Utah Premiere Brass was formed in the year 2000 in an effort to revive a musical genre that was once the pride of almost every Utah community. At the turn of the 20th century, over 100 brass bands performed throughout the state. Today, UPB is the only known British brass band in the state, although it is hoped that more will emerge in the future. Consisting of thirty musicians, Utah Premiere Brass has attracted professional players from all areas of the state of Utah and even beyond.

This British-style brass band has a unique sound capable of playing whisper soft passages and powerful fortissimos. Performances featuring Utah Premiere Brass also showcase a breadth of musical styles, including original symphonies, light classical, jazz, Broadway music, solo concertos, and others.

Public response to Utah Premiere Brass has been astonishing. An emerging blend of musicianship and humor has produced overwhelming audience support, and the group is now a well known force in the performing arts world.

The brass band dates back to the early nineteenth century and England's Industrial Revolution as an outgrowth of the medieval waits. With increasing urbanization, employers began to finance work bands to decrease the political activity with which the working classes seemed preoccupied during their leisure time. Thus, the brass band tradition was founded. Fervent discussion has always ensued as to which band was founded first. Certainly the two bands with the longest traditions are the Besses O' The Barn Brass Band and the Black Dyke Mills Brass Band.

Taking advantage of improved mechanical skills and the rise of conservatoires and music departments at universities, the standards of instrumental technology and performance quickly improved. By 1860 there were over 750 brass bands in England alone. Although these bands were not fully comprised of brass instruments until the second half of the nineteenth century, the tradition developed to the present day current instrumentation of cornets, flugelhorn, tenor horns, baritones, trombones, euphoniums, B-flat and E-flat basses and percussion.

Brass bands in Great Britain presently number in the high hundreds with many of the bands having origins prior to 1900. Originally the bands were funded by coal mines, mills, and many today retain corporate sponsorship. To this day, the bands use only non-professional musicians who in former years were usually employed at the sponsoring company. It is a testament to the quality of performance in the brass band tradition that many players are able to secure professional positions as a result of their brass band experience. Indeed, several professional brass musicians in the USA began their education in the brass band world, New York trumpeter Phil Smith and Chicago trombonist Michael Mulcahy being two good examples.

What makes the brass band unique? All the brass music (with the exception of the bass trombone) is scored in treble clef, a characteristic that over the years has allowed for remarkable freedom among certain bands, making the transition from one instrument to another somewhat easier. The number of members (instrumentation) is rigid, usually limited to between twenty-eight and thirty players, but the repertoire is unusually flexible, with concert programs consisting of anything from original works, orchestral transcriptions and featured soloists to novelty items, marches, medleys, and hymn tune arrangements. With the exception of the trombones, all instruments are conical in design, producing a more mellow, richer sound, yet one that has wide dynamic and coloristic variety.

The term "brass band" is not entirely accurate, since brass bands also normally include up to three percussion players who are called upon to play as many as twenty different instruments depending on the demands of the music. Standard acceptance of more than one percussionist in the brass band is really a phenomenon of the last forty years, but one that has added immense challenge, interest and variety to the sound.

Although brass bands were an important part of life in nineteenth-century America, they were superseded by larger concert and marching bands. However, many fine historic brass bands are still actively performing today. During the course of this century the Salvation Army was predominantly responsible for maintaining the brass band tradition in America through their music ministry. Only in the last fifteen years has a brass band resurgence begun in North America. The formation of the North American Brass Band Association (NABBA) has been crucial and influential in the renaissance. Brass Bands are one of the world's most wide spread forms of amateur music performance.

Original works from Holst and Elgar to modern-day composers such as Philip Sparke, Edward Gregson and Joseph Horovitz have resulted in a growing and dynamic repertoire. American composers such as James Curnow, Williams Himes, Stephen Bulla and Bruce Broughton all got their start writing for brass bands of the Salvation Army and are currently writing brass band music in addition to their other compositions for band, orchestra and film scores.

There are presently more than a hundred brass bands in North America, and it is not only exciting to see the tradition making a return, but also such a valuable and unique contribution to the rich musical heritage of this country.

For many musicians in North America the brass band is an unknown phenomenon. The following is a synopsis of the traditional instrumentation provided by the current president of NABBA, Tom Palmatier:

One E-flat Soprano Cornet serves as the piccolo voice. It requires a delicate touch and is used frequently as a soloist or to add brightness to the cornet tutti sound.

Four B-flat Solo Cornets are the lead voices in the ensemble. The use of four cornets permits players to switch off on parts that are frequently continuous throughout the entire piece. Divisi parts are also frequent. The four solo players should ideally match each other in sound. Two B-flat Second Cornets and two B-flat Third Cornets fill out the cornet choir.

One B-flat Repiano Cornet is the "roving middle linebacker" of the section. Often used as a solo voice or doubling the Soprano Cornet in unison or at the octave. The Repiano is also used to add weight to the other Cornet parts.

One B-flat Flugelhorn serves as a bridge to the Tenor Horns. It is a frequent solo voice and is often used as the top voice in the horn family.

Three E-flat Tenor Horns (Solo, First and Second) often perform as a choir with the flugelhorn and baritones. The Solo Horn is a frequent solo voice. Also commonly referred to as the Alto Horn in the United States; it is an upright, three valve instrument, with a lighter sound than the French Horn.

Two B-flat Baritones are often doubled with Euphoniums but work best as lower extensions of the Tenor Horn section. As separate voices, their ability to blend and add a middle-low voice without heaviness is a unique feature of the brass band.

Two B-flat Euphoniums are the predominant solo tenor voices and also function as tutti enforcers with the basses.

Two B-flat Tenor Trombones provide punch and drive because of their cylindrical construction.

One Bass Trombone is both a low support for the trombone section and an additional weight to the tubas. As the only brass instrument to be reading in concert pitch, one must wonder what the early designers of brass bands were trying to say!

Two E-flat Tubas and two B-flat Tubas give composers extraordinary flexibility in dictating the sound of the bass part. The lighter quality of the E-flats can have all the lyricism of the Euphoniums while the fatter B-flat Tuba sound adds weight. In octaves or fifths, the section can give the brass band an incredible richness of tone.

Three Percussionists will cover the entire spectrum of percussion instruments. Timpani, battery, and mallets are standard for almost all compositions.

It might be worth stressing here that although brass band literature works most effectively with the appropriate instrumentation, a number of bands function quite successfully with the use of Trumpets instead of Cornets, and French Horns instead of Tenor Horns. The NABBA annual competition also has a section which permits more flexible instrumentation. And indeed several brass bands in North America perform popular repertoire that includes keyboards and electric bass.