A GROUP of musicians who had their first rehearsal less than four weeks before a national competition finished second.
The East Lothian Schools Brass Ensemble were among the entrants to the Brass Ensemble of the Year.
The online music competition is open to ensembles of up to 10 musicians, ages 18 and under, who regularly play together at school or in their local marching band. Each local authority, independent schools and groups may only submit one application.
The Senior Brass Ensemble of East Lothian, who finished behind the Stranraer Brass Ensemble in the competition, brought together nine of the best brass instruments from the county’s six secondary schools.
The newly formed band had their first rehearsal on March 16 and recorded their entry as part of the East Lothian Council Young Musician of the Year on April 2 at St Mary’s Parish Church in Haddington.
Jonathan Gawn, East Lothian Council Instrumental Music Service Team Leader, said: “This was our first ensemble project at authority level since the pandemic.
“It was a privilege to attend these rehearsals, under the expert guidance of IMS (Instrumental Music Service) instructor David Robb, and to watch the band’s confidence grow over the four weeks.
“We had full attendance at all four rehearsals and our young musicians really embraced this challenging program to achieve this great performance and result.”
Ensembles perform a contrasting two-piece program lasting no more than 10 minutes in total, which is submitted as an unedited video, with all participants performing in one venue at the same time.
The group performed two pieces: Renaissance Dances, by 16th century composer Tielman Susato, and Danny Boy.
In response to Renaissance Dances, the members of the jury – Arlene MacFarlane, Director of the Scottish Schools Orchestra Trust; John Wallace, head of the Music Education Partnership Group; and John Miller, former head of winds and percussion at the Royal Northern College of Music, praised the rich, warm sound with dynamic interest and consistent note lengths throughout.
The judges also praised the trombonist (Sula McDonald, in S6 at Preston Lodge High School), who performed Danny Boy’s solo line, saying “she did it so well”.
The band’s tuba player, Jamie McDonald, also a S6 pupil at Prestonpans Secondary School, recently represented East Lothian as a tuba player in the National Youth Concert Band.
Mr Gawn added: “It is great to see our authority represented at this national level and I hope Jamie inspires others to audition and get involved in the years to come.
“We are already looking forward to next year’s brass ensemble competition.”