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Other News about Fine Arts Brass

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See our Out and About page for recent photos of FAB
...and here's some older news

Listen out for us on BBC Radio 2 later this month
Dec 19th and Dec 26th
BBC Radio 2 are set to feature us twice in December. You'll be able to hear us on the Sunday Half Hour show on December 19th as part of a special recording made in Coventry Cathedral on November 29th. The show features the BBC Radio 2 choristers for 2010, Blake, St Michael's Singers and Fine Arts Brass. You'll also be able to hear us on Aled Jones' Good Morning Sunday Show on Boxing day.

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Another just around the corner.....
Hot on the heels of our joint West Lothian School’s Brass Band release we will also soon be heard on a new CD with the choir of St Mary’s Church, Warwick. Strengthening a long association with St Mary’s, we undertook a recording session last March to record Langlais’ ‘Missa Salve Regina’ with the choir and their director Thomas Corns. This CD is due for release before the end of 2010. Watch this space for more details.

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A busy end to 2009
Katy writes.......
5th December: Winchester Cathedral

It was a busy Saturday in Winchester, in the lead up to Christmas, but once we had got parked (not as easy as it sounds!), we could escape into the cathedral for some fantastic music making with Andrew Lumsden and the Waynflete Singers. It was a return visit for us, and the cathedral congregation was in for a seasonal treat of music from the 16th to the 21st century. Naji Hakim’s Jesu Redemptor Omnium was a personal highlight, as this piece was written for our previous visit in 2005.

12th December: Guildford Cathedral

This time, the challenge wasn’t so much finding a parking space, as just getting there in the first place. A major incident on the M40 meant that the entire percussion section arrived at 4.30pm having left Birmingham at 8.30am! This left rehearsal time limited, but as they say- the show must go on! Katherine Dienes-Williams and her vibrant cathedral choirs put together an interesting and entertaining programme for a packed Guildford Cathedral. Fine Arts Brass was once again in its extended form, mainly for the Jonathan Willcocks Magnificat, which is scored for 9 brass ad 3 percussion. Many Thanks to Katherine and her choirs for putting on a fantastic concert and for getting us all into the Christmas spirit!

15th -20th December: Hannover, Germany

We flew out of Stansted on the evening of the 15th December ready for a morning rehearsal on the 16th with the NDR Symphony Orchestra. If we thought it was cold in the UK, we were in for a shock when we got to Germany!

We were greeted before the rehearsal by Howard Griffiths, who is an old friend of Fine Arts Brass, though the last time we teamed up was back in 1998 in Zurich. He was incredibly welcoming and enthusiastic about our appearance-pretty reassuring for 5 people used to being in the brass section at the back of an orchestra. It takes some getting used to for the string players too, having us so close! They weren’t too keen at first, but I think we won them round eventually……

The first 2 concerts featured the Vivaldi Double Trumpet Concerto in the first half, played by Fine Arts Brass trumpeters, Simon and Angela. This was a real treat for the German audience, because when 2 musicians know each others playing so well, it makes for incredible intuitive phrasing and nuances. The second half featured the quintet as a whole, and lightened the mood with some of Simon’s witty Christmas arrangements for quintet and orchestra and the whole concert was relayed as live on German radio.

German audiences are renowned for being quite reserved, and yet we were bowled over by their applause and their kind words to us on our way out of the concert hall. Two anonymous audience members even paid for our dinner in the restaurant that night, simply because they had enjoyed the concert so much!

On Sunday the 20th December we played two Childrens Concerts, which featured the quintet much more heavily. We were delighted to be able to play Malvern Chase again, the piece written by previous Fine Arts Brass horn player, Stephen Roberts. A particularly fine local brass group of 12-18 year olds added to the forces for this performance.

By now, temperatures had dropped to about -10C and we had to get a train to the other side of Berlin in time for our rehearsal the next morning with the Brandenburgisches Staatsorchester. Luckily, being Germany the trains still ran, although with some delays, and we eventually got to Frankfurt Oder just after midnight. A 9.30am rehearsal saw some bleary eyes (the orchestra had also only got home at 1am after a concert in Berlin), but a very warm and friendly band who ‘got’ the musical jokes and seemed happy to have fun with the whole thing! We went to catch our plane home slightly worried about whether we would be snowbound in Berlin for Christmas, but excited by the prospect of returning to work with the orchestra over New Year.

