Low Brass Festival

Monday, January 15, 2018

The Wright State University School of Music Low Brass Studios under the leadership of Dr. Gretchen McNamara and Mr. Steve Darling are excited to be hosting another festival for low brass musicians from our region again this year. Each January we bring to you world-renowned guest artists and clinicians for a day of music making, master classes and performances. We are excited to announce the 2018 Low Brass Festival Guest Artists will include Tim Buzbee, Principal Tuba - Louisville Orchestra and members of Quaternity: Donna Parkes, Principal Trombone - Louisville Orchestra,   J. Bryan Heath, Bass Trombone - Louisville Orchestra; and Lee Blakeman, Principal Trombone Evansville Symphony Orchestra, Instructor of Trombone, Western Kentucky University. The day will also include industry vendors on-site with instruments to try and supplies to purchase. The festival is open to high school and college students, amateurs and professionals.  Advanced middle school students are welcome to participate as well.
This year’s Low Brass Festival will also be host to a performance solo competition in one division for collegiate students up to age 25. Competition rules, registration, and fees are described in the tabs below. Click for more information.  
Registration Fees:  $15 - Festival attendance only
$25 - Solo Competition Entry Fee, includes festival registration

HOSTS: Gretchen McNamara (trombone) and Steve Darling (tuba & euphonium)

Guest Artists & Clinicians

Steve Darling - Tuba/Euphonium

Applied Tuba & Euphonium

Steven Darling, Adjunct Professor of Tuba & Euphonium, instructs tuba and euphonium lessons, studio class, tuba-euphonium pedagogy/literature, and directs the Wright State University Tuba-Euphonium Ensemble. Prior to joining the faculty at Wright State University, Mr. Darling was an Adjunct Professor of Low Brass at Murray State University and a Sabbatical Substitute of Tuba and Euphonium at Ohio University.

Mr. Darling has achieved success in regional and international competitions having received 1st in the 2017 Tuesday Musical Brass Competition, was a semi-finalist in the 2017 Falcone International Euphonium-Tuba Festival Tuba Artist Competition, was a semi-finalist at the 2016 International Tuba-Euphonium Association Conference Chamber Competition, 1st in the 2016 CCM Ernest N. Glover Brass Choir Concerto Competition, 2nd at the 2016 Music Teachers National Association Regional Brass Solo Competition, 1st at the 2015 Music Teachers National Association Brass Solo Competition of Ohio, 1st in the 2015 Ohio University Concerto Competition, 1st in the 2015 Southeast Regional Tuba-Euphonium Conference Euphonium Artist Competition, 1st in the 2015 Northeast Regional Tuba-Euphonium Euphonium Artist Competition, and 2nd at the 2014 International Tuba-Euphonium Conference Euphonium Artist Competition.

Steven is in demand as a soloist, having appeared with the Ohio University Wind Symphony, CCM Ernest N. Glover Brass Choir, Sheboygan Pops-Concert Band of Wisconsin, and the University Youth Wind Ensemble of Wisconsin. Mr. Darling has appeared as a guest artist and lecturer at local and international conferences including the 2017 Northwest Regional Tuba-Euphonium Conference, 2017 Great Plains Regional Tuba-Euphonium Conference, 2016 International Tuba-Euphonium Conference, 2016 Kentucky Music Educators Association Conference, 2015 Southeast Regional Tuba-Euphonium Conference, and 2014 Midwest Trombone-Euphonium Conference.

An advocate of new music, Steven has premiered works throughout the United States by award winning composers Ellen Ruth Harrison, Benjamin McMillan, Lawton Hall, Ian Lester, Dr. Richard Wetzel, Dr. Elaine Ross, Dr. Andy Francis, and Sy Brandon. Recently, Steven received a series of grants including the 2016 Co-Op Press Recording Assistance Grant and the 2017 CCM POWER Innovation Award, which will be used to fund his debut album Dualities published by Emeritus Recording.

