January news

Okay, well it appears that I have been very slack in keeping this up to date. I made a New Years resolution to be better than I was last year, but it seems as though I have had a massive fail…so am going to catch up, and from April onwards, will be keeping it up to date now I have my new iPhone (which I hate to admit that I like!), and can do it on the move…

So January was a hectic, exciting month. It started with friends and family, and ended with my birthday (which was the same day some ex-Liverpool player handed in a transfer request to LFC, not a good way to start my birthday. I have forgotten the player’s name now – I think he went to some small time London club…).

I had 2 deadlines to meet at the very start of the year, and I managed to meet them, although Christmas Day was spent writing the first of the two pieces, Fire in the Sky; a new work for Tomra Brass Band in Norway, which was commissioned by my good friends Stijn Berbe and Nick Ost. More on that in Febuary.

The second piece – Shine – is a new 12 minute work for tuba. The premiere was given at the RNCM Festival of Brass, where I was one of the featured composers, by Les Neish (who commissioned the piece) and Grimethorpe Band, conducted by Howard Evans.

A trip to Belgium followed for a new piece commissioned by Brass Band Willebroek and Achel Fanfare Band – probably Belgium’s top two amateur (only in terms of finance, not in terms of standard that is for sure) bands, and there are many fantastic brass, fanfare and wind bands. Ad Astra was the name of the piece, and it was a kind of funked up Gershwin number, written whilst I was in America, and named after a very nice beer that was given to me in Kansas City!

The end of the month felt like the end of the world as Fernando Torres displayed properties that Judas would have been proud of and headed south for Chelski, and my years on this earth ticked over from 30 to a rather unimpressive 31. However, it was my favourite weekend of the year – RNCM Festival of Brass, and this year I was honoured to be invited to the festival by the Artistic Director, Paul Hindmarsh, as a featured composer.

4 of my pieces were played: Dave Childs and Cory were in stunning form on Sparta – Dave really is something else, a true performer, but that combined with his skill on the euphonium is something to behold. One of the best performances of a piece I’ve ever had – flair!!!

Leyland and Philip Harper performed Macbeth in the Saturday morning concert, where my old college friends John Doyle and Ben Rapp performed the fiendish solo parts, on cornet and flugel respectively, brilliantly. Leyland are one of my favourite brass bands, and so it is always great when they play a piece of mine, especially when your friends play as well as they did!

I’ve already mentioned the piece for Les Neish – Shine (an anagram of his name) – and he has recorded it with Wingates Band for release on CD later in the year. He’s another great performer – I think we must have had a really talented crop of performers at the RNCM whilst I was there. So many of them are professionals now – many of them amazing soloists. It makes the gig better when you can have a great performance, enjoy a pint with the soloist and catch up on old times all at once!

But perhaps my favourite concert of the weekend was Fodens band. The whole concert was stunning – Jim Gourlay is at his best with music as good as they played that night – but they performed my Epitaph (for Hillsborough), and it was perfect. Not just the playing, but the atmosphere, and everything about it. It’s after weekends such as this I realise just how lucky I am.

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