Our Musicians

James Gourlay, Artistic & General Director

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.

Shawn Wilson, Principal EB Soprano Cornet

Shawn Wilson officially joined River City Brass in 2015 as part of the solo cornet section and moved to Eb Soprano Cornet in 2021. He is a graduate of Duquesne University with his B.A., M.M., and A.D. in classical trumpet performance. Shawn is a software developer, and a founder of the Wilson/Werner real estate team. He keeps an active freelance schedule with organizations around Pittsburgh.

Shawn has performed alongside many entertainment artists, including The Who, John Williams, Hugh Jackman, Weird Al Yankovic, Michael W. Smith, Mannheim Steamroller, Israel Houghton & others.

Josh Boudreau, Principal Cornet & Concert Master

Josh graduated from Harvard University with a degree in American History, which prepared him “perfectly” for his current position in River City Brass. Seriously though, Josh gained invaluable experience growing up playing summers with the American Wind Symphony under the baton of his father, Robert Auston Boudreau. Being aboard the Point Counterpoint II while surrounded by young professional musicians provided an incredibly strong musical foundation and introduced him to new and challenging repertoire. In addition to traveling with the group, Josh was responsible for piloting the 195-foot performing arts center on every conceivable waterway in the United States and many in Europe, as well.

Since those days, Josh performed as principal trumpet with many groups, including the Altoona, Westmoreland, and Butler Symphony Orchestras. He was also a member of the Pensacola, FL Symphony and the Perdido Brass Quintet in the 1990s. Recently, Josh has performed regularly with the Pittsburgh Opera as well as freelancing extensively in the Pittsburgh area. He is a member of several smaller ensembles including the Windsor and Keystone Brass Quintets as well as the Academy Chamber Orchestra of Pittsburgh. Josh maintains a private teaching studio with 15-20 young and inspiring trumpeters. Josh lives on a farm with his family in Mars, PA and is a supervisor for the Department of Human Services, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Scott Nadelson, Solo Cornet

Currently living in Pittsburgh, Scott is the Assistant Principal Cornet for the River City Brass Band. He brings a unique artistic versatility to the group that enables him to showcase his skills through classical, jazz, commercial, and chamber music.  Scott also plays lead trumpet for Beauty Slap (electro-funk), C Street Brass, the NASCAR Awards Show Band, and the Nu Deco Ensemble, a contemporary orchestra in Miami, FL. In addition, Scott plays regularly at the Kennedy Center for Mason Bates’ KC Jukebox new music series.

Scott began his love affair with trumpet at the age of 12, studying with New York freelancing god Chris Jaudes, and was one of two trumpet performers to win the prestigious New Jersey State Governors School award. While earning his M.M. from Carnegie Mellon and his B.M. from Peabody Conservatory Scott not only honed his love for music but for great coffee, rye whiskey, and barbeque as well.

Jeffrey Nicodemus, Solo Cornet & Music Librarian

Jeffrey Nicodemus joined the RCB in 1984. He played 2nd cornet, Repiano cornet and Flugelhorn until 1987, when he became the band’s Principal Eb Soprano Trumpet player. He played soprano until 2021, when he moved to solo cornet.

He is a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University, where he studied Trumpet Performance under the guidance of the renowned Anthony L. Pasquarelli. He was a two time winner in the Pittsburgh Concert Society Solo Competition in 1987 and has performed with many organizations, including the McKeesport, Westmoreland and Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestras and the Civic Light Opera Orchestra. He maintains an active freelance performance schedule, a private teaching studio, and teaches full time in the Pine Richland School District.

Joseph Perrino, Solo Cornet

Joseph Perrino joined the RCB in 1994 as a Second Cornetist and now plays as a Section Solo Cornetist. A student of Anthony Pasquarelli, he holds a BFA degree in Trumpet Performance and a Certification in Music Education from Carnegie Mellon University. An active freelance performer, Joseph works as a soloist, ensemble member and lead trumpet player with several groups throughout the region. He has appeared as a section player in many area big bands, most notably with Randy Purcell’s Big Bad Band, the George Gee Orchestra, and the Johnny Murphy Orchestra. He has also performed with the orchestras of the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus. Joseph maintains an extensive private trumpet studio in the Eastern Suburban area and is currently researching the needs of trumpet students with orthodontic problems. Joseph is also a music educator in the Riverview School District.

