The Branson Trumpet Ensemble began performing in the Branson area in 2005 and has amassed a library of over 1,000 arrangements ranging from Bach to Rock. Its performances have included weddings, private parties, concerts, conventions, church services as well as special music for many different occasions.
The Original Members
John Casebourn graduated from McMinnville Senior High School in McMinnville, Oregon. He earned his BS degree in 1987 from the College of the Ozarks, in Branson Missouri.
John was the band director at the following communities- Plato, Missouri from 1987 until 1988; Blue Eye, Missouri 1988-1998; Spokane, MO 1998-2006 and Kirbyville Middle School 2006 to the present.
John’s teachers include Mr. Leon Bradley at the College of the Ozarks in Branson, Missouri and Mr. James Elswick from Drury University in Springfield, Missouri.
Greg Hoffman grew up in Chicago, IL, was inspired by the sounds of Louis Armstrong and started playing trumpet in the 5th grade. Right after High School, his earlier musical experience took him on the road playing with the United States Air Force Band. Greg attended College of the Ozarks and holds a bachelor’s degree in Music Education from Drury University, and went on to be a band director at Galena High School in Galena, Missouri..
Mr. Hoffman is a freelance trumpet player and resides in Branson Missouri. For over 23 years, he has performed with artists including Tony Orlando, Diana Shore, Bill Cosby, Ray Price, Kristy Lane and Jerry Presley. He has performed all over the country including Las Vegas, New York City, Atlantic City and Biloxi Mississippi.
Greg wishes to bring his musical background and experiences to help energize and motivate student musicians around the country through a student performance program he created in Branson 14 years ago called, Branson On Stage Live! He has turned the theatre stages of Branson into the classroom and gives student performing groups a performance showcase of a lifetime!
Bob Smither is a native of Missouri and began studying trumpet at the age of eleven. He received his Bachelor of Music degree from the College of the Ozarks and a Masters of Music from the University of Oklahoma where he performed with the Faculty Brass Quintet and the Oklahoma Symphony. Mr. Smither became a member of the United States Military Academy Band at West Point, New York in 1984 where he spent 23 years performing in one of the nation’s premier military bands as a member of the Hellcat Field Music group, the Concert Band, Jazz Band, and the Heritage Brass Quintet. While in the service he was also a member of the Hudson Valley Philharmonic, Orange County Chamber Orchestra and the Newburgh Symphony. Among the many highlights in his career, include performances for our nation’s highest dignitaries including four presidents, performing in Carnegie Hall with the Academy Glee Club for West Point’s Bicentennial celebraton, and working with many other noted muscians and celebrities including members of the NY Philharmonic, Mr. Walter Cronkite, Mr. Charles Osgood, General Norman Schwarzkopf, John Faddis and Eddie Daniels just to name a few. His career culiminated in rising to the rank of Sergeant Major and being in charge of the Concert Band. Recently retired, SGM(R) Smither now lives in Branson, MO with his wife, son and daughter.
Bruce Chidester was a member of the faculty at the University of Northern Iowa, School of Music in Cedar Falls from 1969 until his retirement in 1999. While at the university he was actively performing with the Faculty Brass Quintet and the Faculty Jazz Quintet. In addition to teaching trumpet, his responsibilities included conducting the UNI Brass Choir, the UNI Jazz Ensemble II and the award winning UNI Bear Cats who were finalist in the 1986 Southern Comfort National Collegiate Dixieland Competition in Chicago, Illinois. His duties also included adjudicating and solo work throughout the state. He has performed at the International Trumpet Guild Convention and the Missouri Trumpet Festival in Columbia, Missouri. In 1982 his professional Dixieland Band (the Cedarloo All-Stars) opened the Bix Beiderbeck Festival in Davenport, Iowa.
Before teaching at UNI he performed in Dallas, Texas where he recorded commercials at Pam Recording Studio and was a member of the State Fair Band of Texas, Starlight Concert Band, Matamoras Brass and the dance bands of Mal Fitch, Tommy Amidor, Durwood Cline, Billy Williams and the Ted Weems Orchestra. His playing activities included performing in the following hotel bands- Executive Inn, Cabana Motor Inn, Desert Inn, Tower Motel, Baker Hotel and the Fairmont Hotel. Additional shows included-Shrine Circus, Ringling Brothers Circus, Royal Canadian Air Force Mounted Police, Harmonicats, International Water Follies, Ford Auto show, Holiday On Ice, Ice Capades, Lippizan Horse Show, Massey Ferguson tractor show and the Barnes Rodeo. He has performed with many well-known entertainers such as Bob Hope, Jim Nabors, Roy Rogers and Dale Evens, Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme, Anita Bryant, Carman Cavalara, Victor Borgie, the Four Freshman, Blackstone the Magician, Bobby Vinton and John Davidson.
Since moving to Branson, he has performed with the Lawrence Welk Orchestra, Les Brown Orchestra and has been a regular performer with the Bobby Vinton Orchestra for the past three years. He has also performed with the Branson Brass Quintet as well as his own chamber group, the Branson Trumpet Ensemble. He has taught at the College of the Ozarks as well as performing with their College/Community Band and was a selected member of the Branson All-Star Big Band. He was featured twice as soloist on the annual Tri Lakes Singers concert in Kimberling City and has performed with the following shows, musicals and dance bands in the area- Jerry Presley Show, Bye Bye Birdie, Sound of Music, Dave Rice Big Band, Steve Samuelson Big Band, Les Elgart and Les Brown.
To give its listeners a wider range of color and timbre, each player makes use of Bb trumpets, flugel horns, cornets as well as the higher pitched trumpets; C, D, Eb, and piccolo trumpets.
The Purpose of the Ensemble
The Branson Trumpet Ensemble was formed to fulfill two purposes. The first reason for the formation of the ensemble was to give its players a reason to continue practicing their instruments to keep their “chops” up. The second and equally strong reason to form was to promote live music in our area. With the great number of theaters and shows performing regularly, we felt that the smaller venues needed to be addressed and it was and is our desire to help promote live chamber music in the Branson Area.