13 February 2019

Today we welcomed a young professional brass quartet to the school to work with a good number of our brass players in the afternoon and to give a recital in the evening. The Quartet Menine members met at Manchester University and the Royal Northern College of Music and are now based in London, with several studying on the Masters in Performance course at the Royal Academy of Music. The connection with Abingdon was made through William Padfield, the horn player in the ensemble, who was once a pupil of Mike Windsor when he was Headmaster at Reading Blue Coat School.

The afternoon workshop and masterclass proved to be a hugely enjoyable and successful learning experience for all involved. The young professionals knew exactly what to work on and we had the support of our Head of Piano, Lynette Stulting and two of our brass team, Nigel Somerville and Andy Townsend, our Bandmaster.

In the afternoon we heard a wide range of players – six trumpets, three trombones, a horn, a baritone and two tuba players in a wide range of repertoire from 16C Susato to 20C Vaughan Williams and from James Bond to modern funk. We also heard two ensembles – a septet of brass players from Lower School and the Senior Brass Quintet, with Arthur Boulton on tuba, nimbly standing in for James Daly, who had a football match! This was a really instructive and inspiring experience, as the photographs make plain.

The evening concert showed this virtuosic young brass quartet in fine form in a wide range of music, mostly arrangements of classical works and some pieces written specifically for them. The zany humour and the fine playing was inspiring for the good sized audience in the Amey Theatre.

This was a great occasion, much enjoyed and we hope that the Quartet Menine will return to Abingdon for a similar event in the future.

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