As a composer, Steven’s works have been performed at conferences throughout the United States including the 2017 Army Band Tuba-Euphonium Workshop, 2017 Great Plains Regional Tuba-Euphonium Conference, the 2017 International Euphonium-Tuba Festival, 2016 International Tuba-Euphonium Conference, 2015 Midwest Regional Tuba-Euphonium Conference, 2015 Southeast Regional Tuba-Euphonium Conference, and 2014 International Tuba-Euphonium Conference. In 2015 Steven’s work Til’ Human Voices Wake Us for Pierrot Ensemble was selected as a finalist in the Seattle Chamber Orchestra Composition Competition. Mr. Darling’s arrangements, transcriptions, and original compositions have received publication from Cimarron Press, Potenza Inc., and Cherry Classics Publishing.

Steven is the first-ever Pedagogy Video Librarian for ITEAONLINE.org, the official website of the International Tuba-Euphonium Association. In this capacity Mr. Darling works with leading performers and educators of the tuba-euphonium community to create pedagogical videos for ITEAONLINE.org. Prior to this position, Steven was the first-ever Pedagogy Resource Librarian, working with publishers to procure examples of pedagogical materials. In addition to his work for ITEAONLINE.org, Mr. Darling is a reviewer of new materials for the International Tuba-Euphonium Association Journal, having received publication in both the ITEA hardcopy and e-journals. In 2015 Steven’s article “How to Prepare the High School Euphoniumist” was published in TRIAD, the official journal of the Ohio Music Educators Association.

Currently Mr. Darling is a D.M.A. Candidate of Tuba and Euphonium at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. Steven received a B.F.A. in Music from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and a M.M. in Euphonium Performance/Brass Pedagogy from Ohio University. Mr. Darling has primarily studied with Timothy Northcut, Dr. Jason Smith, and Marty Erickson.

Steven Darling's website

Gretchen McNamara – Trombone

Applied Trombone
Director of the University Trombone Ensemble

mcnamara-small.jpgDr. Gretchen McNamara is the trombone instructor at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio, a position she has held since 2007. In addition to her responsibilities with the trombone studio, she also teaches Instrumental Music Education and supervises Field Placements. Dr. McNamara has presented clinics (2012, 2013, 2015) and performed as a member of the Wright State University Faculty Brass Quintet (2009) and Wright State University Chamber Orchestra (2012) at the Ohio Music Educator's Association State Conference. She has been a featured artist/clinician at the International Trombone Festival (2014); Midwest Trombone and Euphonium Conference, Charleston, IL (2014); Big 12 Trombone Conference, Lubbock, Texas (2013); and artist in residence at the BrassChix Festival at the University of St. Thomas (2010, 2011). Recently, she has served as the guest conductor of the OMEA District 12 Honor Middle School Jazz Ensemble (2016), OMEA District 14 Honor Middle School Jazz Ensemble (2015), OMEA District 12 Honor Symphonic Band (2014), and has served as an invited guest clinician/adjudicator for the Weekend of Jazz in Beavercreek, Ohio (2014). Dr. McNamara has also been a featured soloist with the Wright State Universtiy Wind Ensemble, Kettering (Ohio) Civic Band, Wright State University Symphonic Band, Xavier University’s Symphonic Winds (Ohio) and the Shoreline Concert Band (Washington). She has also performed with the Middletown Sympohny Orchestra (OH), Lima Symphony Orchestra (OH) and the Newark-Granville Symphony Orchestra (OH).  

Outside of her position at Wright State University, Dr. McNamara serves on the Dayton Philharmonic Education Committee and writes CD Recording Reviews for the International Trombone Association. She also maintains a private trombone studio with students from the greater Dayton area. Dr. McNamara has served on the faculty of Xavier University and the University of Cincinnati, College-Conservatory of Music Preparatory Department. 

A native of Seattle, Washington Dr. McNamara has earned a Doctor of Musical Arts Degree from the University of Cincinnati, College-Conservatory of Music, a Master of Music degree from Kent State University, and a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Washington. Before beginning the DMA, Dr. McNamara was the director of bands at Patapsco High School and Center for the Arts in Baltimore, Maryland. Her principle instructors include David Vining, JoDee Davis, Mathew Guilford and Stuart Dempster.

