The award winning A4 Brass Quartet brought a theme of musical inspiration to the students of the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire this week as they both adjudicated and performed at the annual Bernard Brown Brass Ensemble Prize competition.
The group consisting of Jonathan Bates, Jamie Smith, Michael Cavanagh and Chris Robertson were certainly impressed by what they had heard from the five student ensembles finalists, each of who had to present a 15-minute programme of repertoire.
The eventual winners were 'The Woodmen', (above with the A4 Brass Quartet) who in authentic student tradition were named after the local pub they drink in.
The trombone quartet of two fourth year undergraduates, Dan Price and Ashley Nayler, and third year colleagues Toby Carr and Zac Fellows claimed the substantial cash prize thanks to a stylistically varied set that included excellent renditions of 'Pastime with Good Company' (with Zac also playing side drum), 'Suite for Four Trombones' by Flor Peeters and Tommy Pederson's 'The Nabobs Knuckle'.
"The standard from each of the finalists was excellent, and gave us a hard decision to make" the A4 Brass Quartet later told 4BR.
"It was good to hear so much variety and the sense of ambition in the repertoire. It was a reminder of what we were striving to achieve only a few years ago.
Our congratulations go to all the ensembles who really stepped up to the mark, and to the very impressive winners."
It was good to hear so much variety and the sense of ambition in the repertoire. It was a reminder of what we were striving to achieve only a few years agoA4 Brass Quartet
Later the students returned to hear the A4 Brass Quartet in action at the Conservatoire's Bradshaw Hall as they gave an inspiring performance that included 15 items of original and arranged repertoire presented with a level of polished professionalism that in the last year has also seen them claim prestigious ensemble awards of their own, including the Royal Overseas League and Royal Philharmonic Ensemble prizes.
Reflecting on the successful event, Royal Birmingham Conservatoire Head of Brass, Amos Miller told 4BR. "It's been an excellent day, with the students showcasing their emerging talents and topped by an outstanding concert given by the A4 Brass Quartet."