JMU Brass Band makes history with championship win


On April 6, 2024, the James Madison University Brass Band achieved a monumental milestone it its 24-year history by clinching the Championship Section title at the prestigious North American Brass Band Championships held in Huntsville, Alabama. Competing against seven other top-tier bands, the JMU Brass Band emerged victorious, marking the first time a collegiate band has claimed the highest division of the competition.

The band’s triumph was underscored by their performances of Oliver Waespi’s Other Lives and Paul Raphael’s Explorers on the Moon. This win adds to the band’s illustrious track record at NABBA, with 14 podium finishes overall. Notably, which includes 11 in the Championship Section and three first place finishes in the First Section and Open Section respectively.

Leading the charge was the band’s esteemed conductor, professor Kevin Stees, whose exceptional leadership propelled the JMU Brass Band to new heights of success. Stees also etched his name in NABBA history by becoming only the second conductor to secure victories in two sections of the competition in the same year. His other ensemble, the Massanutten Brass Band, triumphed in the Second Section, following in the footsteps of Paul Droste’s historic achievement in 1991.

Celebrating individual excellence alongside the band’s collective victory, several members of the JMU Brass Band showcased their exceptional talent in the NABBA Solo and Ensemble Competition, earning top accolades:

  • 1st Place in Percussion Ensemble: JMU Percussion Trio (Blaze Benavides, Olivia Miller, Jonathan Ramirez)
  • 1st Place in Cornet Slow Melody Solo: Logan Hayungs
  • 1st Place in Flugel/Tenor Horn Slow Melody Solo: Caroline Fauber
  • 2nd Place in Brass Ensemble: JMU Cornet Septet (Olivia Ellsworth, Logan Hayungs, Taylor Lowry, Max Parrish, Peyton Phaller, Steffi Tetzloff, Micah Wingfield)
  • 2nd Place in Trombone Slow Melody Solo: Shiv Love
  • 2nd Place in Baritone/Euphonium Slow Melody Solo: Jake Cuppernull
  • 2nd Place in Baritone/Euphonium Technical Solo: Andrew Ribo
  • 2nd Place in Tuba Technical Solo: Logan Davis
  • 2nd Place in Percussion Solo Solo: Jonathan Ramirez
  • 3rd Place in Percussion Solo Solo: Brian McDermott

For more information about the JMU Brass Band, please visit

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Published: Monday, April 15, 2024

Last Updated: Wednesday, April 17, 2024

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