Our Composers

Drew Fennell

Drew Fennell joined the River City Brass in 1998 as Assistant Principal Solo Cornet, and currently occupies the position of Principal Solo Flugelhorn. He solos very frequently with the ensemble, both as a flugelhorn/trumpet player and as a singer. He also worked as Associate Conductor of the ensemble for ten years, and has conducted the River City Youth Brass Band since 2005. He further performs with the River City 6, serves as Wind Ensemble Conductor and Trumpet Instructor at the Carnegie Mellon Summer Pre-College, and is Professor of Applied Trumpet at Grove City College (PA).

A 1994 graduate of Carnegie Mellon University, he studied with the inimitable Anthony Pasquarelli. Fennell performed extensively during this time, including several solo appearances with the Carnegie Mellon Philharmonic. After receiving his degree, he served as Principal Trumpet with the Butler, Altoona and Youngstown Symphonies, as well as a six-month appointment to the position of Second Trumpet with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. Additionally, his solo playing has been heard locally and internationally in recital, and on International Public Radio.

In addition to playing, he has built a solid reputation as a fine composer and arranger, and his works have been performed around the world. He has completed well over one-hundred projects for the River City Brass (formerly River City Brass Band), a dozen of which appear on various RCB recordings. He also created arrangements for numerous other groups, such as the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, the Wheeling Symphony Orchestra, the Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh and the Pittsburgh Concert Chorale. His original compositions have been equally successful. As part of its Twentieth Anniversary Celebration, River City Brass Band commissioned Drew Fennell to compose a new piece for the band.  

Fennell is also in demand as a conductor. In addition to many performances with the River City Brass Band and his work with the River City Youth Brass Band, he has been guest conductor at high school honors bands in Pennsylvania and New York, and was engaged to conduct the Salt River Brass for performances in 2004.

Along with his wife, Krista, he founded the Trinity Concert Series, a successful recital series, held in their church, Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church, in Freeport, PA. To date, over twenty free concerts have been presented. 2013 will mark the ninth anniversary of the recital series.

Additionally, he works as producer and editing consultant for various recording projects.

Drew is a 2006 inductee into the Ford City (PA) Area Hall of Fame.


James Hatton

James Hatton studied cornet with Richard Marshall at the Royal Northern College Of Music and graduated in 2008.  While at music college he played with a number of brass bands but principally with Bactiguard Wire Brass where he often featured as both a cornet and trumpet soloist.  James has travelled around the world on tour and visited Norway, America and China to name but a few.  He began to play the trumpet as a second instrument while at the RNCM and featured as principle trumpet in the wind orchestra as well as being part of two CD recording which were done at the BBC studios in Manchester.  James completed his teacher training at Manchester Metropolitan University and the Royal Northern College of Music gaining a PGCE with Specialist Instrumental Teaching before working for Bolton Music Service and then moving to Guernsey as a Brass Teacher.  Since moving to Guernsey James joined the Guernsey Jazz Orchestra on lead trumpet and subsequently become the MD as well as appearing in all of the orchestras on the island.  James joined Guernsey Concert Brass on cornet in 2015 before taking up the baton in September 2016.  He also travels back to England to perform in brass band competitions with the world famous Wingates band and recently performed at the Royal Albert Hall at the National Finals.  James has recently gained employment at Jerudong International School in Brunei and is looking forward to moving to Borneo to live and work in September 2017. 

While at the RNCM James studied composition and arranging as well as 12 tone analysis which laid the foundation to his compositional style.  His earlier work was mostly for brass band but recently his work as a teacher has meant a lot of his work is geared towards education and a more varied instrumentation.


Edward Kennedy M.A. L.T.C.L. F.T.C.L. B.Teaching

Edward Kennedy was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland. He completed a Masters Degree in conducting at Salford University under professor David King and he has also completed degrees and other major music studies at the Queensland University of Technology and the University of Southern Queensland, Australia. Over the past 30 years, Edward has become highly respected as a successful cornet and trumpet player, band director, music educator, adjudicator, clinician, composer and arranger. Many of his works for wind band are highly acclaimed and have been published internationally by Alfred Music USA. Edward currently resides in Brisbane, Australia,


Adam DJ Taylor

Adam studied at the Junior Royal Northern College of Music and was a Foundation Scholar at the Royal College of Music in London, graduating in 2012.

As a trombonist, Adam has performed with a variety of ensembles on the stage, in recording, for live radio broadcast and for television. Adams orchestral experience includes multiple appearances with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, Northern Ballet, English National Opera and the Southbank Sinfonia. Adam was a member of Kensington Brass, a professional brass dectet based in London. A committed bander, Adam has vast experience playing throughout all sections with bands the country over. Adam is the current principal trombone of the world famous Wingates Band.

As a composer and arranger, Adams music has been heard across the globe in band rooms, on concert and contest stages, on CD, and on TV and radio broadcast. In 2012, Adam won the prestigious ‘Best New Composition’ award at the Brass in Concert competition at the Sage in Gateshead. In 2016 Adam arranged a program of Music for the brass section of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and In March 2017, the Wingates band (where Adam is Composer in Residence) will release a CD of Adam’s music.

In recent times Adam has taken up the baton sharing his love and energy for music with others. Adam has conducted and led rehearsals for the Symphonic Brass of the RCM, Wingates Band, Uppermill Band and the brass band at the Junior RNCM. Adam is excited at taking up his full time position with the Allerton Brass family, a group of wonderful individuals in a city very close to Adams heart.


Karen Unsworth

Full time secondary music teacher and Head of department at a Liverpool secondary school.   Karen graduated from Liverpool Hope University as a combined honours student in music and art in 1996.  After completing her PGCE Karen began secondary music teaching in 1997.  Karen is a highly-respected Euphonium / Baritone player and has played in many Northwest brass bands.  For the last fifteen years, along with her husband Mike, Karen has played with The Haydock Band

Composing and arranging music is a passion which has developed from creating small arrangements for school ensembles to now working on full concert works for brass bands.