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

U.S. Army Materiel Command Band

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 (October 3, 2015)

Saturday, October 3, 2015

The works of American, British, Irish, French, German, Austrian, Czech, and Thai wind-band composers are heard on this edition of Brass, Reeds, and Percussion

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (September 26, 2015)

Saturday, September 26, 2015

A cortege is actually a procession.  Hence, it’s not really redundant to speak of a funeral cortege, but there can all sorts of other corteges as well.  For example, the students at the Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg, Sweeden, hold the Chalmers Cortege on April 30 every year.  Another cortege honoring Our Lady of Tear occurs in Kalfort, Belgium, in August every year.  This is a religious cortege than began around 1600 to honor a saint said to have the ability to cure eye diseases.

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (September 19, 2015)

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Why is Octoberfest celebrated in September? Actually, it’s celebrated in both months. As a Bavarian holiday, it begins during mid September and ends on the first weekend of October. The celebration began in 1810 when then Crown Prince Ludwig, later King Ludwig I of Bavaria, married Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen. The people of Munich celebrated the nuptials with wine, beer, food, and a big horse race. No doubt music was played and people danced as well. So today’s edition of BRP will feature German wind-band music.

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (September 12, 2015)

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Today’s show is a gallimaufry, perhaps a pastiche, maybe a melange of music, mostly from German sources, but all wind music—because this is today’s edition of Brass, Reeds, and Percussion, a program devoted to the music of the wind band.  Today’s edition has music from an opera, music from a film, German polkas, marches for military units, and 1970s European disco hits.  We’ll begin with the "Telefunken March" probably composed in 1924 by Johannes Evert (or Everst).

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (September 5, 2015)

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Aram Khachaturian was born in Georgia, the country, in 1903.  In 1921, he went to Moscow and studied at the Moscow Conservatory.  He composed a number of concertos, 3 symphonies, 2 ballets, and music for over 25 films.  Today’s edition of BRP features a wind-band arrangement of music from one of the films:  The Battle of Stalingrad.  The movie depicted the World War II battle, of course.  And the Battle itself began over 73 years ago on August 23, 1942.

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (August 29, 2015)

Saturday, August 29, 2015

In 1853, Richard Wagner used a solo anvil in Das Rheingold. Apparently, this inspired a German military musician in his 20s to write a polka for solo anvil: “The Amboss Polka.” The musician was Albert Parlow, who lived from 1824 to 1888. Parlow was the first German Navy bandmaster and composed the first German Navy march “With Full Sail.” Eventually, he became the director of music for the Prussian Army as well. He made the acquaintance of Johannes Brahmas and arranged some of Brahams Hungarian dances for wind band.

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (August 22, 2015)

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Today’s edition features the "Watermelon Man" by Herbie Hancock, a piece of wind-band music that started the boogaloo sound of the 1960s, but we will begin the show with a more traditional wind-band composition by John Morrissey, a music educator at Tulane University who lived from 1906 to 1993.  He received his master’s degree in music education from Columbia University.  In 1938 he joined the faculty of Tulane University, New Orleans, where he became professor of music and director of bands until his retirement in 1968.

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (August 15, 2015)

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Born a year after Handel’s death and dying 4 years after Beethoven’s death, Franz Krommer is a Czech composer most famous for his wind-band compositions.  These were composed for the harmoniemusik, the classical wind band typically consisting of two oboes, two clarinets, two horns, and two bassoons.  Today’s edition features Krommer’s Octet Partita in F Major, Op. 57.  But wind-band music is not restricted to the classical period, of course.  So there will be a wide variety of other musical selections as well.

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (August 8, 2015)

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Etienne Mehul was considered the most important French opera composer during the French Revolution and is the first composer to be called romantic. During the revolution, he composed patriotic songs. He was able to make the transition to the French Empire and was on good terms with Napoleon Bonaparte and was among the first to receive Légion d'Honneur, an award established by the emperor. Today’s edition of BRP features a brass-band arrangement of the overture to his opera “L’Irato,” composed in 1801.

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (August 1, 2015)

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion is a program about music written for wind instruments and percussion. The only uniting theme of the program is that the music almost never involves any fiddle playing, although a little bit of fiddle sneaks in every once in a while.

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (July 25, 2015)

Friday, July 24, 2015

Born in Danzig in 1772, Antonio Casimir Cartellieri was a contemporary of Beethoven, who was 2 years older than Cartellieri.  Cartellieri's mother and father taught him music, but he ran away from home at 13 because of their troubled marriage. By age 19, Cartellieri was the musical director and court composer of Prussian Count Oborsky in Berlin, but soon moved to Vienna where he studied under Albrechtsberger and Salieri.  Very little of his music has been recorded, but we’ll here some on today’s edition of BRP, including some hot horn parts.


Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (July 18, 2015)

Friday, July 24, 2015

In Prague, 134 years ago today, Julius Fucik was born. He graduated from the Prague Conservatory at age 19 after studying under Anton Dvorak. He became a member of the 49th Infantry Regiment Band of the Austro-Hungarian Army, conducted by Josef Franz Wagner and became a featured bassoon soloist for the band.

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (July 11, 2015)

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Florence is having the Handy Music Festival this month. The Shoals Community Band is having a series of four concerts. So today's edition starts with music composed by W. C. Handy, one of his biggest hits from 1912.

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (July 4, 2015)

Saturday, July 11, 2015

The “Star Spangled Banner” has not always been our national anthem.  Indeed, “Hail Columbia” was in the running for quite a while as the the favorite patriotic air of the United States.  Furthermore, the tune we know as the “Star Spangled Banner” is really a British drinking song entitled “Anacreon in Heaven.”  Francis Scott Key’s words were set to that tune.  And it only became the national anthem in 1931.

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (June 27, 2015)

Saturday, June 27, 2015

More blasmusik from the Woodstock der Blasmusik in Austria.

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (June 20, 2015)

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Hear blasmusik from Germany, Austria, and the Czech Republic, including a marsh by Julius Fucik, the Bohemian Sousa.

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion: Michael Jackson Edition (June 13, 2015)

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Michael Jackson is often called the King of Pop. He and his music dominated the popular music charts from approximately 1979 to 1992. His Thriller album was the best-selling album of all time. He received 13 Grammy Awards and had 13 number-one singles on the American charts. It should then come as no surprise that there are wind-band arrangements of his music.

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (June 6, 2015)

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Later this month, from June 25 to 28 in Austria in a little town near the northern border of Austria called Ort im Innkreis, the fifth Woodstock der Blasmusik will be held. Ort im Innkreis is roughly equidistant from Vienna, Munich, and Prague. The Woodstock der Blasmusik is a festival of both traditional and modern blasmusik or wind-band music. Meanwhile, you can hear traditional and modern blasmusik during this episode of Brass, Reeds, and Percussion.

The following compositions will be heard on this edition.

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (May 30, 2015)

Saturday, May 30, 2015

The traditional Bohemian, Austrian, or German polka band typically has an instrumentation of a two or three clarinets, accordion, flugelhorns, tenor horns, baritone horns, tuba, and drum set. Variations can occur with flute, piccolo, trumpets, trombones, and a guitar being added A recent trend has been to have all brass instruments.

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (May 23, 2015)

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Memorial Day started out during or after the American Civil War as a way to honor the more than 600,000 who died in that war. It was first called Decoration Day because people would decorate the graves of soldiers who had died in the war. By the 20th century, Memorial Day had become a holiday to honor all those who have died while serving in our armed services. Memorial Day shouldn’t really be confused with Veteran’s Day, which is to honor those who are alive and have served. So today’s edition is dedicated to the memory of those who died in service to our country.




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