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Encouraging Local Talent With Mead and McGhee

Sunday 28th October saw an early start (well maybe for students!) for dozens of upcoming brass musicians and composers from around the midlands as they headed over to Burton Town Hall for a free day of workshop fun and concert entertainment, hosted by Derwent Brass.

Entitled ‘A Brass Spectacular’, the day kicked off with a warm welcome by MD Keith Leonard to not only a hall full of students of varied ages, but also their tutor for the day, the famous euphonium virtuoso Steven Mead.  Steven guided the large group through a full routine, from the basics of stretching and breathing, to duet performances, right through to a rehearsed full band rendition of Jurassic Park for their spotlight in the culminating evening concert.

Steven Mead Derwent Brass Workshop

Following some hard work and a well deserved refreshment break, several students then had the opportunity to sit with the 2012 European Composers Champion Paul McGhee for an insight into the wonderful mind of a modern contemporary music writer. Paul, the band’s Contemporary Music Associate, took the students through examples of his thought process, harmonisation techniques, and effects used on his recently premiered Euphonium work Kjeden performed by Glenn van Looy and Manger at the 2012 BrassWind Festival. This then lead to some original work to be produced by two groups which sounded fantastic especially considering the time restrictions and was well supported by not only members of the band, but also the wonderful talent of Lucy Pankhurst.

Paul McGhee Derwent Brass Composers Workshop

“The workshop organised by Derwent Brass was a complete success and was a day that we would expect to be charged a great sum for, especially for the distinguished guests they arranged. Our thanks go to them for this exceptional day and we hope this may become part of their annual events.” (Spokesperson for Keele University)

Ultimately the day lead to a full evening concert featuring Derwent Brass, guest soloist Steven Mead and a performance by the workshop ensemble. Derwent Brass last performed with Steven Mead in 2001 and in this, their 20th anniversary, felt it was fitting to once again unite on stage for an evening of memorable music. Featured in the evening’s repertoire was the rousing Jubilee and Folk Festival,  stunning solo performances of Song, Symphonic Rhapsody, Fantaisie Originale, Recondita, and ‘Neath The Dublin Skies, all of the above rounded up with a crowd pleasing coupling of Vitae Aeternum encored by Birdland. Also well received in the programme, from the pen of Paul McGhee, was music from their 20th anniversary composition Episodes, Occurences & Interludes complimented by some effective lighting changes and the beautiful Karl Jenkins arrangement of Abide With Me alongside a big band set, and more.

Steven Mead Derwent BrassSteven Mead Derwent Brass"I really enjoyed teaming up with Derwent Brass to help them celebrate their 20th anniversary.  I am so impressed bySteven Mead Derwent Brass their organisation, planning and vision in putting together this special concert and the workshop which was enjoyed by so many. They are a great example of a band that has an excellent team spirit, a clear sense of direction and play very well indeed!” (Steven Mead)

Following the success of the day and positive questionnaire feedback given by the workshop attendees, Derwent Brass hope to organise a similar event in the future to encourage and inspire the up and coming musicians of the midlands area and beyond.

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