In April of 1984, about 30 amateur brass players from the Pittsburgh area gathered together to participate in a movement that was quickly sweeping the United States: the Brass Band movement, based on the British-style brass bands. From that initial group of players was formed the North Hills Brass Band with John Culp as its newly appointed Music Director. In 1987 the band changed its name to the Allegheny Brass Band to reflect the larger area which the band served. The band has traditionally drawn its members from among the finest brass players in Southwestern Pennsylvania. Professional musicians sit side by side with accountants, teachers, and businesspeople to perform the great works for brass band.
In its 25-plus year history, the Allegheny Brass Band has performed for thousands of fans in the Western Pennsylvania area and throughout the United States. In 1994, the ABB accepted an invitation from the Royal Bermuda Regiment to present a series of 4 concerts on the island of Bermuda. Under the direction of then-assistant conductor Keith Johnston, the ABB performed for standing-room-only crowds, concluding its tour with a special concert in the capital city of Hamilton for over 5,000 people. At the end of the 1995 season, John Culp announced his intent to step down as Music Director and the board appointed Frank Farina conductor while they began an intensive search which concluded in 1996 with the appointment of the young Carnegie Mellon-trained Johnston. Johnston brought to the ABB a fresh new approach to music-making. . In 1996, the band also performed in China at the invitation of the Chinese government.
After Johnson accepted a position with the Syracuse (N.Y.) Symphony, the band needed to look no further than its own cornet section for its next Music Director, Paul Gerlach, a lifelong musician who currently also directs the Carnegie-Mellon Kiltie Band as well as wind ensembles at Westminster University in Pennsylvania. In 2012, Paul stepped down and the current Music Director, Steve Baldanzi, took the podium.
With a solid core of charter members as well as dedicated new recruits, the Allegheny Brass Band continues to delight audiences of all ages.. The band plays a regular concert series in the Greater Pittsburgh area between late fall and early spring of each year but also tours Western and Central Pennsylvania, Eastern Ohio and Northern West Virginia throughout the summer and early fall, playing at community music series, special events, and private affairs.
In the tradition of the British brass bands that inspired it, the ABB performs many styles of music — symphonic to opera, popular music from the Big Band era, selections from the Beatles through Broadway, movie and stage hits, plus the best new works for brass band from contemporary composers such as Philip Sparke, Stephen Bulla and William Himes.