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James Gourlay was born in Scotland, where, at the age of ten, he was "volunteered" to play in his school brass band. Being the tallest in class, he was serendipitously given the tuba, an instrument he loves and continues to promote all over the world.
After much success as a solo champion, Gourlay entered the Royal College of Music but left after a short time to become the Principal Tuba of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra at the age of eighteen. He continued working at the BBC Symphony Orchestra for ten years, then performed for an additional ten years with the Orchestra of the Zurich Opera. Gourlay's career as a chamber musician and soloist continues to flourish. He has been a member of the Philip Jones and English Brass ensembles with which he has toured the world, and also continues to perform as a soloist extensively. He has recorded five solo CDs, the latest being British Tuba Concertos recorded for the Naxos label with the Royal Ballet Sinfonia, which has since received international critical acclaim.
Gourlay's early work within the Brass Band Movement forms a vital component of his creative output. After early success with the Brass Band Berneroberland, he became music director of the Williams Fairey Band with which he won the English Masters and British Open contents. Gourlay has also been the professional conductor of the Grimethorpe Colliery and the Etoiles, with which he has won the Swiss National Championships, the Swiss Open Championships, and second place at the European as well as at the World Brass Band Championships.
Gourlay's commitment to music education is a continuing passion. He has been Head of Wind and Percussion at the Royal Northern College of Music and Deputy Principal and Music Director at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama. He holds a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from Salford University, a Masters degree from Leeds University, a Fellowship of the Royal Northern College of Music, a Fellowship of the London College of Music, and is also a recipient of the Henry Iles Medal, presented by the Worshipful Company of Musicians for services to the Brass Band Movement. Currently, Gourlay is International Vice President of the International Tuba and Euphonium Association and Artistic Director of the River City Brass.
Drew Fennell joined the River City Brass in 1998 as Assistant Principal Solo Cornet, and currently occupies the position of Principal Solo Flugelhorn. He solos very frequently with the ensemble, both as a flugelhorn/trumpet player and as a singer. He also worked as Associate Conductor of the ensemble for ten years (1999-2009), and has conducted the River City Youth Brass Band since 2005. In 2007, he joined the faculty at Grove City College (PA) as Adjunct Professor of Trumpet.
A 1994 graduate of Carnegie Mellon University, he studied with the inimitable Anthony Pasquarelli. Fennell performed extensively during this time, including several solo appearances with the Carnegie Mellon Philharmonic. After receiving his degree, he served as principal trumpet with the Butler, Altoona and Youngstown Symphonies, as well as a six-month appointment to the position of second trumpet with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. Additionally, his solo playing has been heard locally and internationally in recital, and on International Public Radio.
In addition to playing, he has built a solid reputation as a fine composer and arranger. He has completed well over 100 projects for the River City Brass, a dozen of which appear on various RCB recordings. He also created arrangements for numerous other groups, such as the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, the Wheeling Symphony Orchestra, the Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh and the Pittsburgh Concert Chorale.
Michael Dingfelder is a native of western Pennsylvania. He was born in Sewickley, PA and raised in Ambridge, PA. In Ambridge is where he developed his love for music as part of the renowned Ambridge Area band program. Ambridge teachers including Michael Spagnolo, Richard Zana and Sal Aloe inspired Michael to make music performance and education his life's work. He is a graduate of Duquesne University with both a Bachelor of Science degree in music education and a Master of Science degree in education with a major in child psychology.
His euphonium training was influenced by James E Botti and Lance LaDuke. Michael has performed for many years with the River City Brass and was named a full time member in 2018. When not playing euphonium with the River City Brass, Michael is a musician with the Beaver County Symphonic Wind Ensemble, which is a community concert band in Beaver County. He also performs as a freelance musician during the holiday seasons.
Music education is also very important to Michael. He has been an educator in the Pennsylvania public school system since 2005. He teaches elementary band, middle school general music and the jazz ensemble at the Riverside Beaver County School District. He also has been an assistant marching band director with numerous bands in the Pittsburgh area. In addition to his public schoolteaching, Michael is the former assistant conductor of the Beaver County Symphonic Wind Ensemble. He has been invited to guest conduct honors band festivals throughout Pennsylvania and he is currently the assistant conductor and low brass coach of the River City Youth Brass Band.
Michael currently resides with his wife Emily in Center Township, PA. In his spare time, Michael likes to train for foot races that he participates in throughout the country. What he enjoys the most is spending a quiet moment with the many family and friends that live nearby.
Albert Lerini, Percussion
Bert is currently an Adjunct teacher at Washington & Jefferson College and maintains a private teaching studio. He received his Bachelors in Music from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania. Bert has extensive experience as a teacher and performer. He performs regularly with the Wheeling Symphony, the Elite Showband, Will E Tri and the Bluescaters, and the worship team at the River Franklin Park. He has appeared with the Youngstown Symphony, Erie Philharmonic, the New Sousa Band, National Broadway tourning productions of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” and “Little Shop of Horrors”. He has backed Bobby Vinton, Regis Philbin, Sandy Duncan, Kristin Chenoweth, Jim Nabors, and Don Rickles among others. His students have won numerous scholarships, awards, and performance opportunities. Bert also works at Drummer’s Service in Emsworth. He lives in Hopewell Township