Brass Band of Battle Creek — A vision of American success — 4barsrest

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Americans are at their best when they think big – and take advantage of it even more to make their vision a global success.


The Kellogg vision conquered the world

Americans are at their best when their sights are focused on something big.

Franklin D Roosevelt’s “New Deal” and John F Kennedy’s “Race to the Moon” were not only panoramic visions fueled by inspiration and ambition, but also a boundless determination to succeed.

So when it came to building a world-class marching band in a small industrial town in the heart of Michigan famous for producing breakfast cereals, Jim and Bill Gray were the right kind of people to do just that.

The founders of the Battle Creek Brass Band are two of the most interesting and invigorating visionaries you will ever meet in the world of banding. Successful podiatrists, neither claim to be high-profile musical performers.



An inspiring team: Bill Gray, Jerry Ross, Jim Gray and Shannon Aikins

musical vision

However, their musical vision was inspired by a chance encounter on a long car ride at night from a Band of the Black Watch concert in the early 1990s, with a man who revealed that he knew their father.

This prompted them to honor both him and the memory of legendary performer, conductor and pedagogue Leonard Falcone, who had in turn inspired him – the determination inherent in their individual personalities – contrasting and complementary.

“We wanted to do this for both of them,” said Jim Gray as we enjoyed a hearty American breakfast of easy eggs and coffee at a nearby restaurant.

“We were determined to do that too by bringing the best musicians here to play and inspire our local community – conductors, musicians and soloists. I hope we did it in a rather unique way.

“It’s important to us to do things right and give back to our community. If you don’t have ambition, you get second best. We have never been like this. Our community deserves the best and that is what we hope to have brought them with the group.



Battle Creek Brass Band

give back

Bill accepted. A former football manager, he has a much more analytical approach to the group, although his drive to succeed is no less direct than his brother.

“It’s important to us to do things right and give back to our community. If you don’t have ambition, you get second best. We have never been like this. Our community deserves the best and that is what we hope to have brought them with the group.

It was a difficult but memorable trip. The stories (tales of great conductors and late actors – back and forth) and memories of brilliant music almost turning breakfast into lunch.



A remarkable team of volunteers

much bigger

Backed by a hardworking Board of Directors and employing two tireless Executive and Education Directors in Shannon Aikins and Jerry Rose, they have certainly achieved their original ambition – and more.

The result is something.

Now they are focused on something much, much bigger.

However, he also retained a strong sense of philanthropy. In 2020/2021, the WK Kellogg Foundation has committed to disbursing $483 million in grants worldwide.

Philanthropy

Battle Creek itself was also built on the vision of two brothers – one that saw the youngest brother’s company sell its grain products to the world.

However, he also retained a strong sense of philanthropy. In 2020/2021, the WK Kellogg Foundation has committed to disbursing $483 million in grants worldwide.



The euphonium and spangled baritone section

Deep

Earlier this year, Brass Band of Battle Creek signed an agreement for a $250,000 grant over two years to support the implementation of a youth education initiative, which it is hoped will, in their own words, “to mentor and inspire young people to become productive adults by sharing the joy of music.

If successful, his proposal will be supported with an additional $2.7 million.

The long-term beneficial effect this could have on the next generation of Battle Creek children will be significant.

The long-term beneficial effect this could have on the next generation of Battle Creek children will be significant.

A city of just under 53,000 people in 20,700 households (2020 census), the demographics are austere.

Diversity has increased dramatically over the past 20 years; 25% of the population is under 18 years old. 22.7% of the population lives in poverty.


Future generations will be inspired by the group’s projects

Radiant with joy

And if anyone doubted how uplifting and inspiring a marching band can be to achieve these goals, they should have attended the free Friday morning concert given to over 800 school children at the magnificent WK Kellogg Auditorium (built as part of the public works initiative of Roosevelt’s “New Deal” in the 1930s).

Their faces beamed with joy and excitement, the screams that accompanied the credits of ‘Jaws’ could have been heard by John Williams in Los Angeles.

When it came to asking how many people now wanted to play a marching band instrument, arms went up in the air at every seat.

Their faces beamed with joy and excitement, the screams that accompanied the credits of ‘Jaws’ could have been heard by John Williams in Los Angeles.

To exploit

Harnessing this initial enthusiasm would become the backbone of the band’s future plans.

Its new administrative offices will be housed in the hall to launch wide-ranging initiatives that hope to raise school tuition fees, improve youth camp offerings, public youth concerts, artist tours and programs of music, as well as providing support for children wishing to make music. a central part of their life on whatever level they wish.


Jens Lindemann and his colleagues in the back row corent section

BBC Philosophy

The group is uniquely positioned to do just that; the administration and organization are first class, the promotion and marketing outstanding, the remarkable small army of volunteers exuding warmth and welcome.

The day before the main concert, two small groups traveled to the city to help with fundraising; the British led by Steven Mead, the Americans led by Jens Lindemann and his self-deprecating group called “The Ego has Landed”.

Whether it’s cooking group meals, helping the kids sit up, and even being unpaid night taxi drivers (from the main sponsor to a guy taking a whole week off) for players who appreciate the superb hospitality of the owner and staff of the local Griffin Pub – all are inspired by the BBBC philosophy.

The interpreters too.



All that jazz: Rex Richardson, Tony Baker and their friends…

The Ego has landed…

The day before the main concert, two small groups traveled to the city to help with fundraising; the British led by Steven Mead, the Americans led by Jens Lindemann and his self-deprecating group called “The Ego has Landed”.

Audiences moved between the two venues at the top of the main street for 30-minute slots and were treated to incredible playing: the Brits are all sight-reading virtuosos, the Americans ‘all that jazz’ . Together they raised over $12,000.

Lindemann is a musical PT Barnum – a force of musical nature.

The day before the main concert, two small groups traveled to the city to help with fundraising; the British led by Steven Mead, the Americans led by Jens Lindemann and his self-deprecating group called “The Ego has Landed”.

Less than 24 hours later (players really appreciate the warm, late-night reception), they were in serious gig mode.

Graceful elegance

The musical director is Michael J Garasi; a charismatic Floridian endowed with a wand of graceful elegance and an unfailing certainty of musical will.

His ability to choralize the disparate sensibilities of many of the finest brass and percussionists on both sides of the Atlantic was a consummate display of artistry in its own right – his quiet authority controlling an ensemble pot quivering with wild eagerness and meaning. a spectacle.



The Middle Man: Michael J. Garasi

Shard Jewel

Within an hour of the first rehearsal, he had created a balanced marching band sound; mold, shape and chamfer the edges to produce an energetic gem of shine and beauty.

And round the tiers shone a firmament of jeweled stars; Jens Lindemann, Richard Kelly, Michael Baker, Rex Richardson, Owen Farr, Gail Robertson, Steven Mead, Scott Hartman, Mark Frost, Les Neish, John Beck, David Hardman, Julie Boehler to name but a few.



Mutual Respect and Insight: The Neishes and the Great Marty Erickson

close cousin

Their love of the marching band milieu was one of insight and respect.

The program for this concert may have been a mixture of classical (with superb pianist Wei Luo) and Hollywood, but they understood perfectly that it had to be approached with a different tone.

As it closed, a large audience rose to cheers – the pride of their hometown marching band was evident.

The Battle Creek Brass Band has a very distinctive sound; incredibly brilliant and virtuosic, but still an identifiable close cousin if you like his older British sibling.

As it closed, a large audience rose to cheers – the pride of their hometown marching band was evident.

Hopefully it will be one they and future generations can enjoy for many years to come.

Iwan Fox

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