William Hughes, Repiano Cornet

William Hughes graduated from Carnegie Mellon University with a Bachelors Degree in Music Performance. While at Carnegie Mellon, he studied with Mr. Anthony L. Pasquarelli and performed with the University’s Wind Ensemble. In addition to his work as a freelance musician, Bill is a private trumpet teacher in the City of Pittsburgh.

Adam Leasure, First Cornet

Adam graduated from Duquesne University with a B.S. in Music Education and Carnegie Mellon University with a M.M in Music Performance. Aside from River City Brass, he has performed with the Wheeling Symphony, Pittsburgh Opera Orchestra, and the American Wind Symphony. Adam currently teaches elementary band in the North Allegheny School District and resides in McCandless with his wife and two daughters.

Alex Perez, First Cornet

Alex Perez is a freelance trumpet player and jazz instructor in the Pittsburgh area. He is currently enrolled at Duquesne University for his bachelor’s degree in music, while also coaching high school jazz students at Center of Life in Hazelwood. Although Alex’s specialty is in jazz music, he also performs with local salsa band Karibe Son, neo-soul artist Sierra Sellers, hip-hop group Abstract Theory, jazz-fusion band Fusion Illusion, and wedding corporations Bachelor Boys and You-Pick Entertainment.

Stephen McGough, Second Cornet

Stephen McGough played his first concert with the River City Brass in 1998 as a student at Carnegie Mellon University, where he studied with Anthony Pasquarelli and earned his bachelor’s and master’s degree in trumpet performance.  Upon graduation, he followed his future wife to NYC where he auditioned for music gigs and tried an office job with the International Rescue Committee.  After a couple of years, he returned to Pittsburgh, got married, and began his teaching career. He is currently the middle and high school orchestra director in the Peters Township School District. As a freelance musician, he has worked throughout the region with ensembles including the Pittsburgh Symphony, the Bach and Mendelssohn Choirs, and the Allegheny City Ragtime Orchestra.  He is a Lieutenant with the Bethel Park Volunteer Fire Company, and has three lovely daughters, whom he adores, with wife Julie.

Samantha Croach, Second Cornet

Samantha has played cornet with the River City Brass since 2015. She is a graduate of Slippery Rock University with a B.A. in Music Education and Carnegie Mellon University with a M.M. in Trumpet Performance. In addition to performing with RCB, Samantha enjoys planning and teaching for their School of Brass program on Saturday mornings. She also maintains a private trumpet studio in Zelienople. Currently, Samantha spends her days as a stay-at-home mom to two little boys. 

Drew Fennel, Principal Flugelhorn

Drew Fennell, a native of Ford City, PA, graduated from Carnegie Mellon University as a trumpet performance major; and in his nearly thirty-year professional career, has played in every major professional ensemble in Western Pennsylvania, including the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, the Pittsburgh Opera, the Ballet, and Civic Light Opera Orchestra.  Since 1998, he has made his performing home with the River City Brass.  He served as Assistant Principal Solo Cornet for nine seasons and currently occupies the Solo Flugelhorn chair.  He is a frequent soloist—both instrumental and vocal—with the ensemble. Previously, he served as Associate Conductor of the band, and recently stepped down as conductor of the River City Youth Brass Band, after sixteen years as its leader.  He teaches applied trumpet at Grove City College, along with maintaining a healthy private trumpet studio.  For fifteen years, he also taught conducting and applied trumpet at the Carnegie Mellon Pre-College program, while serving as conductor of the brass and wind ensembles.

Beyond that, he’s conducted several honors band festivals around Western PA, and the Nassau County Band festival in Long Island. More recently, the focus has shifted to developing a publishing, recording, and music production business, Matonizz-Fennell Productions, featuring a fast-growing library of music for brass instruments.  Throughout his career, he has written hundreds of arrangements and composed over twenty new works for orchestra, wind band, brass band, and chorus.  Many of these appear on commercially released and self-produced recordings.  His original music and arrangements, published by BandWorks Publications, Cantatio Publishing, River City Brass Publishing, and others, have been performed to great acclaim all over the world.  His eclectic writing career includes the musical “Rivertown Firemen’s Jubilee,” Drew’s first foray into songwriting, and was premiered in 2013.  More recently, he composed “Declaration” for the famous Brighouse and Rastrick Band in the U.K.

