Imperial Brass was founded in January, 1991 by Rutgers University alumni Steve Dillon and Jon Korsun with arranger Mark Freeh.
The all-brass British instrumentation affords a unique opportunity for musicians in the New Jersey area to play challenging literature. The band’s repertoire includes a wide range of styles: brass band classics, contemporary works, classical arrangements, music from Broadway, popular selections, and the opportunity to perform with world class soloists.
Rutgers Alumni Brass Band held its first concert in April, 1991 at Rutgers University in Voorhees Chapel. One year later in April 1992 the band performed in its first of five NY Brass Conference appearances and at Nicholas Music Center with the Childs Brothers and Derek and Philip Smith. In September of 1992 the band moved to the Imperial Music Center in South River, New Jersey. At that time the band adopted the name Imperial Brass and composer Brian Bowen became its conductor. Under Brian, the band won first place in the 1994 Northeastern Brass Band Competition held at West Point Military Academy.
In 1995, Patrick Burns became the conductor. The band won first place for the second time at the 1995 Northeastern Brass Band Competition, again held at West Point Military Academy. Continuing with Patrick Burns, Imperial Brass recorded its first CD, Imperial Brass Highlights.
Throughout the years featured guest artists have included Philip Smith – principal trumpet of the NY Philharmonic, Robert and Nicholas Childs, Andrew Berryman- principal trombone of the Halle Orchestra, Derek Garside, Derek Smith, Warren Vaché, Roger Webster, Chris Jaudes, David Nesbitt, Sharon Moe, Brett Baker and Joseph Alessi – principal trombone of the NY Philharmonic.
In 1999, the First Annual Montclair Brass Band Festival was inaugurated and continued each year for four years, being produced by Mark Freeh & Sam Bennett and hosted by Imperial Brass.
In September, 2001, Imperial Brass established the Philip Smith Scholarship Chair. Each year music students from major conservatories and music schools are invited to audition for this scholarship chair. This affords an opportunity for a gifted trumpet/cornet student to take the principal cornet position and to perform solos.
In 2002 Imperial Brass released its 2nd CD, Imperial Brass & Friends, featuring world renowned soloists, Philip Smith, Roger Webster, Warren Vaché and Chris Jaudes.
Recently Imperial Brass recorded its third CD, Bone-A-Fide Brass featuring Joseph Alessi, Principal Trombone of the New York Philharmonic. Bone-a-Fide Brass is on Summit Records and is available internationally.
In March 2005, Imperial Brass was featured at the Northeast Regional Tuba/Euphonium Conference with guest conductor Torgny Hanson and several guest artists held at Eisenhower Hall Theater, West Point Military Academy.
The summer of 2006 was a busy period for Imperial Brass with its guest appearance at the International Trumpet Guild Conference held at Rowan University and a performance before an enthusiastic crowd at The Pavilion, a performing arts center in Old Orchard Beach, Maine.
During the 2006-2007 season, Imperial Brass recorded a Christmas CD, Have Yourself a Brassy Little Christmas featuring Joseph Alessi, Warren Vaché, and Broadway singer Laura Schutter. We also had the honor of performing at the Great Auditorium in Ocean Grove, NJ on July 4th in collaboration with organist Gordon Turk to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Auditorium’s world-famous organ.