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 (December 20, 2014)

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Holiday music, secular and religious, is featured for this episode of Brass, Reeds, and Percussion.  Wind-band arrangements of Bach works, traditional carols, and even some crazy Christmas music by Julie Giroux including What Child Is That Playing Carol of the Bells and The Little Drummer Boy’s Bolero.  Also featured is a big Christmas hit made famous by Eartha Kitt in 1953 and Madonna in 1987.  Even more curious, it was written by New York Senator Jacob Javits’ niece and has been covered by Lynn Anderson, Taylor Swift, RuPaul, and Miss Piggy of the Muppets, among many oth

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (December 13, 2014)

Saturday, December 13, 2014

When orchestral music is transcribed—or arranged—for wind band, some instrument has to take the place of the violins.  That instrument is the clarinet.  So today, we’re featuring the "Young People’s Guide to the Clarinet Choir."  Just as the "Young People’s Guide to the Orchestra" allows one to hear the sounds of the different orchestral instruments, this composition allows one to hear the sounds made by the different members of the clarinet choir.

Brass, Reeds, and Perucssion (December 6, 2014)

Friday, December 5, 2014

The tune to which we sing the Christmas carol "Good Christian Friends, Rejoice" is called "In Dulci Jubilo."  We are more certain of the author of the original words than we are of the composer of the melody.  The original words—not well translated into English by the carol we sing to the tune—are said to have been revealed to Henreich Suese in 1328 in a vision.  The earliest written version of the tune dates from 1400.  The earliest English version appeared c.

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (November 29, 2014)

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Johann Joseph Fux, an Austrian composer who lived from 1660-1748, wrote the Gradus ad Parnassum, a treatise about counterpoint.  The only known surviving book from Johann Sebastian Bach’s personal library is a first edition of this book.  Haydn used the book (not Bach's copy) to teach himself counterpoint and recommended it to Beethoven.  Mozart had a well-annotated copy.  This edition of Brass, Reeds, and Percussion gets the holiday season underway with Baroque Christmas music by Fux.

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (November 22, 2014)

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Joeseph Triebensee was an oboe player who lived from 1772 to 1846, eventually becoming the director of the Prague Opera House.  He is perhaps most famous for arranging Mozart’s operas for wind band (called a harmonie at that time), but also arranged works of Haydn, Schubert, and Cherubini for wind band. Triebensee was also an original composer, mostly for wind band.  Today’s program features a performance of his Concertino for Piano and Wind Band in five movements.


Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (November 15, 2014)

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Fredé Grofé left home at 14 to work as a milkman, truck driver, usher, newsboy, elevator operator, helper in a book bindery, iron factory worker, and finally as a piano player in a bar for two dollars a night.  Grofé, who lived from 1892 to 1972, is perhaps most famous for arranging George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue.  He was nevertheless a composer in his own right.  He received his first commission at age 17.  From 1920 to 1932, he was the chief arranger for the Paul Whiteman orchestra.  This edition features a wind-band arrangement of Grofé's Mississippi Sui

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (November 8, 2014)

Saturday, November 8, 2014

This edition features classical wind-band (harmonie) music by Guiseppi Maria Cambini (1746-1825).  His works presented here are not transcriptions or arrangements for wind band.

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (November 1,2014)

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Sir Arthur Sullivan did more than compose operettas with W. S. Gilbert.  Born in 1842 to the son a military band director, Sullivan learned to play almost all the wind band instruments by approximately 8 years old.  He composed his first anthem at the same age.  His first published work came at age 15.  In addition to 23 operettas, Sullivan composed 13 major orchestral works, 8 choral works and oratorios, 2 ballets, incidental music to several plays, and numerous hymns and other church pieces, songs, and piano and chamber pieces.

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (October 25,2014)

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Alfred Reed, who lived from 1921 to 2005, was an American composer, arranger, conductor, and music educator. His birth name was Alfred Friedman; but by the time he was 10, he was playing trumpet professionally under the name Alfred Reed.  During WWII, he was associate conductor of the 529th U.S. Air Force Band.  Eventually he became a professor at the University of Miami of Florida.  Reed wrote over 250 works, mostly for wind band. He also appeared as a guest conductor with wind ensembles throughout the world.   This edition features Alfred Reed's music.

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (October 11,2014)

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Today’s edition asks the musical question: “What does a soprano trombone sound like?”  To answer that question we’re going to listen to trombone choir perform a composition by
Carl Heinrich Graun, a German opera composer who lived from 1704 to 1759.  Graun was born in Wahrenbrück. From 1740 until his death, we was the court musical director for Frederick the Great and even composed an opera using an libretto written by Frederick.  Today's edition features music written for the trombone.

