January 11, 2011 5:43 AM
Alicia Duplessis Jasmin
The Tulane University Marching Band program has debuted a seersucker-wearing brass ensemble — the Green Wave Brass Band. And the band is making a name for itself on and off campus by playing at parties and other events.
“I hadn’t experienced brass bands before I came to New Orleans,” says Brian Geiger, a Tulane junior from Charlotte, N.C. “I’d say we’re a work in progress, but our repertoire is growing and the locals seem to like us.”
Forming a brass band was the visionary idea of assistant band director Mark Lighthiser. He first organized the troupe in fall 2009. Lighthiser works with band members on arrangements for songs but he hopes that they will soon learn to improvise without that structure.
“Brass bands in this town do not work from written music because the music is in their heads,” says Lighthiser. “The musicians create an organic sound by playing off one another, and audiences can feel it in the music.”
Most Green Wave Brass Band members come from music education models in which each instrument is assigned a part from which the musicians do not stray. The tradition of brass band music is far more lenient.
The brass band has been gaining notice. They’ve performed at Tulane home football games in the Louisiana Superdome and undergraduate admission events, and, for the second year in a row, they’ll play at the Rock ’n’ Mardi Gras Marathon & 1/2 benefiting the American Cancer Society on Feb. 12.
The band secured a gig at a New Orleans restaurant — Wow Café and Wingery on Magazine Street — after the restaurant’s owner saw the group perform during a Tulane football game. Since then, on New Orleans Saints game days, the band played regularly at the restaurant during halftime.
To hire the band for events, e-mail Mark Lighthiser or call 504-495-6885.
Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5000 firstname.lastname@example.org