ARCHIE AND THE ALL-STARS - Cornet prodigy, 7, records with celebrity ensemble

Issue 6048

GLIMMER OF HOPE - 'Possible' for small groups to rehearse, confirms BBE

THE WORK OF A HEAVYWEIGHT - Professor Stephen Allen lifts lid on Ralph Vaughan Williams

New era for US Open Championships

Monday 12 August, 2019

After 16 years the US Open Brass Band Championships is appointing an Executive Director, Dr. Lee Harrelson. In addition to being a Professor of Music at Missouri Western State University, Dr. Harrelson’s brass banding credentials include being the founder, Artistic Director and Solo Euphonium player of the internationally acclaimed Fountain City Brass Band. In partnership with his wife Helen, he is a founder and Executive Director of the Fountain City Youth Brass Academy and National Youth Brass Band of America.

Talking to British Bandsman, Lee Harrelson commented: “I attended the very first US Open as a spectator and was blown away by bands like Foden's and Brass Band of Central Florida. For the next 13 years I competed as a member of the Fountain City Brass Band and always loved the competition. The creativity required to excel in an entertainment format inspires and challenges bands and entertains audiences. Having known Clark Niermeyer, President of the US Open, for many years now I am humbled by their invitation to assume this formal position.

“My father and co-founder, Dallas Niermeyer and I have been discussing for a few years the future of brass banding and the Open with a goal of seeing both continue to evolve and grow towards realising the potential of both. We both have grown to have a deep respect for and friendship with Lee. His passion for the Open and banding as well as his accomplishments are impressive. We agreed that Lee would make a wonderful addition to the team.”

Lee added: “My vision for the US Open is that it will continue to become one of the finest brass band competitions in the world. This will be achieved by learning from successful similar format competitions such as England’s Brass in Concert and Norway’s SIDDIS Championships, as well as a team effort from the greater brass band community to inspire ideas for growth. I will certainly draw upon the successes that I have had through my work with Fountain City, but this is a separate venture. I value input from my colleagues around the United States and abroad and will call upon them to help mould the US Open in a productive and transparent manner. It will be an inclusive competition open to bands from anywhere in the world and of any performing ability. First and foremost, bands deserve to perform in a venue that is representative of the hard work and dedication they have put forth in their preparations. To insure this happens immediately we will host the competition in the Kansas City area. In addition to its vibrant arts scene, Kansas City has countless hotels and restaurants, as well as a community that will welcome the US Open Brass Band Championships.”

He concluded: “The Niermeyer family gave us a gift in the founding of the US Open Brass Band Championships and for this we should all be forever thankful. It takes a lot of courage to entrust someone else with something that you created and dedicated so much of your life to. I have an incredible support group around me and am honoured to have been chosen to lead the competition into its next act.”

The 2019 US Open Brass Band Championships take place on Saturday 9 November, and registration is now open at

If you would like more information please call Lee Harrelson on (001) 816 305 4894, or email