Find Drew on social media @themusicofdrewfennell (YouTube and Instgram) and @drewfennellmusic (Facebook).

Jason Allison, Principal Horn

Jason Allison is a native of Western Pennsylvania and is currently a resident of Pittsburgh, where he is an active member of the local musical community. Mr. Allison holds contracts as the Principal Horn of Pittsburgh’s historic River City Brass, as well as Acting Principal Horn of the Wheeling Symphony Orchestra in nearby Wheeling, WV. In addition, Mr. Allison frequently plays as a substitute or extra horn with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, the Pittsburgh Opera and Ballet Orchestras, as well as the Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera Orchestra. He is also an active performer throughout Ohio as well as other parts of West Virginia and= Pennsylvania, where he has performed with the Harrisburg Symphony Orchestra, the Allentown Symphony Orchestra, the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra, the Akron Symphony Orchestra, and the Youngstown Symphony Orchestra. As a music educator, Mr. Allison is on the faculty of the University of Pittsburgh, and Seton Hill University. In the summer, Mr. Allison is part of the horn faculty at the Sewanee Summer Music Festival located on the beautiful campus of the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee.

Mr. Allison holds a BS in Music Education and a BA in Music Performance from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, where he studied with Jack Scandrett, formerly of the Pittsburgh Opera and Ballet Orchestras. He also received an MA in French Horn Performance from Duquesne University, where he studied with Bill Caballero and Zach Smith, both of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.

Kenneth Russo, Horn

Kenneth Russo has been a member of the French horn section of River City since 1983. He worked as a full-time freelance musician until 1988 at which time he added a parallel business career. Ken has served as a service operation executive for three different companies over his career, including Exec VP of Operations at CTR Systems and National Service Dir at HUB Parking Technologies while maintaining his full-time status with the band.  Russo received his B.F.A. in Music Performance at Carnegie Mellon University and later his Master of Organizational Leadership at Geneva College.

Brooke Boehmer, Horn

Brooke Boehmer, a native of Pittsburgh, is an active freelancer in the local community. Since moving back to the area in 2022, she has become a member of the River City Brass Band, a group she has greatly admired since she was young. In addition, Brooke has been playing with orchestras such as the Pittsburgh Opera Orchestra, the Wheeling Symphony, the Civic Light Opera Orchestra, as well as other groups throughout the area. Prior to residing in Pittsburgh, Brooke played regularly in several New England orchestras such as the Hartford Symphony, the Portland Maine Symphony Orchestra, and Symphony New Hampshire. During the summers, she participated in the Brevard Music Festival for several years and has been a substitute player with the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra. Always seeking out new playing opportunities, she can be seen playing Alphorn on ABC’s The Bachelor Winter Games released in 2018. Brooke Holds a Bachelor of Music degree in Horn Performance from Northwestern University where she studied with Gail Williams as well as Jon Boen of the Chicago Lyric Opera Orchestra. She also holds a Master of Music degree in Horn Performance from The New England Conservatory of Music where she studied with Michael Winter of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Brooke currently resides in the South Hills of Pittsburgh. When not making music, she can be found hiking in the woods or trying out a new brewery with friends.

Algirdas Matonis, Euphonium

Algirdas Matonis is a Lithuanian born euphonium player. He serves as a Principal Euphonium at River City Brass Band in Pittsburgh, Low Brass Instructor at Seton Hill University in Greensburg, PA, and is a founder of a digital music publishing company and store at www.matonizz.com.

Algirdas performed as a featured artist at ITEC in 2012, 2014 and 2019. In 2014 Algirdas won the ‘Fodens Solo Competition’ in the UK, which led to his appointment at River City Brass as well as a full scholarship for Carnegie Mellon University. Algirdas received his undergraduate degree in 2014 at Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester under the tutelage of Steven Mead and David Thornton. In 2017, he finished his postgraduate degree at Carnegie Mellon under the guidance of Lance LaDuke.

