None of the members of the band on stage are professional musicians, but all of them are brought together by a love of music and performance.
On Sunday, March 17, the Washington Area Performing Arts and Events Center hosted the Eastern Iowa Brass Band.
Every Thursday for two hours, members of the Solon based band block out their schedules for practice. Director and conductor Alex Beamer said when recording sessions, competitions or weekend concerts like this one come around, they set aside even more time, and, “pretty much everyone is there every night.”
One of the newer additions to the band is 13-year-old percussionist Samuel Kenny, the son of cornet player Steve Kenny.
Samuel, a student of Beamer’s, had been going to rehearsals with his dad regularly. So when his dad mentioned the band was low on percussion players and they might need him to play, Samuel said, “OK.”
“It just gives you a cool feeling,” Samuel said of performing. “You went out and did something all on your own.”
While he’s been playing percussion for two years, this is the first concert he performed following the two holiday concerts that debuted him.
“Any of the parts in the band are pretty hard,” Beamer said. “The music is generally not easy, but (Samuel’s) picking it up pretty well.”
The group performed 10 pieces ranging from “O Magnum Mysterium” by Morten Lauridsen to Freddie Mercury’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.” For tenor horn player Amanda Stout, her favorite piece was “Solum Valeo” by Dean Jones.
“It starts off more serious and very emotional and it transitions into a rock ballet, more upbeat,” she said. “So you get a few more styles of music in there.”
Originally a French horn player, when one of Amanda’s friends invited her to join, she made what she describes as an easy transition to the tenor horn.
In attendance at the show were also members of Amanda’s family including Robert Stout. Though this is the first local show he’s seen his daughter perform at, he estimates having been at 10 of her performances since she joined the band two years ago.
“We’ve been following them around for a while,” Rob said. “She got in a couple years ago and we just love the music.”
While Rob feels his favorite performance so far has either been the band’s Christmas concert or their North Liberty concert, he enjoyed being able to hear them play locally.
“It’s like a home game,” Robert said. “I’d like to see them come down to Washington again.”
As far as events center chordinator Bob Youngquist can recall, this is the first time the band has come to Washington, though he would like to see them again and would like to see “a lot of band enthusiasts” drawn to the events center by them. This seems reasonable as, according to Beamer, the players themselves are enthusiasts.
“Being that it’s amateurs, they do it because it’s their passion,” Beamer said. “They show up because they want to and not because they have to, so there’s a raw bit of passion that you don’t necessarily get from professionals.”