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International Brass Band Summer School

Conductor: Prof Nicholas Childs
Soloists: Gary Curtin, Richard Marshall
Fulton House
Swansea University
Friday 4th August

The success of the International Brass Band Summer School is based on a triptych of hard work, top class tuition and plenty of fun - led from the front by the indefatigable Course Director Prof Nicholas Childs. 

Now in its 27th year, the ethos permeates each musical day led by the Black Dyke MD at Swansea University.

You don’t manage to attract 125 players from all corners of the globe (including their first from Taiwan, a 97 year old cornetist and members of the newly crowned European champions) without knowing how to challenge, engage, enjoy and inspire.  

Style and substance

Good PR also means that the end of course concert also attracts the locals in numbers; with an expectant crowd sat in their seats as the first of the two evenly split ensembles made their nimble, well-balanced way through an eclectic mix of repertoire that contrasted style as well as substance. 

You don’t manage to attract 125 players from all corners of the globe (including their first from Taiwan, a 97 year old cornetist and members of the newly crowned European champions) without knowing how to challenge, engage, enjoy and inspire.  

With the warm rays of a lazy early evening sun streaming through the windows, the Sovereign Band made short work of ‘Star Wars’, ‘The Marriage of Figaro’, ‘Streamline Peaks’ and ‘The Final Voyage’, with featured soloist Gary Curtin delivering a fizz bomb ‘Bravura’ and the featured solo lines in the band played with an admirable level of self-expression and confidence throughout.

Friendly rivalry

A sense of friendly rivalry also plays it part, as after a short break a determined Prestige Band set out their stall with polished takes on ‘633 Squadron’, ‘Festive Overture’, ‘Road to Run’ and ‘To Boldy Go’, whilst Richard Marshall delivered a deliciously capricious ‘Zelda’ in their solo feature. The ensemble work throughout was detailed and warm, with all the main solo lines delivered with aplomb. 

Joie de vivre

The finale came with a massed band display of musical joie-de-vivre: a swaggering ‘Death of Glory’ march followed by the warmly hued hymn ‘Lloyd’, a perky bit of fun with ’76 Trombones’ and a turbo boosted ‘Lohengrin’ that would have trembled the foundations of Bayreuth Opera House let alone the windows of the local Bed & Breakfasts on Swansea Bay seafront. 

‘The Lost Chord’ encore was as tasty a finisher as a scoop of Chocolate Chip deliciousness from the local Verdi’s ice-cream parlour.  No wonder bookings for 2018 are already being taken.

Iwan Fox



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