The Von Braun Suite (2019)

Brass Band of Huntsville (BBoH), a rising “Musical Star of Alabama”
Commissions “The Von Braun Suite”

The Brass Band of Huntsville commissioned internationally-acclaimed, retired President’s Own Marine Band staff composer/arranger, Stephen Bulla, to compose “The Von Braun Suite” to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of Man’s lunar landing during the Apollo 11 mission and to honor the vital role that Huntsville and the Marshall Space Flight Center played in that historic journey.

Stephen Bulla travelled to Huntsville in March 2018 to conduct research in support of developing this composition. Inspiration came from viewing Huntsville and the Tennessee Valley from Monte Sano, visiting the house where Dr. Wernher von Braun and his family lived while in Huntsville, receiving a VIP tour of the Marshall Space Flight Center with one of BBoH’s own trombone players and real rocket scientist and historian, Mark Fisher.

Stephen Bulla then visited the U.S. Space and Rocket Center and the Davidson Center for Space Exploration, where he got up close and personal with the Saturn V rocket and the systems designed to land man on the moon during Apollo 11. However, one of the most serendipitous moments for his inspiration was when he got to meet two of Dr. von Braun’s children, Margrit and Peter von Braun, who happened to be there attending a birthday celebration for Dr. von Braun.

Stephen Bulla returned to Huntsville in September 2018 to conduct the initial rehearsal of “The Von Braun Suite” with the Brass Band of Huntsville. The composition consists of four major movements, each depicting major events in Dr. von Braun’s life that lead to man’s lunar landing during the Apollo 11 mission. Following is a description of the narrative for each movement.



  • Movement 1: “Operation Paper Clip” – This movement represents Dr. Wernher von Braun’s original rocket team brought from Germany to the United States under Operation Paper Clip near the end of WWII. Von Braun’s journey to escape Nazi atrocities, lead to a new home in West Texas at the White Sands Proving Grounds. This kept Von Braun’s dream alive to pursue his vision of building rockets for space flight and exploration.
  • Movement 2: “The Rocket City” – This movement represents a tribute to Huntsville, as the Von Braun team is moved from Fort Bliss to Alabama as part of the U.S. Army Ballistic Missile Agency at Redstone Arsenal. Dr. Von Braun immediately fell in love with the Tennessee Valley as it reminded him of the landscape from his original home. His team flourished and continued to advance the state of the art in rocketry and lead the nation in the development of engineering marvels for space flight technology. This culminates in the first US satellite, Explorer I, being launched on a modified Redstone rocket, which was designed and built at Redstone Arsenal. Coming on the heels of Sputnik, this was the opening salvo in the “Space Race” with the Soviet Union.
  • Movement 3: “Saturn V” – This movement represents Von Braun and his team transitioning to NASA in 1960. He became the first Director of the Marshall Space Flight Center and was charged with developing the new rockets that would enable the U.S. to begin exploring space. Von Braun would lead the development of the Saturn V, the rocket which could carry the U.S. to the moon. The Saturn V would be the largest rocket ever built and was the culmination of Von Braun’s dream of building spaceships. He was now in the right place at the right time with the right stuff to pursue his dream of space flight and his vision for space exploration.
  • Movement 4: “One Small Step” – This movement represents the triumph of Von Braun and our national quest to go to the moon. After several test flights, the team supports the launch of Apollo 11 with the Saturn V rocket on July 16, 1969. The launch of the Marshall-developed Saturn V was flawless and allowed for the successful landing of the lunar module, Eagle, in the Sea of Tranquility on July 20, 1969 with the immortal words of “Houston, Tranquility Base. The Eagle has landed”. This was followed with Commander Neil Armstrong’s immortal words of “That’s one small step for a man. One giant leap for mankind” as he descended onto the surface of the moon. The safe return of the Apollo 11 mission crew occurred eight years after President John Kennedy (1917-63) announced a national goal of landing a man on the moon by the end of the 1960s. All of this from the vision and dream of Dr. Wernher von Braun.

Stephen Bulla (center) with Dr. Werner Von Braun’s son, Peter Von Braun and daughter, Marguerite Von Braun



World Premiere Performance – July 16, 2019

The Brass Band of Huntsville will perform the world premiere of “The Von Braun Suite”, along with commissioned arrangements celebrating Alabama’s Bicentennial, as featured entertainment during the Apollo 11 Homecoming Celebration Dinner & Program to be held beneath the Saturn V rocket in the Davidson Center for Space Exploration at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center on July 16, 2019 (

Sponsorships and Support

“The Von Braun Suite” commission was made possible through the generosity of principal sponsor Radiance Technologies, Inc., and support in part by the Huntsville Arts & Cultural Grant Fund, a program of the City of Huntsville and Arts Huntsville and the Huntsville Chamber Music Guild in memory of former Board Member Dr. Charles Lundquist. The July 16th world premiere performance is sponsored in part by Torch Technologies.






2018-2019 Concert Season

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“Rockets and Romance” – Celebrating Alabama’s Bicentennial

Sunday, March 3, 2019, 3:00 pm – Covenant Presbyterian Church, Huntsville, Alabama

“Southeastern Brass Band Festival”

Saturday, May 11, 2019, 1:00 pm, Marietta, GA

“Fly Me to the Moon” – Music played among the stars!

Tuesday, May 21, 2019, 7:00 pm, Huntsville High School Auditorium

“One Small Step” – World premiere of “The Von Braun Suite” as part of the 

50th Anniversary Celebration of Man’s Lunar Landing on Apollo 11

Tuesday, July 16, 2019, 7:00 pm, Davidson Center for Space Exploration

U.S. Space and Rocket Center


Thanks to everyone who enjoyed “The Best Christmas Brass EVER!”

