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John Hightower

John Hightower

Host of Brass, Reeds and Percussion

Born in Natchez, Mississippi, in 1951, John moved to Huntsville in 1975, where he worked for a communications training firm. From 1997 to 2022, John worked for the Lanier Ford law firm. During his tenure, He served as Lanier Ford's law librarian, marketing specialist, trainer, and professional recruiter.

From 7th grade to 12th grade, John was involved in band (he played flute and piccolo), a fact that explains his fascination with band music.

John graduated from Mississippi State University (MSU) with a degree in communications and from the University of Mississippi with a law degree. While attending MSU, he worked in professional radio in Starkville for WSSO and WSMU-FM (sister stations). While attending law school in Oxford, John worked for WSUH and WOOR-FM (sister stations). .He served as program director at both sets of stations. Radio was always a lot of fun for him, and he said, "I can't believe how lucky I am to be working in radio again."

John says he has big shoes to fill in following Darryl Adams as host of Brass, Reeds, and Percussion. Darryl passed away on October 18, 2011. But since that time, John has continued a Huntsville tradition at 1 p.m. every Saturday on WLRH.

Thank you, Darryl Adams, for the many wonderful years you dedicated to WLRH. You are missed!

  • In recognition of Memorial Day, this edition of Brass, Reeds, and Percussion features somber and contemplative music. In particular, this edition features the music of Robert Jager written for and performed by U.S. military bands. For many years, Jager was a professor of music at nearby Tennessee Technical University in Cookeville, TN. From 1962 to 1965, he was an arranger and composer for the U.S. Navy’s Armed Forces School of Music. He received his B.A. from the University of Michigan in 1968. He is the only three-time winner of the Ostwald Composition Award of the American Bandmasters Association. He has over 150 works to his credit, including works for band, orchestra, chorus, and various chamber combinations.
  • This edition of Brass, Reeds, and Percussion features original classical wind band music composed by Ferdinand Ries, a German composer who was a pupil, secretary, and friend of Ludwig van Beethoven. Ries was born into a musical family from Bonn, Germany. His grandfather was the court trumpeter for the Elector of Cologne at Bonn. His father was a violinist who was also the elector’s music director. Likewise, two brothers were violin players and one of these was also a composer. Ries began piano lessons with his father. But at age 18, he moved to Vienna and became Beethoven’s pupil and soon became his secretary as well, taking care of correspondence with publishers and copying music.
  • This edition of Brass, Reeds, and Percussion opens with a pasodoble written by Santiago Lope, a Spanish composer who lived from 1871 to 1906. At age 6, Lope joined the village band playing the piccolo. One day, a military band visited his village and the band director noticed Lope, resulting in his being sent to the Royal Conservatory of Music in Madrid where he studied violin, harmony, and composition. At age 15, he became a member of Madrid’s Apollo Theater orchestra. After becoming the principal violinist of another Madrid Orchestra, he became conductor of the Romeo Theater Orchestra. Then he moved to Valencia, where he started the Valencia Municipal Band.
  • This edition of Brass, Reeds, and Percussion features music of the Danish organist and composer Dietrich Buxtehude, who lived from 1637 to 1707 and is considered one of the important composers of the 17th century. He was born in Holstein, Germany, which was actually part of Denmark at the time of his birth. Buxtehude influenced and was respected by other Boroque composers such as Georg Michael Telemann, Johann Sebastian Bach, and George Frideric Handel. Bach walked 250 miles to hear Buxtehude play. When Teleman and Handel visited him, Buxtehude tried to talk them into taking his job and marrying his oldest daughter. This edition features a wind-band arrangement of a Buxtehude organ toccata.
  • Jiri Druschetzky was a Czech composer, oboe player, and timpanist who lived from 1745 to 1819. During his lifetime, the Czech Republic was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Druschetzky joined a band of an Austro-Hungarian infantry regiment and was stationed in a number of locations, including Vienna. He was a certified military drummer and eventually became the music director for a Hungarian nobleman who lived in Bratislava in what is today known as Slovakia. This was a time when noblemen typically had their own orchestras or at least a harmoniemusik, the German word used for the wind band from roughly 1775 to 1825. Druschetzky wrote symphonies, operas, and works for a variety of other musical groups. Today’s edition of Brass, Reeds, and Percussion features one of his partitas for harmoniemusik, which has parts for percussion.
  • During his lifetime, Antonio Salieri was very popular composer and had extensive influence in the world of opera. In fact, he wrote operas in three languages. But after his death, his works became obscure—only to receive modern attention as the result of the play and movie about Mozart called Amadeus. In the movie, Salieri is depicted as a villain, but best evidence indicates that the two composers were at least civil to each other, if not actual friends or amicable acquaintances. This edition of Brass, Reeds, and Percussion opens with a parade march written by Antonio Salieri for harmoniemusik, the German word used for the wind band from roughly 1775 to 1825.
  • Brass, Reeds, and Percussion always features a variety of music from different periods and of different styles. This edition is no different. It begins with a march by a circus-band composer and includes music from the movies, a jolly song written Lil Hardin Armstrong (Louis Armstrong's second wife), Parez Prado's last big hit from 1968, and a transcription of music by the Romantic composer Jules Massenet. It concludes with original classical wind-band music composed by one of Beethoven's chief rivals during the height of his popularity: Franz Krommer.
  • This edition of Brass, Reeds, and Percussion features music from the Renaissance arranged for the German band Salaputia Brass. The music was composed during the reign of Elizabeth I by the English composer Anthony Holborne. Brass, Reeds, and Percussion opens with a fanfare by Belgian composer Jean-Pierre Haeck.
  • Variety is the touchstone of Brass, Reeds, and Percussion, and this Saturday's edition features Dixieland, big band, classical, and 20th century music, among many other types. This edition begins with Dixieland. One of the up-and-coming Dixieland bands from New Orleans is Tuba Skinny. In addition to professional recordings, the band regularly performs on the streets of the French Quarter. Perhaps one of the strangest things about these musicians is that very few are from Louisiana, New Orleans, or even the South. Most are transplants from elsewhere in the United States—from Boston to Seattle—who were attracted to the musical traditions of the city. This edition of Brass, Reeds, and Percussion begins with two recordings by Tuba Skinny. The first is from 1921 and the second is an original composition by the band's leader Shaye Cohn, granddaughter of jazz saxophone player Al Cohn, who was a member of Woody Herman's band.
  • Today’s edition of Brass, Reeds, and Percussion features an Alabama-born musician popular during the 1920s and 1930s. He is Frankie “Half-Pint” Jaxon, born in Montgomery, but raised in Kansas City, Missouri. His nickname “Half Pint” comes from his 5'2" height. Starting in show business in 1910, he became a vaudeville singer, comedian, and stage designer. He often dressed as a female impersonator. He staged the performances of Ethel Waters and Bessie Smith, known as the Empress of the Blues. He served in the U.S. Army during WW I and rose to the rank of sergeant. During WW II, he worked at the Pentagon, apparently as a civilian.
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