Earlier this month, I returned home to Melbourne from my 5 month exchange from Manchester, and what a whirlwind 5 months it has been for me musically and overall! It will be difficult to summarise the last couple of months in a single post, but read below to find out what I experienced and what new music I've written!
I had always heard that it is a true experience to see the world's finest brass bands in the flesh, and they sure were right. I made sure not to miss any opportunity to see Britain and Europe's top bands perform while I was there. On my first weekend, I enjoyed the RNCM Festival of Brass, where I heard for the first time some of the world's top bands including Cory Band and Black Dyke. I attended both the North West and Yorkshire 2018 Regionals, as well as the Spring Festival. I saw Cory in concert in May in Cardiff and attended a Black Dyke Band rehearsal in preparation for their premiere performance of Philip Wilby's "Cinema".
Perhaps the biggest highlight would have to be the European Brass Band Championships in Utrecht, where Valaisia Brass took the title of best European Band, followed by Cory and Stavanger. It was something special to be in a hall filled with fellow brass supporters who eagerly wanted to see fantastic performance after another, which the bands did not fail to provide.
I joined the local Hazel Grove Brass Band, who were a mere 1 minute walk from where I was living. We competed at the North West Brass Band Championships in the 2nd Section, as well as the Saddleworth Whit Friday Marches. It was incredible to walk into a band hall on the other side of the world, and feel like I was in the band hall back home (bar the well rounded British accents of course!).
At university, I filled the all-important 2nd baritone chair in both the Salford University Brass Band and Adelphi Brass Band, enjoying an experience away from the familiar Eb Bass territory. Playing alongside some absolute star players was a special experience, and we had the opportunity to play some high standard music many bands wouldn't dare to attempt, including George Lloyd's "English Heritage", Gilbert Vinter's "James Cook, Circumnavigator" and Stan Nieuwenhuis' "A King's Lie". I think the 4 morning rehearsals a week across both bands will be a part of my exchange experience I will miss dearly, because of the amicability amongst the players and willingness to grow as players was unlike many other bands I've played with.
I did go to Manchester mostly to grow as a composer/arranger, and I feel like my writing style is now much more refined, and I look forward to writing some fantastic new music.
I saw success on a new composition "Just Cause", which was announced as the Runner-Up in the 2018 A4 Brass Quartet Composition Competition. A recording by the A4 Quartet has been uploaded to my Soundcloud, and I am now selling the score on my store. It has already received its premiere in Wales, and is expected to be performed across Europe in the near future, including Lithuania and Finland.
Some other unpublished works include a brand new sacred item arrangement which is due for release in July (keep your eyes peeled for clues on Facebook across June!), a short concert work commissioned to celebrate a Victorian band's 90th Year Anniversary, a tuba solo with piano accompaniment which will be published very soon and a top section entertainment work for full brass band. Feel free to email me if any of those are of interest and you want to be the first to hear of their publication!
My mentors within Salford University and beyond in Manchester are the people that really made my exchange worth every cent. I received composition tutelage of some form from Dan Price, Tom Davoren, Peter Graham, Robin Dewhurst and Paul Mealor on my works for brass band, brass ensemble and brass solos. Their feedback and advice has been really informative, and I am sure it will guide my music writing for many years to come.
I had a blast of a time, and I am sure I will be back to Manchester and the United Kingdom, hopefully with more music to share with Europe. For now though, I'm back into the swing of Melbourne music making and my studies at Monash. I'll keep the music coming your way!
Thank you to everyone from Melbourne, Manchester and beyond for all your support.
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Jared loves to share his passion for music and artists through music reviews and commentaries. These include a selection of reviews written for community radio stations 3MBS and Radio Monash.