Brass Band of the Western Reserve Spend an Afternoon at the Movies

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Two people in the world can properly wear a bow tie: James Bond, agent of the British Secret Service, and Keith Wilkinson, music director of the Brass Band of the Western Reserve.

Both will be present at 2:30 p.m. Sunday in the Amphitheater as the Brass Band performs the much- anticipated “An Afternoon at the Movies.”

Hence, the James Bond. But weather forgiving, Wilkinson will be dressed to the nines with a finely tied ribbon around his collar.

If not, don’t be fooled by the band’s preference for a “slightly more informal look,” Wilkinson said, as they are partial to wearing red polo shirts at outdoor settings. Bow ties aside, Wilkinson and the band nonetheless strive for premiere quality when it comes to instrumentation.

“We’re not the sort of local community band, dare I say it, that is content with mediocrity,” Wilkinson said. “The players we attract to the band are all good players. We aim for highest of standards.”

Wilkinson, a native of Great Britain and former mathematics professor, always had a musical inkling, remembering himself as an 8-year-old picking up his first brass instrument.

“Mostly, music was a hobby,” Wilkinson said. “But I have to say that it overrode the mathematics some of the time. And the passion, if you like, what really excited me, was making that music.”

Since it was established in the fall of 1997, the Brass Band of the Western Reserve has continued to bring audiences their infectious enthusiasm and dynamic presentations.

Keeping east of the Mississippi, the Brass Band has performed in such esteemed venues as Hoover Auditorium, the Medina Performing Arts Center, and of course, the Amphitheater; its first appearance was back in 2004. 

“We’ve always found that our audiences at Chautauqua have loved the music that we performed,” Wilkinson said. “I try not to be too formal, too educational. I try to be somewhat relaxed and keep the evening flowing along.”

The band’s last concert in Chautauqua was in 2014, titled “From Sea to Shining Sea,” the leitmotif being Americana. Taking into consideration the prior weekend of the Fourth of July, Deborah Sunya Moore, vice president and director of programming, and Wilkinson agreed that the “broad spectrum” that the film scores provide would be generally more appropriate and less redundant.

“Though we do go further afield, of course,” Wilkinson said. “The Amphitheater, we feel, responds well to the sound of the band, and we just love playing there. We love the reactions we get from the audience as well. It’s usually a highlight of our season.”

Joshua Gurian

The author Joshua Gurian

Joshua Gurian is a graduate of Binghamton University Class of 2015, with a Bachelor of Arts in English literature. He currently lives as a freelance writer in Chicago.