28th -30th December

It was a short Christmas break for the group, as we had to do battle with more snow and ice to get to Bathgate, Scotland for our recording with Nigel Boddice and the West Lothian Schools Brass Band. This ensemble boasts Angela Whelan as one of its previous members, and the band certainly still has an incredible depth of talent. They did themselves proud as we managed to record Stephen Roberts: Malvern Chase Suite, and Peter Graham: Northern Landscapes for quintet and brass band, as well as some lighter extra tracks. Their impressive level of concentration, along with the expertise of John and Richard from Doyen in the box, meant that this was achieved in only 3 recording sessions! To think that the funding for an organisation such as this is in jeopardy is criminal, and we can only hope that this recording gives the council reason to be proud and to keep supporting this jewel in their crown.

31st December - 3rd January

Our return trip to work with the Brandenburgishes Staatsorchester started with a 2am start from home for a 4.30am check in at Stansted. Not exactly ideal preparation, but as soon as we got there, the warmth of the orchestra helped us get over our exhaustion and get through the rehearsal!

Our concerts were on the 1st January in Potsdam on the outskirts of Berlin, and the 2nd January in Frankfurt Oder, on the Polish border. These programmes featured the whole quintet in both halves, and the orchestra fully entered into the spirit of things, which was much appreciated. From Nellie’s Nutcracker to Can’t Take that Away from Me and Tiger Rag, they attacked everything with energy and a sense of humour-without which the jokes can fall somewhat flat!

Having said earlier that German audiences are renowned for being quite reserved, we were amazed to find ourselves receiving a standing ovation form a capacity audience of 2000 at the Nikolaisaal in Frankfurt Oder. It was quite incredible, and a highlight for all of us, however long our Fine Arts Brass Career!

18th January

As I write this we have just finished the final chapter of this patch of work, by recording the Suite from Love The Magician (El Amor Brujo) by De Falla, and the haunting melody of Farewell to Stromness by Peter Maxwell Davies. We have been wanting to record these pieces for some time, not least because they have been requested so many times after being heard at our concerts. We are delighted that Doyen agreed to record them for us to put onto the same disc we recorded with West Lothian Schools Brass Band, ‘Fabled’.

Until 21st April….

Unfortunately that is the start of a 3 month break for the quintet. This allows time for the CD to come out, Sam, Chris and I to return to our orchestral jobs in London, Simon to continue with his house extension, and Angela to have a baby! I am sure that everyone will want to wish Simon and Angela the best of luck with their new arrival, due in march.

The quintet will be back in action for a return visit to the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama on the 21st April. Maybe we will see you there!

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FAB & The NDR Radiophilharmonie
We shall be appearing with the NDR Radiophilharmonie in four concerts over the Christmas period in Hannover where the orchestra are based. The conductor of the concerts will be Howard Griffiths - an old friend of Fine Arts Brass and this collaboration will be the first in ten years as the last time we teamed up with Howard was back in 1998 with some concerts with the Zurich Chamber Orchestra. The concerts are the centrepiece of the NDR’s Christmas season and take place on the 17th, 18th and 20th of December. The programme’s will feature many new arrangements especially written for the concerts together with some Fine Arts Brass classic Christmas repertoire including I Saw Mommy Kissing Frosty the Tuba, Swingle Bells and Paganini violin showpiece arranged for FAB: Moto Perpetuo.

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FAB in Germany.....again
but with a different orchestra this time
We shall be returning to Germany a few weeks after our NDR debut for some New Year themed concerts but this time with the Brandenburgisches Staatsorchester in Frankfurt and Potsdam (Berlin). As will be expected the programmes will include much music by the Strauss family as well as the classic overtures 'The Barber of Seville' and 'William Tell' by Rossini.

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