Allan Withington is currently leading delegates through their conducting paces and artistic senses on what is his 11th Conducting Summer School in Leeuwarden in The Netherlands.
This year's course is inspired by the 'fragrance of music' — a theme that sees the delegates explore the five senses of sight, sound, taste, touch and smell in a typically inventive approach that has been Allan's hallmark over this own conducting career — Els Meijer, a dancer and physio student, and Aaltje Atsma, a professional translator and medium.
Fragrance of music
He told 4BR: "The course is called 'Fragrance of Music', as some people claim they really can do this. This phenomenon is known as 'Synesthesia', and it refers to the way certain people perceive reality differently.
Specifically, this is a condition wherein the triggering of one sense — in this case, your hearing can trigger another sense simultaneously, such as smell or taste.
This what we have been exploring over the week, helped by experts in the field and six talented conductors who have been eager to explore and understand the phenomenon."
The delegates enjoying the unique experience have certainly found it a hugely enjoyable week of intensive work which will culminate on Thursday evening with an open air concert in the city centre featuring Soli Brass, where each will conduct two works on which they have worked.
Alexander Richter from Germany has been conducting Brass Band BlechKLANG for the past 14 years and has just led them to the Second Section German National title, whilst Jamie Hood has gained widespread experience from playing in Scotland to being a Divisional Music Director with the Salvation Army and adjudicator, USA and for the past year or so in Switzerland.
Jamie told 4BR: "It's been a wonderful experience that has literally tested all the senses. I'm sure everyone like me has benefited hugely from the experience."
This what we have been exploring over the week, helped by experts in the field and six talented conductors who have been eager to explore and understand the phenomenonAllan Withington
Oliver Mauny from Nice in the south of France conducts Brass Band Mediterranean, with the members of the band raising the funds to allow him to make the trip to Leeuwarden as a 40th birthday present and to thank him for developing the band over the past 5 years.
Although Jan Muller is the youngest conductor on the course, he perhaps has the most experience, having conducted three bands at First and Second Section level in Switzerland since the age of 17.
He said: "Coming here has given me a huge boost of confidence — confidence I will take back with me to hopefully benefit my bands."
Meanwhile, Tony Backes from Belgium is hoping to use the experience of the course to help develop the brass band movement in the east of his country — one where bands are present but have not traditionally competed in contests.
Rob Jacobs from the Netherlands is a fanfare band and choir conductor and is hoping to develop his brass band conducting skills further.