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Eric Molho

Design Team Creates ‘What’s Next’ for Minnesota Brass

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Minnesota Brass Drum and Bugle Corps has announced its design team for the 2018 season.
Todd Tanji, executive director, will serve as staff coordinator for the program and lead a highly experienced team of drum-corps professionals. Wil Furnstahl, who has served as Minnesota Brass’ color-guard caption head for several seasons, is taking on new responsibilities as visual coordinator and will be responsible for the design of all visual elements of the corps’ presentation. Brandon Wickham will join the Minnesota Brass team as drill designer, while Matt Ferry and Phil Snyder will serve as music coordinators, and Ward Miller will take the role of brass arranger and educational advisor. Leading the percussion program are long-time Minnesota Brass instructors Joel Matuzak (battery arranger) and Craig Myers (front ensemble arranger and sound designer). Minnesota Brass alum John Ebert will serve as prop coordinator.

Brass, percussion and conductor auditions for the 2018 edition of Minnesota Brass will be held on Sunday, Feb. 11, 2018, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Brooklyn Center High School in suburban Minneapolis. More information for prospective members is available online

Will Furnstahl
Will Furnstahl has led Minnesota Brass’ color guard for several years, including the 2011 DCA World Championship season, when his unit won top honors. He also is the director of MBI Winter Guard, which placed second at the 2017 Independent A Class WGI World Championships. He has led several winter-guard champions in the North Star Color Guard Circuit, including those at Park Center High School, Eclipse and Elk River. He has performed with the St. Cloud All-City Marching Band, the Royal Guard of the Twin Cities, Heritage Winter Guard of Madison, Wis., and Minnesota Brass. He has been teaching color guard since 1997 and is an adjudicator with the Tri-State Judges Association.

Brandon Wickham
An international clinician, visual designer and drill writer from California, Brandon Wickham began his marching career as a baritone player in 2004 with the Vanguard Cadet Drum and Bugle Corps from Santa Clara, Calif., and went on to join the Blue Devils Drum and Bugle Corps in 2005.

Since aging out from the Blue Devils organization in 2008, Wickham has gone on to work with several award-winning high-school programs throughout California and the Midwest. From 2011 to 2015, Wickham worked as a designer and visual caption head of the 2011 and 2012 Western Band Association (WBA) Champion and 2013 Bands of America (BOA) Grand National finalist Ayala High School Band and Color Guard of Chino, Calif., as well as the 2013 WBA Champion Upland (Calif.) High School Highland Regiment Marching Band, and the 2014-2105 WBA class champion Cerritos (Calif.) High School Regiment of Gold Marching Band. After the 2015 competitive season, Wickham moved to Indianapolis, Ind., where he has since joined the staffs of several prestigious high-school programs including the Avon High School Marching Black and Gold, the Ben Davis High School Marching Giants of Indianapolis and the Center Grove High School Marching Band of Greenwood, Ind.

Matt Ferry
Ferry is a Minneapolis native who has been active in the marching arts since he began performing with the front ensembles at the Blue Stars (1998) and the Cavaliers (1999-2002) drum and bugle corps. While with The Cavaliers, he was a member of two high-percussion sections and three consecutive Drum Corps International World Championships. In 2003, Matt became the front-ensemble coordinator and arranger for Minnesota Brass. During his time with MBI, the corps received four Drum Corps Associates percussion titles, won the DCA World Championship in 2011; he also developed the Minnesota Brass Indoor winter drumline, which celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2017.

After receiving his B.A. in Music Education at the University of Minnesota in 2005, Ferry worked for MakeMusic Inc., with which he helped introduce the SmartMusic music-learning software program into international markets, developed partnerships with DCI and BOA, and assisted with the implementation of music technology into more than 300 school districts across the United States.

Most recently, Ferry took a three-year hiatus from Minnesota winters and moved to Austin, Texas, where he worked with the front ensembles at the suburban Dripping Springs High School, Claudia Taylor Johnson High School of San Antonio, Texas, and was a founding designer/coordinator of 5points Percussion from San Antonio. Ferry currently works for Edmentum Inc. from his home office in St. Paul, Minn., where he supports digital learning outcomes for more than 350 school systems in New England and New Jersey. He also serves on the Board of Directors of Invictus World Color Guard of Austin, Texas, where he assists with corporate partnerships and web design. Ferry has been an Innovative Percussion Artist since 2003.