Algirdas is a sponsored artist with Denis Wick and DF Music Inc. He is currently dedicated to his role as the section leader at River City Brass, teaching at Seton Hill University and the RCB School of Brass, performing as a low brass clinician and soloist, and managing www.matonizz.com.

Michael Dingfelder, Euphonium

Michael Dingfelder is a local 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 and middle school general music 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 school teaching, Michael is the former assistant conductor of the Beaver County Symphonic Wind Ensemble. He also is a class of 2022 inductee into the Beaver Valley Musicians Hall of Fame. 

Ross Cohen, Baritone

Ross Cohen has played baritone in the River City Brass since 2007. Originally from Silver Spring, MD, Ross has a bachelor’s degree in music education from Penn State University and a master’s degree in Euphonium Performance from the University of Georgia. He moved to Pittsburgh to join the band after graduate school and has been a happy Pittsburgh transplant ever since!

Ross was a founding member of the River Bottom Quartet, comprised of the euphonium and baritone section of River City Brass. Their album “In Too Deep” was released in 2011 and is available on all standard streaming services. Ross also founded and directed the Liberty Brass Quintet, which performed in the public schools around Pennsylvania. An accomplished arranger, Ross has arranged music for these groups, for River City Brass and for school bands, and has had arrangements published and recorded. Ross has given masterclasses at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Slippery Rock University, Ohio State University and Penn State University. 

Past jobs in the field of music include working for the National Symphony Orchestra Education Department at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., and Tower Records in Rockville, MD. 

A proud educator, Ross is currently the Band Director at Norwin Middle School in North Huntingdon, PA. 

Abby Lannan, Baritone

Abigail Lannan is an artist, performer, and educator based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Through her online persona GoofyEuph, Abigail seeks to bring positivity, kindness, and mental health awareness to a musical audience and hopes to inspire musicians young and old to find love and enjoyment in music at any level.

In addition to the River City Brass Band, Abigail plays Euphonium with the Brass Roots and Flugabone with the Dirty Burgh Brass Band. Abigail won the 2019 Carnegie Mellon University Concerto Competition and performed the Diamond Concerto with the CMU Wind Ensemble. She is a co-creator of the Media Makers Workshop, a program that teaches individuals how to record and edit audio and video. Abigail holds a bachelor’s degree in music education from Florida State University and a Master’s Degree in Euphonium Performance from Carnegie Mellon University.

John Sebastian Vera, Trombone

John Sebastian Vera, a native of Texas, became the principal trombonist of the Pittsburgh Opera in 2010 and joined the River City Brass as principal Trombone in 2015. He is a founder of the Third Coast Trombone Retreat and also a professor of trombone at Duquesne University and faculty member at the Cleveland Institute of Music where he teaches a course on Music Entrepreneurship and Digital Media as well as coaches chamber music.  

In addition to the Pittsburgh Opera, Mr. Vera has played with the symphonies of Dallas, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Buffalo, Kennedy Center Opera House, Malaysian Philharmonic, New York City Ballet, Vermont, Harrisburg, Charleston, American Ballet Theatre, and Orquesta Sinaloa de las Artes in Mexico amongst others.  

He began his studies with Jon Bohls in Texas and continued his education at Southern Methodist University where he studied with John Kitzman of the Dallas Symphony. He then spent a year studying with Ed Zadrozny as a graduate assistant at the University of Akron, and finished his graduate work in New York City at the Mannes College of Music studying with David Finlayson and James Markey of the New York Philharmonic.  

In 2011, he spent the summer in Haiti volunteer teaching and performing in the Orchestre Philharmonique Sainte Trinite as well as the Ecole de Musique Dessaix Baptiste, which became one of the more profound experiences of his life.  

A dedicated chamber musician, he also was a founding member of the critically acclaimed Guidonian Hand Trombone Quartet in which he played from 2008-2014. With the quartet, John performed over 100 concerts and gave master classes all over the country. Heralded by the New York Times for their  “expertly played performances”, they have been recipients of numerous national grants which have enabled them to commission countless composers to create new and innovative works for four trombones. 2014 was the premiere of River of Fundament, a movie by film artist Mathew Barney, in which John recorded for and acted in along with the quartet.  

