Praise For Brass Aces

Isle of Man Examiner, Readers Write Section

SIR - I have been on holiday in the Island for an recent fortnight staying with my sister in Douglas, something I do on a regular basis.

Over the years I have followed with interest the fortunes of the Manx Youth Band and, since its formation in 1995, its senior band, Manx Concert Brass, both under the leadership of Ian Clague.

Last year I was fortunate enough to attend the gala concert at the Villa Marina and was amazed at the quality of the playing from both bands, the professionalism of the show they put on and the stunning finale of their performance of Riverdance and the light show that accompanied it. I remember thinking at that time that one could have paid a lot of money and not have seen a better show in the West End of London.

Only two years after their formation, Manx Concert Brass became British champions and I believe are now feared among their closest competitors in the north-west of England. I had heard this from my friends but until I heard them perform at the gala concert I just didn't realise how awesome they actually are! At that time I was tempted to write but never did get round to it.

On Sunday, April 26, I was fortunate enough to be able to watch the brass bands competing in the test piece at the Manx Music Festival in the Royal Hall at the Villa Marina, followed immediately afterwards by the entertainments section, 25 minutes of their own choice of music. I have to say, and this is primarily the reason I am writing, that when I heard the Manx Youth Band perform I couldn't believe my ears.

They were so together, loud when they had to be, quiet when they had to be, in time, and were able to express the feeling in the music. This is even more remarkable when you consider that on the formation of Manx Concert Brass, the Manx Youth Band became a much younger band overnight.

It is a testament to the way in which Mr. Clague has brought up these youngsters. Give them another couple of years and, like their mentors Manx Concert Brass, they will be winning everything in sight.

I don't really think that people realise in general how versatile brass bands can be these days, playing everything from traditional brass pieces to acid house music.

Finally I would like to add that the Isle of Man is extremely luck to have organisations like the Manx Youth Band and people like Mr. Clague, who give up their time to theach these youngsters. I would advise any parents out there that if their youngsters show any interest at all in music to get them into brass banding.

It is a great pity that the Department of Tourism has failed to recognise this and one of the saddest occasions for me was when they cancelled the Brass Band Festival which took place on the Island every year.

So I would encourage the people of the Island to support all their brass bands wherever they are playing. If you ever get the chance to see the Manx Youth Band or Manx Concert Brass, or even the two of them together, don't hesitate to go. You will be glad you did. I will certainly be making every effort to come to the Island for their gala concert in July.

James Edward Stuart