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Returning musician looks to 'invigorate' River City Brass' 33rd season

| Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2013, 7:53 p.m.
Euphonium player Lance LaDuke
Euphonium player Lance LaDuke

River City Brass is moving into its 33rd year with a strong step into the past: the return of euphonium virtuoso Lance LaDuke.

LaDuke, who is a comic showman as well as a marvelous musician, was with the band 1999-2006 before leaving to join the Boston Brass.

“And now he is coming back to us,” says River City general director James Gourlay. LaDuke was one of three personnel changes that Gourlay thinks will “invigorate” the band.

Also joining the band are cornetist Erin Yanacek and bass trombone player Hakeem Bilal.

The band will open its season Sept. 5 at Beulah Presbyterian Church in Churchill with “Stars in Brass,” a concert built around film and show music. Gourlay says the show will focus on “Pittsburgh and the band,” featuring soloists such as cornetist Bernie Black and music from movies shot in Pittsburgh like “The Dark Knight Rises,” “Flashdance,” “Jack Reacher” and “Striking Distance.”

Also featured will be famous pieces such as music from “The Magnificent Seven” and “The Lord of the Rings.”

Late last season, Gourlay believed the band finally would end the year in the black, but he says now it didn't, even if its total revenue was up 20 percent for 2012-13.

Trying to boost attendance this season, concerts at the Lincoln Park Performing Arts Center in Beaver County have been moved to Friday or Saturday instead of Wednesday.

Also, in an attempt to fill in some of the empty spots in the band's season, Gourlay has booked the ensemble for appearances in Florida in January, and Arizona in February.

It also will appear at the Toronto Brass Festival, a February event sponsored by the Hannaford Street Brass Band.

Gourlay, who took over directing the band in 2010, has been given a five-year contract extension.

Bob Karlovits is a staff writer at Trib Total Media. He can be reached at

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