In April 2023, the Crossroads Brass Band resurrected a cherished tradition that had been temporarily halted due to the challenges posed by COVID in 2020. The band made a triumphant return to the North American Brass Band Association Festival, honoring the legacy of its founder, Donald Bookout, who had been a passionate advocate for the festival and even served on the NABBA board of directors yet had to step down from involvement with the band due to health concerns. Despite the initial hiatus, the 34-member strong ensemble embarked on a six-hour journey to Huntsville, Alabama, driven by the desire to uphold Bookout’s substantial legacy.
Months of rigorous preparation and rehearsal venue changes preceded the band’s primary goal – to clinch victory in the 3rd Section. The performance, hailed as the band’s best to date by many, including director Jon Noworyta, showcased their musical prowess. A notable highlight was the world premiere of “Rise Again,” a piece composed by the band’s own Trent Taylor. The excitement and anticipation of a top-three placement were palpable among the members, with hopes high for a significant achievement beyond their history of finishing last at NABBA.
However, the band faced disappointment as the results revealed yet another last-place finish in the third section. Despite initial confusion and frustration, the group rallied under the supportive words of the band’s president and principal euphonium, Sean Kissane, and director Noworyta. Kissane expressed deep gratitude for the band’s efforts and emphasized the importance of continuing Bookout’s legacy, even in the face of challenges.
As the summer unfolded, the band mourned the loss of Don Bookout, reinforcing their commitment to honoring his legacy, irrespective of the setbacks. Fast forward to the end of 2023 and the dawn of 2024, the Crossroads Brass Band received a notable invitation to perform at the Indiana Music Educators Association annual conference in Fort Wayne, Indiana – a significant recognition of their status as an esteemed local ensemble.
The logistical challenges leading up to the performance were noteworthy, as the band had only a few rehearsals to prepare post-Christmas break.
A fortuitous turn of events saw them taking the spot of a local high school due to performance cancellations caused by a snowstorm. Performing in the same venue as their NABBA appearance years ago, the band delivered an outstanding performance that garnered a standing ovation from the discerning audience of music educators.
From the powerful notes of “The Hammer of Asgard” to the grand finale of “Fire in the Blood,” the band’s performance was nothing short of stellar. The wounds elicited from the disappointing scores at NABBA 2023 have healed and the historic day at the Indiana Music Educators Association conference stands as a testament to the Crossroads Brass Band’s identity, resilience, and promising future.
As the dust settles, the band is actively planning a season with one or two performances per month, steadfast in its commitment to boldly represent the community. This pivotal moment in Crossroads Brass Band history serves as a beacon for the ensemble’s bright future, and one can’t help but feel the presence of Don Bookout smiling down upon them.