Mr. Vera can also be heard on the HBO documentary The Words that Built America as well as on euphonium in the PBS documentary Abraham and Mary Lincoln, A House Divided, as well as many commercial and video game soundtracks as well as James Markey’s solo release, “On Base”. 

Sebastian is an artist for Thein Instruments, has a signature JSV mouthpiece line he developed with Houghton Horns, and resides in Pittsburgh. His favorite musicians include Sigur Ros, Radiohead, the Books, and Efterklang. When he can get away from the trombone, he most enjoys basketball, traveling, and reading about psychology and social science. Check out his podcast he hosts with Nick Schwartz called The Trombone Retreat, available everywhere you download your podcasts. Follow him on Instagram @js.vera.

Gabriel Colby, Trombone

Gabriel Colby is a trombonist, teacher, recording artist, and certified fitness trainer based in Pittsburgh, PA. Gabriel serves as principal trombone for Nu Deco Ensemble, a cutting-edge chamber orchestra operating out of Miami, Florida, co-principal trombone for River City Brass Band, and is the trombone professor at Slippery Rock University.

Gabriel has a passion for chamber music and is constantly inspired through work with C Street Brass and Beauty Slap, two self-founded groups that he plays in and manages. C Street Brass performs a wide variety of genres in recital halls, performing arts centers, and more casual venues across the country. Beauty Slap, comprised of horns, keys, and electronics, is a “future-brass-thunder-funk” force of nature that tours nationally and plays sold-out shows in and around Pittsburgh. Both groups are focused on education and have given workshops at institutions including Juilliard, Carnegie Mellon University, University of South Carolina, and San Francisco State University. Gabriel’s passion for chamber music shines in his work with these groups and his dedication to educating the next generation of musicians.

As a clinician, Gabriel has given workshops and seminars on healthy movement, injury management, and the business of music at: West Virginia University, Third Coast Trombone Retreat, Carnegie Mellon University, Nu Deco NXT and more. Gabriel utilizes his personal experience recovering from injury and studying a variety of movement disciplines to help musicians and non-musicians alike feel more confident, playful, and powerful in their bodies.

In his free time, Gabriel enjoys all kinds of fitness training, golf, rock climbing, and eating ice cream. His love for music, fitness, and education is evident in all aspects of his life, and he strives to inspire and motivate those around him. Gabriel holds a B.M. and G.P.D. from Peabody Conservatory and an M.M. from Carnegie Mellon University.

Hakeem Bilal, Bass Trombone

Proudly hailing from Washington, D.C., trombonist Hakeem Bilal is an emerging artist. A highly sought-after musician, Mr. Bilal has performed throughout the world as a chamber, orchestral, and commercial trombonist, as well as a clinician, lecturer, and entrepreneurial coach. Mr. Bilal serves as trombone faculty at Youngstown State University’s Dana School of Music in Youngstown, Ohio and is currently the Bass Trombonist of C Street Brass and the Trombonist/MC of Beauty Slap. Since 2013, Hakeem has served as the bass trombonist of the River City Brass. Mr. Bilal has soloed with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and has served as a regular substitute with the orchestra since 2014. In addition to soloing (and singing) in front of RCB, Hakeem has also performed and collaborated with various jazz and mainstream artists across North America and several collegiate ensembles. Hakeem feels very fortunate to have taken his trombone to many diverse venues across the globe including Doha, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

Mr. Bilal began his musical studies on trombone at the age of eight, however it wasn’t until the age of fifteen when he began lessons with members of the National Symphony Orchestra and focused on bass trombone. With direct exposure to one of America’s best orchestras at his doorstep, Mr. Bilal quickly discovered his passion for music making and began to craft his dream to become a successful artist. 

Mr. Bilal holds a Bachelor of Music degree from the Peabody Conservatory at Johns Hopkins University and a Master of Music degree from Carnegie Mellon University. Mr. Bilal continued his studies in New York and North Texas before moving to Pittsburgh, crafting a diverse musical experience across many styles of music. While in New York, Mr. Bilal performed with legendary jazz and gospel legends including Bobbi Humphrey, Wycliffe Gordon, Richard Smallwood, Tye Tribbett, and Bobby Jones. During his studies, Hakeem was a student of Randall Campora of the Baltimore Symphony, Dr. Denson Paul Pollard of the Metropolitan Opera, Dr. David Begnoche of Texas Christian University, and Murray Crewe of the Pittsburgh Symphony.