Joel Matuzak
Joel has been the program coordinator for Minnesota Brass since 2002 and percussion caption head since 1998. Under his leadership, the corps has won the DCA Open Class Championship (2011) and been a silver medalist five times, as well as winning four DCA percussion titles. He is the design coordinator for the Minnesota Brass Indoor Drumline and has been the head instructor of the Sköl Line, a drumline for the Minnesota Vikings NFL franchise, since 2008. He is highly regarded as an arranger, drill writer, clinician and adjudicator. He has instructed and arranged for many marching ensembles throughout the United States. He is an alumni of the Madison Scouts drum and bugle corps, member of both the Minnesota Percussion Association and Minnesota Brass hall of fame, and a 2012 inductee of the World Drum Corps Hall of Fame. He is a graduate of St. Cloud State University with a degree in music education. He has been the director of instrumental music at Highland Park Senior High School in St. Paul since 1997.

Craig Myers
A percussion educator, clinician, composer and arranger from Minneapolis, Minn., Myers will mark his third season as front-ensemble coordinator for the Colts Drum and Bugle Corps of Dubuque, Iowa, as well as designing and educating for Minnesota Brass Indoor and the drumlines at Eden Prairie, Minn., and Waconia, Minn., high schools. He also educates a studio of 20 young percussionists through private lessons, and serves on the Board of Directors of the Minnesota Percussion Association.

As a performer, Myers received First Place honors in the 2009 St. Cloud Symphony Orchestra Young Performers Concerto Competition and is a recipient of the David Swenson Scholarship for Percussion. He has performed as a world finalist with several marching ensembles, including Dayton, Ohio’s Rhythm X (2008 WGI Independent World champions), The Cadets Drum and Bugle Crops (Allentown, Pa.) and the Bluecoats Drum and Bugle Corps (Canton, Ohio), along with numerous Minnesota percussion and wind ensembles. He has performed with the orchestra for the Merce Cunningham Dance Group’s production of “Ocean,” which the Los Angeles Times described as “One of the Top Ten Musical Events of 2008”, and participated in the Northwestern University 2009 Percussion Symposium.

Myers received his Bachelor of Music in Percussion Performance degree from Minnesota’s St. Cloud State University.

Ward Miller
Miller earned his Bachelor of Music degree from Auburn University in 2001, where he served as arranger and undergraduate teaching assistant with the Auburn University Marching Band. He graduated from Arizona State University in 2003 with a master’s degree in Trombone Performance, and served as part-time assistant and clinician with the Paradise Valley (Phoenix, Ariz.) High School bands, the Mesa Community College Wind Ensemble and the Phoenix Symphony Guild Youth Orchestra. He has also taught in Alabama public schools, serving as director of bands at Andalusia High School and at Pleasant Grove High School. In 2006, he accepted a graduate teaching assistantship at the University of Iowa, where he studied band conducting. While at Iowa, he also worked as a teaching assistant with the Hawkeye Marching Band, for which he wrote, taught, and conducted multiple arrangements and halftime drills. He also conducted the University of Iowa Concert Band and earned the 2008 Outstanding Graduate Teaching Assistant award from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Miller graduated in 2011 from the University of Iowa with a Doctorate of Musical Arts degree in Band Conducting.
In 2014, Miller was appointed brass caption head for the Blue Stars Drum and Bugle Corps of La Crosse, Wis. He is an associate member of College Band Directors National Association, the National Association for Music Education and the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers.

Phil Snyder
A graduate of the University of Minnesota, where he studied music education, and the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, where he studied trumpet performance, Snyder currently is band director for the Waconia (Minn.) School District, where he directs middle- and high-school ensembles. He is also an accomplished drill designer; bands that have performed Snyder’s designs have won 11 state championships and numerous sweepstakes awards. He has also been involved with drum and bugle corps for the past 17 years as a performer, instructor and designer for DCI World Class, DCI Open Class and DCA ensembles, most notably with Minnesota Brass and the Dubuque, Iowa-based Colts and Colt Cadets.

John Ebert
John Ebert is adedicated performer and volunteer with Minnesota Brass. He marched nine seasons on trumpet and two on mellophone between 1998-2010. He has also played trumpet and baritone with Minne-Brass since 2005. Additionally, he has served on the Board of Directors, instructed with Minne-Brass and served as a driver for the corps equipment trucks. John designed and produced the distinctive geodesic globe for the 2014 Supernova production.

2017 Awards Announced at Minnesota Brass Banquet

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Minnesota Brass celebrated the 2017 season of the drum corps on Friday evening, November 3.  Kirk ‘Tiny’ Fladung received Minnesota Brass’s highest honor, the Brassy, after years of service and participation dating back to 1992.  Other major awards included the Caliguiri Award to long-team color guard performer Becci O’Kane and the Lou Raitch Spirit of MBI Award to rookie Bill Ressler.  Michelle Jensen was recognized for her outstanding service with the Director’s Appreciation Award.

