A 35-piece British-style brass band sat in a spacious blue-lit broadcasting studio, playing with gleaming traditional brass instruments. With skilled precision, the band performed music that ranged from the softly melodious to the spirited and traditional, as well as bringing in some powerfully epic climaxes.
Highway 89, a new radio program featuring live broadcasts, was launched Thursday, Sept. 22 with a performance by Utah Premiere Brass. The performance was broadcast from BYU Broadcasting’s Studio locally on 89.1 and 89.5 FM, as well as nationally on satellite radio Sirius XM 143.
Highway 89 will feature an eclectic spectrum of musical genres, including bluegrass, a capella, jazz, Celtic, Broadway and folk. The broadcast will feature mostly local talent. It has attracted an array of high-profile professional musicians from various arts groups, as well as faculty and students from Utah colleges and universities.
According to Jacqueline Tateishi, the producer of Highway 89 and KBYU’s Classical 89, the BYU Broadcasting Building has recently seen a drastic upgrade of its studios and equipment.
“Studio 6 and 6B are state-of-the-art,” said Tateishi. “They are as good as any studio in New York or Los Angeles.”
At this, she gestured toward a camera that was roughly the size of a small horse. The microphones came from Germany. The speakers came from Kentucky, and the amps came from Canada, England, and New York. The piano, naturally, is a 7’ Model B New York Steinway.
The musical group selected for Highway 89’s debut, Utah Premiere Brass, is Utah’s only British-style brass band. UPB’s director, Kirt Seville, stressed that this type of band is a very different breed than the average marching band because it is instrumentally stylized.
“Most people would describe it as a darker, richer sound,” said Seville. “We think this will be a great opportunity to reach people who otherwise wouldn’t hear us,” he said. “We would hope this would create a greater listening audience for us.”
Highway 89 will have several unique features. Each broadcast will be a live performance. According to Tateishi, a live broadcast from a place like Carnegie Hall may have up to 150 edits.
“Ours is really live,” she said.
If a microphone stand topples over with a clang in the middle of a performance, it will be broadcast as it is. Another aspect of the program is the nostalgic structure. A member of the community is chosen as the host for the evening, and between musical numbers the musicians will be asked to speak of their personal lives. Unlike many radio programs today, it isn’t the composer or the composition being analyzed. Instead, the focus is getting to know the musician in a personal way.
“Our style is pretty radical,” said Tateishi. “It’s pretty old school and that doesn’t happen so much today.”
The actual U.S. Highway 89 is a historic road. It winds its way from south Yellowstone National Park, along the spine of the Rockies, through Utah, and ends up in Flagstaff, Arizona. Along the way it passes seven National Parks, including Zion National Park, Glen Canyon, and Lake Powell.
The radio program is meant to be metaphorically akin to driving along that road. Experiencing the variety of musical styles on the broadcast is comparable to watching the changing landscape along the highway’s diverse terrain.
“The phrase we associate it with is: Highway 89–Utah’s most scenic musical byway,” Tateishi said.
Highway 89’s second broadcast will be on Sept. 27 and will showcase the talents of UVU faculty Donna Fairbanks, Elizabeth Wallace, Natachia Li, Alice Hansen, Mary Richards and Janet Peterson.
Highway 89 broadcasts
Classical 89 (89.5 FM)
Tuesdays, 8 p.m.
Saturdays, 5 p.m.
Sirius XM 143
Weeknights, 10 p.m.
By Lindsey Nelson