Russell Gray has told 4BR that he is "honoured"to have been voted '4BR Conductor of the Year' after a 2022 in which he worked with "so many fabulous musicians".
4BR managed to catch up with the Scotsman after he returned home from Lithuania after completing his final trip in what has been both a busy and hugely successful year — including contest successes in leading Foden's to a second successive National Championship victory and Brighouse & Rastrick to the Brass in Concert title.
"I'm honoured to receive the award — one that is regarded so highly by people in the brass banding world. It's been a very busy year for me, and I've been very fortunate to have worked with so many fabulous musicians and friends."
He added: "Being asked to make music with people is a very privileged position to be in and I thank them for helping me create some very memorable performances throughout the year. They do all the hard work — and a special mention of course to Mareika and Angus who give me unwavering support."
Russell returned in time to spend Christmas with his family after working on what is a two-year project with conductors in Lithuania, with the final 'Aukstyn Christmas Concert' taking place on the 18th December.
The project is being jointly implemented by the local Panevezys District Municipality together with the Norwegian Cultural School 'Voss Kulturskule' with various European agency backing, and saw a brass band composed of the conducting delegates and local players perform works for an appreciative audience.
Russell added: "There were 15 young conductors taking part — each now with a clearer understanding of what conducting a brass band is all about. These included motivated youngsters, experienced choir conductors, organists, village chapel leaders, even a masters degree musician."
The Scotsman was joined by Norway conductors Oddvar Nøstdal and Bjørn Breistein for what is a blueprint of the successful Voss tutoring method to educate future leaders of musical ensembles.
Speaking about the success of the project, Remigijus Vilys told 4BR: "Our congratulations go to Russell for this most deserved award. His expertise and leadership have been inspirational here with us."
Russell is now taking the time to recharge his batteries before heading into what promises to be an equally busy, and hopefully successful 2023 with trips to Europe, America and Australia in addition to his UK commitments.