MBI 2017 Awards

Brassy-
Kirk “Tiny” Fladung

Lou Raitch Spirit of MBI Award-
Bill Ressler

Caliguiri Award-
Becci O’Kane

Directors Appreciation-
Michelle Jensen

Visual Awards-

Rookie of the Year- Alexis Miller
Most Improved- Lydia Larson
Member of the Year- Alex Gray

Hornline Awards-

Rookie of the Year- Bill Ressler
Most Improved- Anna Bialke
Member of the Year- Marissa Moeller

Percussion Awards-

Rookie of the Year- Rachel Skunes
Most Improved- Matt Schmeichel
Member of the Year- Sam Peck

Color guard Awards-

Rookie of the Year- Jenna Schunk
Most Improved- Maddie Rheault
Member of the Year- Dani Lovitz

 

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Brassy Award winner Tiny Fladung

Minnesota Brass Announces 2018 Brass Staff Leadership

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Former Drum Corps Associates (DCA) World Champions Minnesota Brass has named its brass leadership team for the 2018 season. Dr. Ward Miller will serve as Brass Arranger and Educational Advisor, Roque Diaz will serve as Brass Caption Head, Phil Snyder will serve as Brass Music Coordinator and Instructor, and Paul Terry will serve as Brass Instructor. The team will be supported by additional talented technicians to be announced later.

“We are excited to welcome this team of high-caliber talent and energy into the 2018 brass program,” said Todd Tanji, executive director of Minnesota Brass. “Each of these individuals has extensive experience both within and outside of the drum-corps realm which will enable us to provide a well-rounded musical experience to our members.”

Ward Miller

Ward Miller earned his bachelor of music degree from Auburn University in 2001, where he served as arranger and undergraduate teaching assistant with the Auburn University Marching Band. He graduated from Arizona State University in 2003 with a master’s degree in Trombone Performance, and served as part-time assistant and clinician with the Paradise Valley High School bands, the Mesa Community College Wind Ensemble and the Phoenix Symphony Guild Youth Orchestra. He has also taught in Alabama public schools, serving as Director of Bands at Andalusia High School and at Pleasant Grove High School. In 2006, he accepted a graduate teaching assistantship at the University of Iowa, where he studied with Dr. Myron Welch in Band Conducting. While at Iowa, he also worked as a teaching assistant with the Hawkeye Marching Band, for whom he wrote, taught, and conducted multiple arrangements and halftime drills. He also conducted the University of Iowa Concert Band and earned the 2008 Outstanding Graduate Teaching Assistant award from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Miller graduated in 2011 from the University of Iowa with a Doctorate of Musical Arts degree in Band Conducting.

In 2014, Miller was appointed Brass Caption Head for the Blue Stars Drum and Bugle Corps of La Crosse, Wis. He is an associate member of College Band Directors National Association, the National Association for Music Education and the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers.

Roque Diaz

Scholar, educator, composer, creator, musician and music director, Roque Diaz is pursuing a Ph.D. in Music Education and Creative Studies and Media at the University of Minnesota. Diaz’s research interests are in arts-education policy and embedding diversity into the arts. Roque recently presented “Policies that Matter: Creating a Voice through Policy Awareness for Music Teacher Educators”, at the 2017 Society for Music Teacher Educators Conference in Minneapolis, MN.

Roque has developed a keen artistic eye and endless creative ideas travelling the world performing in such hit shows as “Jersey Boys”, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”, “Josh Groban on Tour”, “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang”, “Chicago the Musical”, “Blast!”, and much more. During Roque’s tenure with “Blast!”, he performed as a trumpet soloist and musical conductor. A seasoned veteran in the marching arts activity, Roque performed with Tarheel Sun (Cary, NC) and the Blue Knights Drum and Bugle Corps (Denver, CO) where he was awarded the gold medal (2001) for the individual solo and ensemble championship on trumpet. Roque has composed and arranged for many K-12 programs, universities, and arts organizations. Roque is in the process of forming an international arts organization that is dedicated to making the arts a viable career choice whose mission is to provide consistent and sustainable employment to all diverse artists. Roque is excited to join the Minnesota Brass Organization.

Phil Snyder

A graduate of the University of Minnesota, where he studied music education, and the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, where he studied trumpet performance. Snyder currently is band director for the Waconia (Minn.,) School District, where he directs middle- and high-school ensembles. He is also an accomplished drill designer; bands that have performed Snyder’s designs have won 11 state championships and numerous sweepstakes awards. He has also been involved with drum and bugle corps for the past 17 years as a performer, instructor and designer for DCI World Class, DCI Open Class and DCA ensembles, most notably with Minnesota Brass and the Dubuque, Iowa-based Colts and Colt Cadets.