Hakeem currently resides in Pittsburgh, PA and is proud to call Western Pennsylvania home. As a fan of slow cooking and an award winning mixologist behind the bar, Hakeem often enjoys barbeque and craft cocktails. In addition to his recordings with C Street Brass, Hakeem can be heard on the Naxos label with the Peabody Wind Ensemble, on iTunes, Amazon Mp3, and Spotify with electronic group ‘Beauty Slap,’ and on several recordings with the River City Brass.

Hakeem is an S.E. Shires Artist.

Samuel Buccigrossi, Principal Tuba

Sam Buccigrossi’s tuba playing has been described as “astonishingly delicate and intricately detailed” (The Washington Post). He is a native of Pittsburgh and began playing the tuba at the age of 13. Sam holds a Bachelor of Music and a Certificate of Advanced Chamber Music Study from the Eastman School of Music and a Master of Music Performance from the University of Maryland. His primary teachers include Matty Shiner, Don Harry, Toby Hanks, the Ying Quartet, and the Guarneri Quartet. 

Before becoming a member of River City Brass in 2008, Sam performed extensively with the Prism Brass Quintet, Grand Prize winners of the 1999 University of Georgia Brass Quintet Competition of the Americas. The Prism Brass Quintet was also a finalist in the 2002 Concert Artists Guild Competition. Sam has also performed frequently with the new music ensemble Alarm Will Sounds and has been a featured soloist with the Eastman Wind Ensemble. As an educator, Sam has taught brass chamber music at the Boston University Tanglewood Institute in 2002 and 2004, music theory, instrumental music, and music technology at the Pittsburgh High School for the Creative and Performing Arts from 2004 – 2012. 

Sam has worked in several software development roles since 2012 and is currently leading the development of customer facing cloud-native solutions for 3M’s Healthcare Technology business.  Sam also maintains an active freelance career in the Pittsburgh area regularly appearing with the West Virginia, Wheeling, and Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestras in addition to local chamber and contemporary music performances.

James Stillwagon, Tuba

James Stillwagon has played Eb tuba for the River City Brass Band since 2000 where he is not only a musician but has been featured numerous times in comedic roles.  He is a 1998 graduate of West Virginia University where he received a full scholarship in 1994.  While at WVU, Jim won the Young Artist competition in consecutive years. As a result, he performed the Vaughn Williams Tuba Concerto in 1997 and the Edward Gregson Tuba Concerto in 1998 with the WVU Symphony Orchestra.

Jim is also a middle school and high school band director in the Pine Richland School District.  His duties at Pine Richland include co-directing the middle school and high school bands, the high school marching band, & the middle school jazz band.  He also teaches music technology classes at the high school.  He has conducted the pit orchestra for 11 musicals, where his all-student orchestras have won the Gene Kelly Award for Best All Student Orchestra multiple times.  The 2023-24 school year marks his 25th year of teaching.  

In addition to RCBB, Jim has performed with the Wheeling Symphony, Johnstown Symphony, Western Maryland Symphony, Byham Opera Orchestra, Lincoln Park Pit Orchestra, The Banjo All Stars, The Pittsburgh Banjo Club, The Gateway Clipper Band, The Pittsburgh Pirate Bucco Band, The Entertainers, Carnegie Brass Quintet, and The Beverly Heights Brass Quintet with members of the Pittsburgh Symphony.

One interesting fact about Jim is that he is a second-generation member of the RCBB.  He comes from a musical family.  His father Jim Stillwagon Sr. was a founding member of the RCBB and played in the band for 26 years and was also a music teacher for the Pittsburgh Public Schools.  Jim also had the pleasure of performing in the band with his dad for a few years before he retired.  His mother Natalie was also a music teacher for the Pittsburgh Public Schools. Jim is very proud to be husband to his beautiful wife Lisa and father of 4 children: daughter Jadyn 17, son Evan 14, and identical twin boys Lucas 9, and Brody 9.  They live in the North Hills School District where coincidentally his daughter Jadyn is an accomplished 3rd generation tuba player in the North Hills Wind Ensemble. 

