The Smoky Mountain Brass Band draws its membership from throughout Western North Carolina. The members, who represent a number of professions, share a common passion of performing music in a dynamic ensemble.
The band was founded in April of 1981 by Western Carolina University music professor Richard Trevarthen and a small cadre of the finest brass players in Western North Carolina. As the story goes, a group from Haywood County secured an arts grant for the purpose of founding a community band. This core group attended a weekend workshop promoting British-style brass bands held at N.C. State University. Workshop participants used a complete set of brand new instruments provided by the Yamaha Instrument Corporation. A Yamaha sales representative announced during the first day of the workshop that any group with a charter to establish a brass band in hand could lease to own a complete set of instruments and that the company would waive the first payment due for twelve months.
That night, over dinner in a Raleigh restaurant, the Haywood County group drew up the initial charter for the Smoky Mountain Brass Band. They presented their charter the following morning and left that afternoon, bringing the very set of instruments from the workshop with them in a rented U-Haul truck! A number of these original instruments are still being used by the band today.
Over the past thirty years the band has performed many concerts throughout the area as well as notable performances in Toronto, Ontario, Pittsburgh, PA, Columbus, OH, the Knoxville, TN World’s Fair and the 1987 inaugural ball of former North Carolina Governor Jim Martin. The band won first place in Championship category of the 1983 North American Brass Band Association competition and the 1989 competition in Asheville’s Thomas Wolfe Auditorium.
Music Directors of the Smoky Mountain Brass Band
Mr. Trevarthen served as the band’s first artistic director and conductor until his retirement in 1992. Haywood County native Dr. Wayne Pressley, a long-time member of the music faculty at Mars Hill College and a charter member of the band, served as interim conductor for several months until Dr. John West accepted the baton later that same year. Dr. West, who was director of bands at Western Carolina University served until 1997 and was succeeded as by Ken Kroesche, also on the music faculty at Western Carolina University, until December, 1998. Mark Clodfelter assumed the position of Artistic Director and Conductor of the Smoky Mountain Brass Band in January, 1999. Mr. Clodfelter, a trumpet instructor at Mars Hill College, remained until June, 2002 when he accepted a position on the music faculty at the University of Kentucky and left Western North Carolina.
William Bryant, Director of Bands at A.C. Reynolds High School in Asheville, stepped to the podium in September, 2002. Four years later, Dr. Bryant passed the baton to Dr. John Entzi, who was at that time Director of Bands at the University of North Carolina at Asheville. Dr. Entzi began his tenure as the band’s seventh director when rehearsals for the 26th season began in September, 2006. In November of 2012, Dr. David Wilken, Instructor of Music at Western Carolina University, became our eighth director. And in January, 2017, Ryan Summers became our current Director of Music.