 

 

Paul Terry

Paul Terry joined the Minnesota Brass horn staff in 2007 and has helped lead the corps to three “high brass” awards – in its 2011 DCA Open Class World Championship season, as well as in 2010 and 2015. His drum-corps experience also includes performing with Minnesota Brass in 2005-06 and serving as a low-brass technician with the Colts in 2014-15. He also currently directs Maple Grove (Minn.) Senior High School’s Jazz 1 Band and Wind Ensemble and advises ISD 279’s Grove Area Percussion, the Class A state champion winter drumline. Terry also has taught the state-champion Anoka (Minn.) High School Marching Tornadoes and has served as trombone section coach for the Minnesota Music Educators Association’s All-State Jazz Band. He earned his bachelor’s degree in music education from the University of Minnesota and his master’s degree in music education from Boston University.

 

Minnesota Brass Announces 2018 Leadership Team

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The board of directors of Minnesota Brass Inc., a St. Paul-based performing-arts organization, has selected the organization’s senior leadership to maximize talent and better meet the needs of its flagship ensemble, Minnesota Brass Drum and Bugle Corps.

For the 2018 season, the executive team will comprise four leaders:

Todd Tanji, who previously served as chair of the Board of Directors, will become Executive Director, reporting to the Board of Directors. Tanji will take on the leadership of all artistic programs and supervise the artistic and educational staff for the drum corps.

Gavin Burnham will retain his long-standing role as President and CEO. In this capacity, Burnham oversees all aspects of the organization and manages key corporate responsibilities.

Eric Molho, who served as corps director and executive director from 2010 to 2016, will return in a leadership capacity as board chair. Molho will lead the Board of Directors in its responsibility for developing the organization’s strategy and achieving its mission.

Dave Whitaker will remain as Chief Financial Officer overseeing the day-to-day financial operations of the organization.

“Each executive team member has deep roots within Minnesota Brass,” Molho said. “We are confident the board has effectively matched the needs of the organization to our unique talents.”

Additional staff announcements will be shared in coming months.

Founded in 1946, Minnesota Brass holds several regional and national titles, including the 2011 Drum Corps Associates world championship. The corps launches its 72nd season in February 2018.

A Dream 13 Years in the Making

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Who says “13” can’t be a lucky number? That’s exactly how many years it took for MBI euphonium player Elkin Navarro to realize his dream of marching in a drum and bugle corps in the United States.

Navarro, 31, is a long-time band director from Bucaramanga, Colombia, located some 250 miles north of the capital city of Bogotá … and nearly 3,000 miles south of St. Paul. The city of around half a million hosts a large clothing industry as well as a growing technological research effort specializing in energy, gas, oil, asphalt, leather and agro-industrial development tools, among other concerns. Located in the Colombian Andes, it is also a popular destination for tourists.

After some 15 years of teaching band, Elkin said he thought he’d better get on with trying to fulfill his drum corps dream. Looking for online videos of U.S. marching bands in the pre-YouTube days was a daunting effort, but he eventually stumbled upon videos of DCI corps. And watching videos of the Cavaliers only fueled his desire to participate. His first visit to the United States came two years ago when he played mellophone with the Medellin Gran Banda on a Sound Sport tour. That was his first experience playing a horn in an ensemble, he says; previously he’d played timbales with Latin orchestras in his hometown.

Suspecting in April it was too late into the season to get a marching spot with a DCA corps, Elkin wrote to several corps seeking a volunteer position, “and Colts director Vicki (Schaffer MacFarlane) was the first to answer with the beautiful YES!” he recalled. While with the Colts, from June 13 through July 29, Elkin was part of the props crew. “Vicki talked to one of the MBI staff members about my situation, and here I am! Just a month before DCA finals – I still can’t believe it!”

Back home in Colombia, Elkin receives support from brother Christian and sister Nathalia, his parents (Fernando and Mildred), and his “beautiful and wonderful” daughter Mariana, who celebrated her sixth birthday on July 29, the same day he left the Colts in Atlanta for the Twin Cities. “That wasn’t easy,” he says.

Even though he’s getting to play for only part of this season with MBI, Elkin says he wouldn’t dismiss an opportunity to spend an entire summer with the corps.

So how might he parlay his drum corps experience when he gets back home?

“I think that I should help instructor friends, members and marching bands in my city when I go back to my country,” he said. “Being with Colts and Minnesota Brass has given me a lot of information and a wonderful experience that I would love to help people [have] who want to live the same adventure.”