Brian Kelley, Tuba

Brian Kelley was born and raised in Boca Raton, FL. Mr. Kelley began playing with the River City Brass Band in September of 2017. He has performed with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Harrisburg Symphony Orchestra, Richmond Symphony Orchestra, West Virginia Symphony Orchestra, and Westmoreland Symphony Orchestra. Mr. Kelley has attended numerous summer festivals, including the National Repertory Orchestra, Brevard Music Center, Eastern Music Festival, and the National Orchestral Institute. 

Mr. Kelley completed his undergraduate degree at the University of Miami, his Master’s at Carnegie Mellon University, and is currently pursuing his Doctorate at West Virginia University. His main teachers include Dan Satterwhite, Sam Pilafian, Aaron Tindall, Craig Knox, and Carson McTeer. 

Carson McTeer, Tuba

Carson McTeer is currently on the West Virginia University faculty teaching tuba and euphonium after serving as the principal tubist of the Cincinnati Symphony and Pops Orchestras for seven seasons. Originally from Norman, Oklahoma, he received his B.A. from Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music, where he studied with tubist David E. Kirk. Carson is also a graduate of the Interlochen Arts Academy, where his teacher was Jeannie Elana Little.

He has performed as the principal tubist of the New York Philharmonic under Lorin Maazel, with the Israel Philharmonic under Zubin Mehta, and with the Empire Brass. His performances with the New York Philharmonic included the world premiere of John Adam’s On the Transmigration of Souls, the recording of which received the 2005 Grammy Award for “Best Classical Album,” “Best Orchestral Performance,” and “Best Classical Contemporary Composition.” Carson has also performed with the Pittsburgh Symphony, the Detroit Symphony, the St. Louis Symphony, the Utah Symphony, the Buffalo Philharmonic, the Colorado Symphony, and the Houston Symphony. He previously taught tuba and euphonium at the University of Colorado at Boulder and tuba and euphonium at Miami University in Ohio.

Carson is currently the principal tubist of the West Virginia Symphony and the Colorado Music Festival in addition to being a member of the River City Brass.

Richard Parsons, Principal Percussion

Richard Parsons has been a member of the RCB percussion section since 1989 and has been principal since 1994. A native of Ohio, Parsons is a graduate of West Virginia University where he was a four year recipient of a Board of Regents Scholarship. While at WVU he studied percussion and music performance under Phil Faini.

An active freelance musician, Rick was a member of the Wheeling Symphony for 25 years and has performed across the United States and Canada with such varied groups as Jamboree USA Staff Band, Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey Circus, the Ice Capades and Bob Hope.

Rick and his wife Peggy have three chidren, KiKi, Amy and Lucas as well as three grandsons: Charlie, Ricky and Danny.

Paul Evans, Percussion

Paul Evans, a native of Pittsburgh, graduated from Duquesne University where he earned a Bachelor of Music degree in Jazz Performance. While at Duquesne University he studied privately with Lenny Rogers and Don Liuzzi. After graduating in 1988, Paul went on to earn a Master of Music degree at Temple University. There, he received private instruction with Alan Able of the Philadelphia Orchestra.

Paul currently is section percussionist with the River City Brass. Paul maintains an active freelance schedule in the Pittsburgh area in addition to his duties as an artist lecturer in Percussion at Carnegie Mellon University. He often tours with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and serves as the percussion section coach with the Youth Brass Band.

Paul currently resides in the Pittsburgh area with his wife and four daughters.

Philip Webster, Percussion

Philip R. Webster is a percussionist who tours with the River City Brass. He has also performed with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, the Maryland Symphony Orchestra, the Brevard Festival Orchestra and the Duquesne University Orchestra. He’s studied with percussionist Andrew Ramer, timpanist Timothy Adams, and marimba artist She-e Wu. Philip recently received his Master of Music degree from Duquesne University; he received his Bachelor of Music degree from West Virginia University in Morgantown, WV.