Plenty of bands and soloists gave concerts and recitals at various events and venues during 2016, but these where the five (in date order) that stood out for us — and not just for the brilliance of the playing.
RNCM Brass and Festival
Sunday 31st January
A simply awe inspiring display of musicality encapsulating works by Beethoven, Stojowski, Mahler, Deparc, Dobson and Pryor.
A remarkable musician: The first four notes of Mahler's 'Urlicht' from 'Das Knaben Wunderhorn' were as close to perfection as you could ever wish to hear.
European Youth Band
European Youth Championship
Sunday 1st May
An absolute jam-packed dollop of fun inspired by Dutch conductor Erik Janssen and a multi-lingual set of players who were a credit to themselves, their bands and their nation's of origin.
A disappointing contest day (the organisers meanly charged the players to come in and listen) was forgotten as they delivered a stomping set that culminated in the entire audience (let in for free for the results) on their feet doing a European version of the conga around the hall to the sounds of Thrift Shop's rather fruity pop song.
Regent Hall, London
Friday 7th October
Foden's inspired by Bramwell Tovey. A combination that has produced some of the most memorable concerts of recent years delivered another absolute bobby dazzler at Regent Hall — and all less than 24 hours before they took to the stage at the Albert Hall at the Nationals.
Perhaps they had a point to prove to both themselves and their critics — and by heck didn't they do just that and more.
Super Slow Way: A Rhapsody to the Leeds & Liverpool Canal
King Georges Hall, Blackburn
Sunday 16th October
A reminder of just how important, as well inspiring, investment in an ambitious community based musical project can be — especially with a brass band right at the heart of it.
At times simple and reflective, at others colourful and exotic. Like its inspiration, it was deliberately slow and meandering, with the focus always headed in the same direction. A triumph for everyone involved.
Big Fat Brass
Royal College of Music Brass Ensemble
Featuring: Mike Lovatt and Matthias Hofs
Royal College of Music
Wednesday 19th October
Stunning: Simply, bloody well stunning. Two performers touched by genius, backed by a splendid ensemble.
This was about style — oh my word it was. Those lucky enough to be there went home with smiles on their faces like Cheshire Cats. The 4BR Editor's didn't wear off until he reached Newport train station back in Wales.