Gretchen McNamara's website

Tim Buzbee - Tuba

Tim Buzbee "is a fine musician who can make his tuba variously sing like a violin and bark like an angered dog, and touch all those bases in between. His sense of phrasing is as astonishing as his sense of his instrument's tone coloring" raved Fanfare Magazine about Tim's debut solo cd, BUZZED. In 2011, Tim joined the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra as principal tuba. Besides the Melbourne Symphony Tim has held the same position with many orchestras including Iceland Symphony, Malmo Symphony, Galve Symphony, Singapore Symphony, Civic Orchestra of Chicago, and the Acapulco Philharmonic. Tim has won jobs in 8 different countries! Buzbee has been invited to perform as guest tubist with many other orchestras including the Chicago Symphony, Danish Radio Orchestra, Swedish Radio Orchestra, Sydney Symphony, Hong Kong Philharmonic, Western Australia Symphony Orchestra, Dallas Wind Symphony, Malaysia Philharmonic and the Helsingborg Symphony among others. 
As a soloist he has performed concerts and masterclasses around the world including the most prestigious universities and conservatories. Currently Tim has three solo cds on the Albany Record label including “Raw Emotions”, consisting of 4 concertos from North America with the Iceland Symphony Orchestra. Buzbee also recorded a cd entitled Eruptions, consisting of standard excerpts for low brass section for the Albany Record label. He has been soloist with the Melbourne Symphony, Iceland Symphony, Singapore Symphony, Acapulco Symphony, Marshall Symphony, and the "Pershing Own" Army Band in Washington D.C. Buzbee recently was asked to be a featured artist at the Texas Music Association Conference in San Antonio, Texas. Buzbee was also recently featured on the front cover of the International Tuba Euphonium Association Journal, and has been featured in several other magazines in the past. Tim is on faculty at Australia National Academy of Music and The University of Melbourne. 
Buzbee knows he would probably be flipping burgers if not for the help of teachers Ed Jones, Gene Pokorny, and Matt Good. Tim enjoys spending any free time with his wife Jessica, and their five kids, and the two family dogs which thinks they are children number 6 and 7!!!

Quaternity Trombones

Australian trombonist Donna Parkes is Principal Trombone of the Louisville Orchestra.  She served as the Acting Associate Principal Trombone with the Utah Symphony Orchestra during the 2012-2013 season.  Prior to joining the Louisville Orchestra in 2008, Miss Parkes held positions with the San Francisco Symphony 2007-2008 and Virginia Symphony 2001-2007. During the summer season she plays Principal Trombone with the Colorado Music Festival and is an active chamber musician, recitalist and educator.



J. Bryan Heath, a native of Slaughters, KY, is currently the Bass Trombonist of the Owensboro Symphony, the Illinois Symphony, and Orchestra Kentucky of Bowling Green.  He is now a Doctoral Candidate in Trombone Performance at Indiana University.  Bryan’s principal teachers include Raymond L. Conklin, M. Dee Stewart, and Arnold Jacobs.  An active teacher, he served as Adjunct Trombone Faculty at Indiana State University from 2006-2009, and Murray State University in the spring of 2012.  As a freelance artist Bryan has performed with the Chicago, Nashville, Alabama, and New Mexico Symphonies.  Having grown up on a horse farm in rural Kentucky, Bryan enjoys reaching back to his roots by serving as the lead singer, guitarist, and yodeler in the traditional Cowboy Band Suede Saddle.




Lee K. Blakeman is Principal Trombone of the Evansville (IN) Symphony Orchestra and Orchestra Kentucky of Bowling Green, Second/Assistant Principal Trombone of the Owensboro (KY) Symphony Orchestra, Adjunct Instructor of Trombone at Western Kentucky University, and maintains a private studio. Mr. Blakeman’s Professional Warm-Up & Maintenance Book concisely covers  fundamental aspects of playing trombone that first warms-up the embouchure and then transitions into maintenance of necessary skills to successfully prepare solo, band and orchestral literature.  

