The Eastern Iowa Brass Band grew from a brass ensemble that was part of the Mt. Vernon, Iowa, City Band in 1985 after Don Stine, director of the city band, attended a seminar on the growing brass band movement in the United States. Regular rehearsals began soon thereafter, and the band competed in its first North American Brass Band Association (NABBA) Championship in April of 1986 where they placed second in their class. The strong showing at such a prestigious competition prompted the founders to incorporate and formed the foundation for what is now one of the most prominent amateur brass bands in the country.
Over the years, EIBB has been fortunate to be led by several outstanding conductors who donated countless hours of their time to the group. Kurt Claussen served as conductor from 1985-1986, followed by Steve Wright from 1986-1989. Following Dr. Alan Stang‘s tenure from 1989-1991, the helm of the band was handed to John W. de Salme. John, who retired in April of 2001, was succeeded by Thomas L. Nelson. Tom handed the baton over to Earle Dickinson in December of 2002. Then in August of 2007, Casey Thomas took over at the front of the band. Casey directed the band until securing a teaching position in at a university in Arkansas. Casey directed his last concert in September of 2010 and then passed the baton to Joshua Thompson. Joshua directed the band for the next year. Josh’s final performance with the band was the special 25th anniversary concert in August of 2011. Joshua accepted a teaching position at Wayne State College in Wayne, NE. Josh then handed over the baton to Kate Wohlman. In fall 2010 Kate began the Doctor of Musical Arts program at the University of Iowa, where she was awarded the prestigious Iowa Performance Fellowship. Kate completed her Dotorate degree in the spring of 2013 and handed over the baton to Paul Waech at the end of May. Paul has been the principal cornet player with the EIBB for more than a dozen years and is very comfortable in his new role as conductor of the EIBB. In September of 2013, the EIBB honored the request of Paul Waech to return to the principal cornet role and the board selected Alex Beamer as the new conductor of the EIBB.
|1985-1986 Kurt Claussen
1986-1989 Steve Wright
1989-1991 Dr. Alan Stang
1991-2001 John W. de Salme
2001-2002 Thomas L. Nelson
2003-2004 Don Stine
2004-2007 Earle Dickinson
2007-2010 Casey Thomas
2010-2011 Joshua Thompson
2011-2013 Kate Wohlman
2013 - Paul Waech
2013-present Alex Beamer
British band instrumentation features horns which are conical in design, producing a mellow, rich sound that is both dynamic and colorful. EIBB conforms to the unique British band style, characteristically limiting its instrumentation to brass, including cornets, flugelhorn, tenor horns, euphoniums, baritones, trombones, and tubas, as well as percussion.
The 35-member band performs from a repertoire which features original works for brass band, as well as arrangements of well known orchestral and wind band literature. In addition, featured soloists are frequently used in concert programs which also include marches, medleys, hymn tune arrangements, folk songs, American patriotic offerings, Broadway showtunes, and novelty features. The majority of the band’s concert schedule takes place during the summer months for community celebrations, civic events, and countless special festivals. They have performed in a variety of settings, from ornate concert halls to outdoor parks.
The Eastern Iowa Brass Band hosts its own annual brass band festival in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, attracting bands from all around the country. Local audiences can also hear the band at three annual subscription concerts presented in April, September, and December.
The EIBB has competed in the NABBA annual championship competition since 1986 and has been named division champions six times. They have also won seven NABBA video competitions. In 1991, the band was featured by the Smithsonian Institution in the Festival of American Folklife in Washington D.C. On four occasions EIBB has been invited to present a feature program at the annual convention of the Iowa Bandmasters Association, and recently performed to a sellout crowd at the American School Band Directors Association convention.
The US Open Championships started in 2003. For all but one year, the EIBB has competed. In 2008 the EIBB was awarded 3rd place out of the 7 bands that competed, the best we’ve ever finished.
In addition, Director Casey Thomas was awarded “Best New Composition or Arrangement” for his transcription of Robert Jaeger’s Esprit de Corps.
NABBA Member Bands