Richard Brasco wanted to organize a challenging outlet for area musicians.
In May 2001, he organized the Savannah River Winds, an adult band. Since its founding, the group has given about four concerts each year, performed in the Westobou Festival, twice in the Georgia Music Educators Association State Music Convention and, in February, will perform for a second time in the South Carolina Music Educators Association State Music Convention.
The John Philip Sousa Foundation also named the band the 2010 recipient of the Sudler Silver Scroll Award, which is given to one outstanding adult band in North America.
Brasco handpicked the band’s original members. Since then, membership has been by invitation or audition, which is done by the band’s section leaders, he said.
“It’s a group of serious players, people who really enjoy playing difficult and challenging music,” he said, noting that the careers of the band’s 60 members range from band directors to surgeon.
Sharing his love of music and bringing others together to enjoy it have long been goals for Brasco.
In addition to being the conductor for Savannah River Winds, he also conducts the Augusta State University’s conservatory wind symphony and a high school band during Augusta State’s summer camp. He is also an adjunct faculty member at Augusta State.
“I really enjoy spending time conducting,” he said. “I don’t get much time to play anymore, so that’s my instrument.”
Brasco joined the band in junior high school in Jeannette, Pa., and later earned a spot on the honor band. He recently had an opportunity to return to Pennsylvania to be a guest conductor for the honor band he was once a part of, he said.
After high school, he went on to further his education in music by obtaining his bachelor’s degree from St. Vincent College and master’s degree from the University of South Carolina.
He has 35 years of experience in music education and has directed concert, jazz and marching bands in Georgia and South Carolina. He also conducts clinics where he is a guest conductor or teacher for a music program or band.
Over the years, Brasco has been recognized locally and nationally for his contributions as an educator and a conductor, with awards including being a four-time recipient of the National Band Association Citation of Excellence, recipient of the American School Band Directors Association’s Stanbury award, and he was named Teacher of the Year and Star Teacher three times at Evans High School. He was inducted into the school’s Wall of Fame in 2008.
While he has accomplished a lot musically, Brasco continues to set goals, especially with Savannah River Winds.
“I have a tendency to keep setting goals all the time,” he said. “I have to do a little bit more and achieve a little bit more, but my main function with Savannah River Winds is to make sure that the guys and gals are having a good time.”
Brasco has lived in North Augusta for more than 40 years with his wife, Barbara. They have two children, Craig Brasco, who lives in Marietta, Ga., and Mia Miller, of Aiken, and four grandchildren.