Schedule of Events

Low Brass Festival Tentative Schedule

8:00 am – 10:00 am         Solo Competition Rehearsals (Finalists Only- as needed)

                                           Vendor Set-up

                                           Festival Registration Open


10:00 am                          Solo Competition Finals (Schuster Hall)

                                           Trombone Warm-up Master Class -  CAC 190

                                           Tuba/Euphonium Warm- up Master Class – CAC 180

                                           Vendors Open


11:00 am                            Solo Competition Finals (Schuster Hall)

                                           Festival Ensemble Rehearsals

                                               Trombone (CAC 190)

                                               Tuba (CAC 180)

                                           Vendors Open


12:00                                  Vendors/Lunch


1:00                                    Guest Artist Solo/Chamber recital (Schuster Hall)

                                           Vendors Open


2:30                                    Recital: Solo Competition Winners, WSU Studio Ensembles, Festival Ensembles (Schuster Hall)

                                           Vendors Open

4:15                                    Guest Artist Clinics

                                           CAC 104, 190, 180, Recital Hall

                                           Topics to be Announced

                                           Vendors close


5:30                                    Low Brass Festival Concludes


Additional vendors to be announced.

Solo Competition Information


Preliminary Round (Recorded): Submitted electronically by Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Notification of Finalists: Monday, December 4, 2017

Deadline to request an accompanist for the finals round: Friday, December 8, 2017

Final Round (Live): January 15, 2018, 10:00 am

Congratulations to the following people who were selected as finalists for the 2018 Wright State University Low Brass Festival Solo Competition.

Juan Alonso (Tuba, CCM)
Thomas Cavender (Trombone, Marshall University)
Nolan Derrick (Tuba, CCM)
Brett Galey (Trombone, CCM)
Connor Howard (Trombone, CCM)
Santiago Lopez (Tuba, Rose-Hulman Institute)
Benjamin Malmer (Tuba, CCM)
Adam McCoy (Trombone, Wright State University)
Ben Thompson (Euphonium, University of Northern Alabama)
Patrick Young (Tuba, University of Colorado at Boulder)

Thank you to our preliminary round judges: Vince Kenney, Preston Light, and Jessie Orth

1st Place: $200 Check award and $50 gift card sponsored by Buddy Rogers Music
2nd Place: $100 Cash Prize sponsored by McCutcheon Music and $25 gift card sponsored by Buddy Rogers Music
3rd Place: $50 Gift Card sponsored by McCutcheon Music

The first, second, and third place competition winners will perform on a Recital later the same afternoon (January 15, 2018) at Wright State University’s Low Brass Festival

Entry Fee:  $25  

Entry fee payment is online and can be made by using: 

  • Mastercard 
  • Visa 
  • Discover 
  • webCheck 
Competition Eligibility and Repertoire: 

The WSU Low Brass Festival Solo Competition will be in ONE DIVISION and is open to university students regardless of degree program up to age 25 (born after January 15, 1993)

All competitors must record one of the following selections:

  • Tenor Trombone: Andante et Allegro - J. E. Barat  OR 'Morceau Symphonique - Alexandre Guilmant
  • Bass Trombone: Worlds Apart - Frank Gulino OR Concerto in One Movement - Alexej Lebedev
  • Euphonium: Morceau de Concours - J. E. Barat OR Rhapsody' by James Curnow
  • Tuba: Andante and Rondo – Capuzzi OR Capriccio - Rodney Newton 

The preliminary round MUST be performed with piano accompaniment.

The finals round will take place at the WSU Low Brass Festival on January 15, 2018.

All applicants must be available to perform at the live finals round.

TEN Finalists will be selected to perform in the finals round on January 15, 2018. 

The Finals round MUST be performed live with piano accompaniment. 

Finalists are strongly encouraged to bring their own accompanist. If needed a staff accompanist will be provided for $30. Rehearsals with accompanists (if needed) will be scheduled for the morning of January 15, 2018. 

Finalists: Please inform Dr. McNamara (gretchen.mcnamara@wright.edu) by December 15th if you will need an accompanist provided or if you will be bringing your own. 

The first, second, and third place competition winners will perform on a recital later the same afternoon (January 15, 2018) at Wright State University’s Low Brass Festival.

Submitting your recording: 

Recordings must be submitted electronically by Wednesday, November 8, 2017.

No recording will be considered without submission of the application fee. 

All submissions should be in MP3 format. 

*** Please include with your recording the following information: 

  • Name 
  • Address 
  • Phone Number 
  • Email address 
  • School 
  • Year in School 

Recordings MUST be submitted to: