California dreaming as McKenzie takes NABBC title back to USA

American conductor Craig McKenzie claims the National Association of Brass Band Conductors Conductor Competition title after a high quality battle of the batons.

  The American conductor Craig McKenzie took the title

The American conductor Craig McKenzie has claimed the 4th National Association of Brass Band Conductors Conductor Competition title.

The high quality event at Eccles Town Hall saw entrants from across the UK and Europe lock batons in pursuit of the title, but it was the Californian who triumphed and secure the opportunity to work with the likes of National Champion Foden's and European Champion Cory in the future.


Craig McKenzie told 4BR: "I was delighted to be able to be a part of the phenomenal brass band tradition here in the UK, and it was such a thrill to have the opportunity to conduct the talented Rainford and Eccles Borough Bands. I was both humbled and awed to win."

Craig faced stiff competition from the 11 rivals, including runner-up Bjørn Breistein from Norway and third placed Daniel McLaughlin from the UK.

The other finalists were Matt Green (UK), Pascal Maillard (France) and Luke Pallister (UK), whilst the semi-finalist line-up consisted of Andrea Durante (Italy), Dexter Drown (UK), Robert Fraser (UK), Mark Good (UK), Patrick Marshall (UK) and Andy Wareham (UK).

Very impressed

After judging alongside Mark Heron, Paul Hindmarsh told 4BR: "We were very impressed by the overall standard and delighted to support the NABBC in discovering and developing talented conductors worldwide."

He added: "It was fantastic to see such an international entry, with the winner Craig MacKenzie coming over from California.

He's already very experienced conducting school and college wind bands and we hope that the growing brass band community in the USA makes use of his well honed skills and musicianship."

I was delighted to be able to be a part of the phenomenal brass band tradition here in the UK, and it was such a thrill to have the opportunity to conduct the talented Rainford and Eccles Borough BandsCraig McKenzie

Superb job

In response to the success of the event NABBC President Russell Gray thanked Yamaha for their support and added: "I was delighted with how smoothly the competition ran, with team at the NABBC doing a superb job.

Both bands gave every contender a wonderful platform to showcase their skills. The international appeal this competition has and the fact that we have conductors re-applying each year tells me we are doing something of importance to help the brass band movement throughout the world."

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