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 (https://www.rocketcenter.com/calendar/2019-07-16/apollo-11-homecoming-celebration-dinner-program).

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

“Walking With Heroes”  – Veterans Day Concert

Sunday, November 11, 2018, 3:00 pm – Covenant Presbyterian Church, Huntsville, AL

“The Best Christmas Brass Ever!” – Holiday favorites for the entire family

Monday, December 10, 2018, 7:00 pm – First Baptist Church, Decatur, Alabama

Monday, December 17, 2018, 7:00 pm – Covenant Presbyterian Church, Huntsville, Alabama

“Rockets and Romance” – Celebrating Alabama’s Bicentennial

Thursday, March 14, 2019, 7:00 pm – Huntsville High School Auditorium

“Georgia Brass Band Festival”

Saturday, May 11, 2019, Time TBA, Kennesaw State University, Marietta, GA

“Fly Me to the Moon” – Music of Space Exploration & Stellar Fantasy

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

 

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

Southern Brass Salvation

Join us Tuesday, May 24, at The Gathering Place in First Baptist Church on Governors Drive, at 7 PM for our next concert. The classic tunes of Amazing Grace, Abide with Me, and When the Saints Go Marching In will be performed as well as some of James Curnow’s compositions of spirituals and psalms and a Prayer of Thanksgiving by Huntsvillian Timothy Smith.

SouthernBrassSalvationWEBb

2014-2015 Concert Season

Horizons

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

2013-2014 Concert Season

Blue Pants and Brass

Featuring unreasonably good beer and British Brass Band Music
7:00pm, October 8, 2013 at Blue Pants Brewery & Tap Room, Madison, AL
Place your Butts for Brass orders at the concert for pickup on Saturday, Nov 2!

Holiday Cheer and Unreasonably Good Beer

Traditional holiday tunes
7:00pm, December 5th at Blue Pants Brewery & Tap Room, Madison, AL (inside the brewing area)

Joyful and Triumphant

Adeste Fidelis with the Brass Band of Huntsville
7:00pm, December 16, 2013 at Covenant Presbyterian Church

Fat Tuesday Brass

BBoH celebrates Mardi Gras.
7:00pm, March 4, 2013 at Flying Monkey Arts Theatre at Lowe Mill

Nostalgia

A sentimental journey with BBoH and Special Guest Soloist Ken Watters.
7:00pm, May 20, 2013 at Huntsville High School Auditorium

2012-2013 Concert Season

The Brass Band of Huntsville is excited to announce this year’s exciting lineup of concerts!

New for the 2012-2013 season: Each concert will include a “Brass-Band-ology” segment featuring a piece from standard, traditional brass band literature introduced by the conductor to give the audience a broader understanding and appreciation of American/British brass bands.

Big Swinging Brass Band

Music from America’s Greatest Generation with guest soloist, Ken Watters
Tuesday, October 30 at Huntsville High School Auditorium, 7:00pm

Do You Hear What I Hear?

BBoH in Concert with Huntsville Community Children’s Chorale
Tuesday, December 11, 2012 at Trinity United Methodist Church, 7:00pm

Christmas Brasstacular

Monday, December 17, 2012 at Huntsville High School Auditorium, 7:00pm

March Madness

Thursday, March 21, 2013 at Huntsville High School Auditorium, 7:00pm

Cinemagic

Selections from the stage and the big screen
Tuesday, May 21, 2013 at Huntsville High School Auditorium, 7:30pm

2011-2012 Concert Season

The Brass Band of Huntsville is excited to announce the great lineup of concerts for this 2011-2012 Season:

Adventures in Brass

Adventurous tunes from around the world
November 3, 2011 at Huntsville High School Auditorium, 7:30pm

Brass Garlands

Musical decorations for the holiday season
December 20, 2011 at Huntsville High School Auditorium, 7:30pm

Celtic Brilliance

A musical journey ‘across the pond’
March 20, 2012 at Grissom High School Auditorium, 7:30pm

How the Brass Was Won

Music inspired by the Great American West
May 17, 2012 at Huntsville High School Auditorium, 7:30pm