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The Del Monte Brass...

Winter Ball 2023

is an all-volunteer band that performs at NPS graduations, military balls, and other campus events, as well as at various community events.  The group originated as a brass ensemble but now also includes woodwind, guitar, keyboard, string bass, and percussion players.  (Learn more about our history below.) 

The Del Monte Brass welcomes players of all abilities.  No audition is required.  Current members include students from the Naval Postgraduate School and other local universities, NPS faculty and staff, and residents of Monterey and other nearby towns.

Rehearsals take place in King Hall on Tuesdays from 4:30 to 6:00 PM and on Fridays from 12:00 noon to 1:30 PM.  Most players have their own instruments, but in some cases we are able to provide them.

For more information about the group, please contact us.  

Our History

2003    The Del Monte Brass is started by CAPT Carol O’Neal, USN

Carol was the Dean of Students at the Naval Postgraduate School from 2003 to 2006.  She started the Del Monte Brass as a brass quintet in which she played trumpet.  By the time the group performed at its first graduation ceremony in 2003, it had 9 players.  Since Carol was serving as Dean of Students, she ran back and forth from the band to the stage!  Prior to 2003, recorded music had been used at NPS graduations.

2006    Carol leaves NPS (temporarily!)

When Carol retired from the Navy after 30 years, she and her new husband left the Monterey area and moved to southern Oregon.  Of course, the Del Monte Brass played at her retirement ceremony.

2008    The Del Monte Brass disbands (with apologies for the terrible pun)

Without anyone to take over, the band continued for two years but was unable to remain active after that.

2009    Carol returns to NPS

Carol returned to NPS as a researcher, and soon the Del Monte Brass was back in business.

2012    Tom Norbs becomes the first woodwind player to join the band

Since the music library only contained parts for brass instruments, Tom had to play trumpet parts on his saxophone. 

2013    Saxophonist John Oh becomes the second DMB woodwind player

More woodwind players soon followed, and the subsequent donation of a drum set enabled percussion players to be added as well. John encouraged the purchase of new music for full band, and since then the library has continued to be gradually updated.  John is still a much loved and valued member of the DMB!

2014    Kip Route joins the band

When Vice Admiral Ronald Route (Ret) became President of NPS in 2013, the fact that his wife was a flute player was of great interest to Carol O’Neal and the Del Monte Brass.  According to Carol, although it took many hours of persuasion to convince Kip to return to flute playing after many years away, once she attended a rehearsal she was hooked.  Kip was able to help solicit some generous funding from the Officers’ Spouses Club and the NPS Foundation, which allowed the band to purchase additional music.  Donated instruments also allowed more players to join the group and the Del Monte Brass continued to grow in size.

2015    Kristen Thompson becomes conductor of DMB

Kristen was an experienced local conductor and percussionist, who agreed to take over as conductor of the Del Monte Brass in September of 2015.  Kristen served as conductor until 2017, when she became a full-time teacher in the Spreckels Public Schools. 

2017    Michael Schwartz takes over

In 2017, NPS student LT Michael Schwartz, USN, became the next conductor of the Del Monte Brass. During his time as conductor, Michael added many new pieces to the repertoire, including several that he wrote or arranged. 

2019    Leland McCarty becomes the new conductor

LCDR Leland McCarty, USN, a student at NPS, was also a talented guitarist, and often wore two hats as he played and conducted at the same time!  Leland continued to serve as our leader until he graduated in December of 2020, although  his final months at NPS were during the Covid-19 pandemic and we were only able to meet on Zoom.  Still, Leland kept the band together through a very difficult time and for that we are grateful!

2020   The pandemic begins

COVID-19 caused the cancellation of graduations and other events, and beginning in March the Del Monte Brass cancelled all in-person rehearsals and performances.  We began meeting weekly on Zoom, taking turns playing for each other and giving members a chance to keep in touch.

2021   The Del Monte Brass is back in business!!

After nearly 16 months apart, the Del Monte Brass finally resumed rehearsals on July 20, 2021 under the direction of nationally recognized music educator Dr. Robert KlevanWhen Rob is out of town, he leaves us in the capable hands of accomplished music educator and French horn player D.L .Johnson. Our first performance of the year was on September 23 at a picnic sponsored by the President's Board of Student Affairs.  Although many performance opportunities and rehearsals later had to be cancelled due to the continuation of the pandemic, we enjoyed every opportunity to play, and by the end of the year things were almost back to normal.

2022  The DMB continues to grow

In 2022 the Del Monte Brass added many wonderful new musicians, reaching a total of over 40 members by the end of the year.  We also added some new instruments, including bassoon, oboe, string bass, and electronic mallet station! Our 2022 performances included all four NPS graduation ceremonies, as well as numerous other on-campus and community events. 

2023  The DMB breaks records

The Del Monte Brass is bigger and better than ever, with 48 active members and a repertoire that's continuing to grow.  In 2023 we played at 16 events, including five events in just two weeks right before our winter break in December.  There were so many performances that we hardly had time to rehearse!

2024  A sad farewell

This year the Del Monte Brass said good-bye to trumpet player Tony Venza, who passed away in March.  Tony was a wonderful musician and a good friend, and he will always be missed.  

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