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Monday, Nov 29, 2021

Georgia Brass Band brings big sound with sophisticated style

Georgia Brass Band director Joe Johnson takes a bow as band members stand for a roaring applause at intermission.
Georgia Brass Band director Joe Johnson takes a bow as band members stand for a roaring applause at intermission.

Cornets were ringing with whimsical repetitious phrases, filling the Mercer concert hall with excitement and jubilation.

The Atlanta-based brass band was full, bolstering a sound that you can feel in your bones.

Director Joe Johnson was precise and detailed with every moment of his conducting.

The music was fast-paced with a straightforward melody line.

The Georgia Brass Band thrilled audience members with a one-night-only concert on Sept. 22.

“It went very well,” said trombonist and Mercer Adjunct Instructor Hollie Lawing Pritchard.

The concert took place at Fickling Hall on Mercer University's campus.

Georgia’s only competitive brass band is featured as part of the Townsend School of Music concert series.

The 29-member band gave concert goers a unique experience. The Georgia Brass Band is modeled after British style brass bands that were popular during England's Industrial Revolution.

“There is an element of Salvation Army [band],” baritonist Robert Rickles said about the band's style.

Instead of trumpets, the band features the mellower cornet. Instead of French horns, E-flat tenor horns take their place.  

Rickles said the band's sound is a fairly specific instrumentation.

According to Johnson, the theme of the evening was variations and dances.

The program featured modern variations on historical musical compositions and instrumentations created for dance.

One of the most memorable was 18th Variation from “Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini” by Sergei Rachmaninov.

“It's one of the classics you hear in orchestral music,” Rickles said.

The gorgeously cinematic variation featured solo work from E-flat cornetist Douglas Lindsey.

With a beautifully balanced underscore from the rest of the band, Lindsey soared on top in the soprano part.

His honest performance allowed for a soulful and heartfelt solo.

The concert ended with a collection of 12 variations titled “Harmonious Variations on a Theme of Handel” by Gordon Langford.

The piece is an adaptation of “The Harmonious Blacksmith” by George Frideric Handel.

“It was an extremely challenging program,” Lawing Pritchard said.

Lawing Pritchard has been with the band for about 14 years. She met her husband while playing with the group.

The trombonist explains that the band is a family.

“We are definitely there for one another,” she said.

Although the band is entirely a volunteer commitment, Lawing Pritchard said she does it because the music is beautiful.

“I don't think I can convey… how much I love this band,” she said.


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