1st Nebraska’s BIG Project

Being a reenactment organization, the 1st Nebraska Volunteers Brass Band is a “Living History” unit preserving the look and sound of Nebraska’s original Civil War band. We accomplish this by wearing Union army Civil War uniforms, and by playing authentic brass band music taken from original Civil War band books.

Our performances include a narration that describes the music the audience is hearing and relates details of soldiering during the Civil War. This provides historical context for our music, and through education increases the audience’s appreciation for pioneer days in Nebraska.

However, in order to complete our reenactment and to provide yet another level of authenticity, 1st Nebraska needs to acquire brass instruments constructed during the Civil War period. Fortunately, many have been preserved in collections and are currently in use by other reenactment bands.

Upper Voice Over-the-Shoulder Saxhorns
Upper Voice Over-the-Shoulder Saxhorns

The most common style of Civil War brass instruments is the “Over-the-Shoulder” (OTS) Saxhorns. Since bands marched in front of the troops, having backward pointing bells made it easier for the soldiers to hear what music was being played. These OTS Saxhorns came in a variety of sizes, as the photos indicate.

Lower Voice Over-the-Shoulder Saxhorns
Lower Voice Over-the-Shoulder Saxhorns

1st Nebraska needs a variety of these OTS instruments: 2 E-flat Cornets, 2 B-flat Cornets, 3 E-flat Alto Horns, 2 B-flat Tenor Horns, 2 Baritones, and 2 E-flat Bass Saxhorns. We also need 2 snare drums and 1 bass drum. That’s 16 instruments in all.

Not surprisingly, the cost for purchasing these instruments varies by size. The smallest instruments will cost us $2,500, the medium $5,000, and the largest $10,000. Altogether, 1st Nebraska needs $60,000 to buy a complete set.

Since the 1st Nebraska is now a 501c3 public charity, we are qualified to apply for foundation grants, but we would also welcome tax deductible donations from businesses and individuals, too.

If you know of a potential donor please drop me an email and we’ll get in touch! Thanks!

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