Thank You to everyone who came out for our Veterans Day Concert

“Walking With Heroes”

3pm on Sunday, November 11, 2018 –

Covenant Presbyterian Church, 301 Drake Ave, Huntsville, Alabama

           Many Thanks to “The Blake Family” Our Concert Sponsor for
“Walking With Heroes”


Hops and Pops

Craft Brews and Octoberfest Fun

7:00pm, Thursday, October 26, 2017 at Yellowhammer Brewery – Campus 805, Huntsville, AL

A Night at the Opera

Audience Favorites – Brass Band Style
7:00pm, Tuesday, November 7, 2017 at THe Gathering Place at First Baptist Church, 600 Governors Drive, Huntsville, AL

Comfort and Joy

Glad Tidings for the Christmas Season
7:00pm, Monday, December 11, 2017 at First Baptist Church in Decatur, AL
7:00pm, Monday, December 18, 2017 at Covenant Presbyterian Church, Huntsville, AL

Brass Equinox

Fresh tunes for early spring 7:00pm, Monday, March 22, 2018 in the Thurber Arts Center Auditorium at Randolph High School  Huntsville, AL

Epic Movie Themes

An Evening of entertaining and familiar movie music performed with the sound power and passion of Alabama’s Own, the Brass Band of Huntsville – the only traditional  British style brass band in the State of Alabama, the Brass Band of Huntsville is proud to be referred to as a “musical Star of Alabama”.    Come hear the band!

7:00pm, Tuesday, May 22, 2018 at Randolph School in the Thurber Arts Center Auditorium, Huntsville, AL

2016-2017 Concert Season

Hops and Pops

Roll out the Brass Band, Let’s have a Barrel of Fun
7:00pm, Thursday, October 27, 2016 at Yellowhammer Brewery – Campus 805

Brass Triumphant

Music inspired by Military and Everyday Heroes
7:00pm, Thursday, November 3, 2016 at First Baptist Church

Oh, By Golly… Have a Holly Jolly Christmas

Have a Holly Jolly Christmas with the Brass Band of Huntsville
7:00pm, Monday, December 12, 2016 at Covenant Presbyterian Church

Let Me Call You Sweetheart

Romance and Love Songs – Brass Band Style
7:00pm, Thursday, February 9, 2017 at Straight to Ale – Campus 805
7:00pm, Monday, February 13, 2017 at First Baptist Church in Decatur

Brass Band On Tour

Featuring special guests Georgia Brass Band
3:00pm, Saturday, April 22, 2017 at Randolph School (Garth Rd)

Proud to be an American

For Spacious Skies and Amber Waves of Grain
7:00pm, Tuesday, May 23, 2017 at Huntsville High School Auditorium

2015-2016 Concert Season

Heroes and Villains


Music from our favorite action movies like Superman and Batman as well as Saving Private Ryan and other patriotic films.
7:00pm, Thursday, November 5, 2015 at Huntsville High School Auditorium

‘Tis the Season to be Jolly


Holiday music including “Frosty The Snowman”, “You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch”, “The 12 Days of Christmas” and Leroy Anderson’s classic “Sleigh Ride”
7:00pm, Monday, December 14, 2015 at Covenant Presbyterian Church

NABBA Competition Preview

BBoH prepares to return to North American Brass Band Association Championship Competition (weekend of April 1st) with another lineup of challenging pieces
March 18, 2016, 7:00pm at Huntsville High School.


Brass Salvation

Sacred brass music selections featuring Abide with Me, Simple Gifts, Homage (van de Roost), Voluntary on Old 100th, American Trilogy and others.
7:00pm, May 24, 2016 at First Baptist Church (Governor’s Drive)


2014-2015 Concert Season


A challenging set of genuine British Brass Band Music
7:00pm, November 6, 2014 at Huntsville High School Auditorium

Annual Holiday Concert TBA

Holiday tunes
7:00pm, December 15, 2014 at Covenant Presbyterian

Winter’s End “Pre-Competition” Concert

BBoH prepares to return to North American Brass Band Association Championship Competition (March 14) with another lineup of challenging pieces
3:00pm, March 8, 2015 Huntsville High School Auditorium

Spring Concert

With BBoH and Special Guest Soloist Ken Watters.
7:00pm, May 28, 2015 at Huntsville High School Auditorium

Blue Pants and Brass

Bring on Summer with BBoH and Special Guest Soloist Ken Watters.
7:00pm, June 6, 2015 at Blue Pants Brewery and Tap Room, Madison, AL

December 16, 2013: Joyful and Triumphant

Adeste Fidelis Dec 16 2013

  • The Star-Spangled Banner (Francis Scott Key, Arr. Les Susi)
  • Festive Variations on Adeste Fidelis (Darrol Barry)
  • Ding Dong, Merrily on High (Arr. Roy Newsome)
  • Ukranian Bell Carol (Mykola Dmytrovich Leontovych, Arr. Philip Sparke)
  • Little Drummer Boy (Simeone, Onorati and Dave, Arr. Philip Sparke)
  • A Christmas Suite (Stephen Bulla)
    • 1. Wassail Song
    • 2. Lo, How a Rose E’re Blooming
    • 3. Pot-Pourri
  • Veni Immanuel (Medieval French Antiphon, Arr. Philip Sparke)
  • Santaclaustrophobia (Sandy Smith)
  • March of the Toys (Victor Herbert, Arr. Ronald Hanmer)
  • Christmas Song (Mel Torme, Arr. Butch Evans, Transcribed by Eddie Elsey) 
    Billy Bargetzi – Solo Trombone
  • Russian Christmas Music (Alfred Reed, Arr. Bruce Fraser)
  • Sleigh Ride (Leroy Anderson, Arr. Ernest Tomlinson)

See the entire 2013-2014 Season’s Concert lineup here.