The brand-new Fox Valley Brass Band, part of the Fox Valley Music Consortium, will perform in concert, April 23 with the NIU Wind Symphony at 8 p.m. in Boutell Memorial Concert Hall in the Music Building on NIU’s main campus in DeKalb.
Tom Bough, Professor of Music at NIU, is the director of both groups. He said the Fox Valley Brass Band is a different style of brass band, and will be debuting in this concert with the wind symphony.
“It uses some different instruments,” Bough said. “Like a tenor horn that we don’t use at all in our concert bands, all cornets and not trumpets. A flugelhorn, which is rarely used in concert performance, is an integral part of the brass band. We use a true baritone and euphoniums. It’s really, truly a different collection of instruments.”
This new brass band has more NIU connections than the director. Bough said there are a number of NIU alumni in the band, and some current NIU students.
“It’s a wonderful cross-section in regards to who are playing,” Bough said. “Our youngest player is 14 years old, and it’s my own son, Stephen. He is playing in the percussion section, and we have some retired band director types, so our oldest members are pushing 70. They are still active players and doing a great job.”
Jonathan Hauser, President of the Fox Valley Music Consortium, reached out to Bough late last year and asked him to help them build this band.
“We are excited to have the brass band’s inaugural performance be with the NIU Wind Symphony,” Hauser said. “We look forward to sharing some fantastic music with them. It will be a fun, collaborative concert. The Fox Valley Brass Band is a group of extremely talented musicians from around the greater Fox Valley community and Dr. Bough is doing a wonderful job directing the ensemble. We know concertgoers will be pleased with what we present on April 23.”
Bough said that the joint concert is just the start, and that the FVBB currently has 30 members, but room to expand to more than 40. He’s hopeful that the success of this concert will help spread the word about the opportunity for area musicians to participate.
His wife, Erica Bough, in addition to being a talented musician herself who plays the soprano cornet, the “highest voice in the band,” is the personnel manager for the FVBB. Erica is also a member of the prestigious Athena Brass Band, the first all-female brass band in the United States.
The Boughs actually met playing in a brass band in St. Louis.
The concert at NIU will feature both groups performing separately, and then coming together to close the show by performing the traditional piece “Amazing Grace,” chosen because it is ideally suited to be performed simultaneously by wind and brass.
Tom Bough says that from an artistic perspective, he relishes the chance to bring the two groups together. “We have the best of NIU playing with professionals. As a musician, that’s really exciting to do.
“The music is fantastic. There are literally thousands of pieces written specifically for brass band instrumentation by composers that we don’t hear much about in the States. Some of the pieces we’re playing in the concert, there are wind band versions of, originally written for brass band and then arranged for concert bands. It’s fun to go back to our musical roots. In a very literal sense the wind band movement in this country is drawn from the brass band movement that swept Europe 200 years ago.”
The concert featuring the NIU Wind Symphony and the Fox Valley Brass Band is Monday, April 23 at 8 p.m. Admission is free of charge.