Brass, Reeds and Percussion (October 4, 2014)

Thursday, October 2, 2014

In recognition of the Canadian Brass coming to Huntsville for a concert, this edition features music played by the Canadian Brass.

Brass, Reeds and Percussion (September 27, 2014)

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (September 20,2014)

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Gavin and Iain Sutherland originally performed as a rock music duo in Britian in the early 1970s. From 1973 to 1978, they joined with rock band Quiver to record and tour as Sutherland Brothers & Quiver and had a significant international hit single with the song "Arms of Mary" in 1976.  During this period, Gavin Sutherland wrote a song called "Sailing," but the version released by the Sutherland Bros.

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (September 13, 2014)

Saturday, September 13, 2014

This edition features the Band of the Waterloo Division of the British Army.  The featured composer will be Karl L. King.  King was a circus band composer, performer, and conductor who was born in Ohio in 1891.  He died in Fort Dodge, Iowa, in 1971 after spending 51 years conducting the Fort Dodge Municipal Band.  He’s considered primarily responsible for passing the Iowa Band Law, allowing Iowa counties and municipalities to collect a tax to support community bands.  And his marches are considered among the most difficult to play. 

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (September 6, 2014)

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Nulli Secundus is the motto of the Coldstream Guards.  It is the oldest continuously operating military unit in the British Army.  The motto means second to none.  In keeping with this, the regiment has always insisted that if it cannot march at the head of the Household Division then it will march at the end.  And they have had a band since at least 1742.  This edition features performances by the Band of the Coldstream Guards, especially of arrangements or compositions by Lt. Col. Trevor Sharpe, its director from 1963 to 1974.

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (August 30,2014)

Saturday, August 30, 2014

How did a British military unit get a German composition about Italian violinists as its official march?  As teenagers in the 1840s, the Milanollo sisters toured Europe to great acclaim.  Inspired by these prodigies, Johann Valentin Hamm, a German composer and violin player from Wurzburg, Bavaria, composed a tune in their honor.  When the sisters visited Britain in 1845, they played the tune and it became very popular.  In 1882, it was adopted as the official quick march of the Coldstream Guards.  And it’s a real toe-tapper.  This edition of BRP opens with the Band of the Coldstream Guards

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (August 23, 2014)

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Here’s a summary of events from 1937, published in the "School Musician" magazine: Band music has played a big role the lives of the men of industry.  Charles Schwab, president of Bethlehem Steel, plays the piano and Andrew Carnegie often asks him to begin meetings of leaders of the industry by playing the piano.  Felix Dupont plays baritone horn with the Wilmington Police Band.  Bennet Chapple, vice president of American Rolling Mills, played the clarinet in his home-town band.  And Charles Gates Dawes, banker and former vice president of the United States from 1924 to 1929, plays the flut

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (August 16,2014)

Saturday, August 16, 2014

This edition features classical wind band music from the time of Mozart, music from America’s golden age for wind bands, music written by King Henry VIII of England, a bit of 20th century Russian opera music, and even a little hot Chicago Jazz.  The only thing uniting all this music is that it’s played on wind instruments and percussion.  And every once in a while, a string or two are attached.  This edition includes the big hit from 1919 that spent 13 weeks on the charts and sold 5 million copies.

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (August 9, 2014)

Saturday, August 9, 2014

In 1922, the almost complete tomb of the Egyptian pharoah Tutankamun was discovered.  Not only did this give anthropologists insights into ancient Egyptian culture, but it also affected current popular culture.  Tutankamun became known as King Tut, and that name was used for consumer products, businesses, and even the name of President Herbert Hoover’s dog.  And there is a connection to band music.  In this case, it’s a popular song written in 1923 by Tin Pan Alley great Harry Von Tilzer.  From the soundtrack of the television show Boardwalk Empire, this edition opens with "

Brass, Reeds, and Percussion (August 2, 2014)

Saturday, August 2, 2014

This edition has a variety of music:  drum-and-fife marches, traditional marches, British light music for wind band, Dixieland, and classical wind-band  music from the 1700s.  The show begins with a "March Slav" by Adolf Lotter, a Czech composer born in Prague in 1871.  He studied composition under Anton Dvorak.  Later, he moved to Britain where he played string bass and tuba for the London Symphony Orchestra and composed a number of wind-band marches, along with symphonic works. 




WLRH Public Radio
UAH Campus
John Wright Drive
Huntsville, AL 35899

Get Directions


(256) 895-9574

(800) 239-9574