangements of some of the spirituals that I think are very nice, up-to-date, but very nice. So, I don't think we'll have any trouble. I think our concert time is around 40 minutes, so we're not going to have any trouble filling that, but we're not going to go in and play British test pieces. Absolutely not! [laughs] They don't want it, and we don't want it either.

    We're in the midst of a fund-raising drive, and you can tell who your friends are in the fund-raising drive. Several former members of the band have made very nice donations to us, and we appreciate that. We do find out, however, once we get past the brass band fans (those who subscribe to our newsletter, and have responded very well so far) when we get into the companies and the industries, we're not well known. We're not professional. We've been told in earlier years by some "We give generously to the Columbus Symphony Orchestra," or to the ballet, or to the opera, and "You guys don't fit in that category, and they're professionals, and you're amateurs, so thank you very much, but goodbye." So, we're re-inventing the wheel again, and we'll just have to see what comes out. You make phone calls, you use the connections that you have, and you ask for whatever they can give. We have a budget of $45,000. We are very close to having half of that literally in the band treasury, so we feel very good about that.

    Tonight's concert with the London Citadel Band, the Salvation Army officers themselves at a meeting, said "We would like to help the Brass Band of Columbus with this, and how can we do that?" There was a lot of discussion, and finally one of the Salvationists said, "Well, we could give them, say, half of the offering." Well, you go to a Salvation Army event, yes, there will be an offering. Of course I just smiled and said, "Oh, that's wonderful!" Then, another one of the officers said, "We're in fairly good financial shape here, why don't we give them the whole offering?" He was the new guy - it was the first meeting he had ever been to in this group! [laughs] So, he immediately became my best friend on the whole panel! So, whatever the collection brings tonight, it's going to straight to the Brass Band of Columbus. We're just overjoyed about that, and hopefully that will be in the thousands rather than in the hundreds of dollars! That will be a real boost for us.

    I should mention - talking about the Salvation Army, I think in England there's a lot of distance between the two. It's kind of like, if you're a fine euphonium player, and you're Salvationist, the Salvationists would say, "You can't play in one of the contesting groups," or if you play, then you have to drop out of the Salvation Army (at least out of the band), and the two just don't mix. That's still pretty much the attitude there.

    Nowicke: But their people are the ones who are writing all the charts!

    Droste: Oh yes!

    Nowicke: Even if they are doing it under assumed names!

    Droste: Yes, they have some of that.

    Nowicke: That's how I know Steve Bulla, from playing in the D.C. band.

    Droste: Were you here not too many years ago? Well, anyway, in Columbus, we have a unique "God and Country" concert that's the local Central Ohio Salvation Army and the Brass Band of Columbus, and they find a Salvation Army band that's either on-tour, or like London, Ontario, can make a run out, and come in, and we do a joint concert, and each play a half a program, and then combine for two, or three, or four numbers at the end. I find that that is not duplicated other places.

    Nowicke: Syracuse. I went to one in Syracuse.

    Droste: Syracuse does? I'm glad to hear that. That was one of my brass band workshops too, the university orchestra director was the host.

    Anyway, we have a very wonderful relation here with the Salvation Army, and one year they told us there was no Salvation Army band available, would we take one of their soloists? I played coy and said, "Well, who are you thinking about?" They said, "We think we can get Phil Smith." I said, "That's fine." [laughs] "You can send him every year if you want to." So, again, a good and basically unique relationship with the Salvation Army and the Brass Band.

    Of course, now, over the past, could be eight or nine years now, the Salvation Army band music is now open to anybody, where before... I visited the Salvation Army Headquarters in London in 1984 when I was over there on a leave of absence, and I was introduced to the Colonel, and the minute he heard "American band director," he said, "Now, you know we can't sell you any of our band music." I said, "Yeah, I know that." They've done that now, so there's probably as much Salvation Army literature as there was the contesting and the secular literature, so we really just doubled our chances for repertoire right there.

    Nowicke: Silly for them to miss a market.

    Droste: Yes, and they're charging a pretty good price for what they're doing, so I think they
    are making out all right.

    Nowicke: Our brass band was playing their carol books this year.

    Droste: Well, Mr. B., think of anything else?

    Bierley: No.

    Droste: I think I am talked out.

    Nowicke: Thank you very much.

    [End of Interview]

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