Fantastic playing opportunities on offer with Downshire Brass

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Four key positions have become available in the band, available from September 2019:

  • Front-row cornet (x2)

  • Tenor Trombone

  • Bass Eb or Bb

These are key roles in the band and we are looking for talented, enthusiastic individuals who can rise to the challenge of performing with one of Northern Ireland’s top bands.

2019/20 will be a busy year, with high-profile concerts, contests and a trip to Lithuania in May 2020 to represent Northern Ireland at the European Brass Band championships.

The band will also be celebrating its 30th anniversary next year, with some very special events in the pipeline.

Downshire Brass rehearses on Monday and Thursday from 8pm - 10pm at Malone Presbyterian Church Halls which is easily accessible to all parts of the city as well as many parts of Northern Ireland.

Confidential enquiries can be made to Musical Director, Michael Alcorn on 07515 650597 or Band Chair, Robert Mercer on 07597 684148.

Open rehearsal in partnership with LefreQue

Downshire is teaming up with the Dutch company LefreQue on Thursday 18th April in a workshop which is open to other brass bands and players.  This is your chance to try out the unique LefreQue sound bridge on your instrument and to hear the positive impact that it has on your tone.  Our very own solo euphonium player, Jonny Sproule is a LeFreQue Artist and will be on hand that evening along with Staff from LefreQue who will be helping with the demonstration. 

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Much of the evening will be focused on playing passages from the amazing test piece ‘Fraternity’ by Thierry Deleruyelle.

The rehearsal will take place at St Nicholas Church Hall, Lisburn Road from 8pm - 10pm.


Please get in touch by emailing on info@downshirebrass.com if you are interested in coming along.

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Player Vacancies

Downshire Brass is seeking to recruit a cornet and trombone player to join the band. Our championship section band offers a good mix of contest, concert, and recording work and welcomes players who are estabished or up-and-coming.  We enjoy excellent attendance at rehearsals and have a steady schedule of events lined up over the next year.  The band is currently the NIBA Champions and over the next twelve months we will be gearing up towards our participation in the 2020 Euros in Palanga, Lithuania. 

The band rehearses on Mondays and Thursdays from 8.00pm - 10.00pm in Malone Presbyterian Church Halls, Lisburn Road, Belfast.  If you are interested in joining this ambitious group or would like more information, then please contact Michael Alcorn (Musical Director) or Robert Mercer (Chairperson) via vacancies@downshirebrass.com or Robert on 07597 684148.

Youth Band Success

The Brass Band League Solos and Ensembles contest brought a number of successes for our young players in Downshire Youth Band.

Seventeen players from the band took part in the competition on 16th February 2019 in the 10 & Under, 12 & Under and 15 & Under classes and each one of them played extremely well in their chosen pieces. Stand-out performances by James Campbell (cornet) secured a second prize in the 10 & under section, and 1st and 2nd prizes in the 12 & under section went to Harrison Kirk (cornet) and Daniel Quinn (trombone).

At the end of the youth sections the competition Adjudicator, Les Neish, announced that the award for the most promising player would go to 9 year-old Holly Wilson from Downshire Youth Band. Holly has only been playing for 4 1/2 months and she’s already shaping up to be a ‘chip off the old block’…

Well done to all of the other participants and prizewinners!

Harrison Kirk (winner of the 12 & Under class) & Holly Wilson (winner of the John Patton Shield)


Youth Band Success

The Brass Band League Solos and Ensembles contest brought a number of successes for our young players in Downshire Youth Band.

Seventeen players from the band took part in the competition on 16th February 2019 in the 10 & Under, 12 & Under and 15 & Under classes and each one of them played extremely well in their chosen pieces. Stand-out performances by James Campbell (cornet) secured a second prize in the 10 & under section, and 1st and 2nd prizes in the 12 & under section went to Harrison Kirk (cornet) and Daniel Quinn (trombone).

At the end of the youth sections the competition Adjudicator, Les Neish, announced that the award for the most promising player would go to 9 year-old Holly Wilson from Downshire Youth Band. Holly has only been playing for 4 1/2 months and she’s already shaping up to be a ‘chip off the old block’…

Well done to all of the other participants and prizewinners!

Harrison Kirk (winner of the 12 & Under class) & Holly Wilson (winner of the John Patton Shield)


Downshire Junior, Youth and Senior Bands in Concert

Malone Presbyterian Church Halls were the location for Downshire's annual summer concert on 25th June 2018 featuring our Junior, Youth and Senior Bands.

The three bands performed an entertaining programme of 14 pieces including four new arrangements by Roger Doherty for the Junior Band and works new to the Youth Band including "Prismatic Light" and a selection of pieces from the movie "Happy Feet".

The senior bands pieces included the trombone trio "Blue Moon", "Penny Lane" and the "Music from the Incredibles". The performances offered by the junior and youth bands in particular were outstanding and our youth team have been overwhelmed by the positive and encouraging comments from parents and other audience members alike. Our Chairperson, Paul Kirk thanked Downshire’s enthusiastic youth team for giving of their time freely throughout the year and also thanked parents for their support in sending their children to band each Monday night. He commented on how the junior and youth groups had developed rapidly over the course of the year and that they were a credit to the local brass music scene.  

A highlight of this annual event is the award of trophies to young players in the junior and youth bands.  With such a strong level of performance and commitment from our young musicians, it is always a challenge to identify the recipients.  After much deliberation, it was agreed that the Sam Doherty Cup for Musical Endeavour should go to Jonathan Gillespie and  the Doreen Alcorn Cup for Outstanding Musical Contribution should be awarded to Harrison Kirk.  Congratulations both!  

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Downshire Brass will now be taking a break for a few weeks before launching into the rest of our summer concert and engagements then onwards to the forthcoming contest season.

Downshire Junior, Youth and Senior Bands in Concert

Malone Presbyterian Church Halls were the location for Downshire's annual summer concert on 25th June 2018 featuring our Junior, Youth and Senior Bands.

The three bands performed an entertaining programme of 14 pieces including four new arrangements by Roger Doherty for the Junior Band and works new to the Youth Band including "Prismatic Light" and a selection of pieces from the movie "Happy Feet".

The senior bands pieces included the trombone trio "Blue Moon", "Penny Lane" and the "Music from the Incredibles". The performances offered by the junior and youth bands in particular were outstanding and our youth team have been overwhelmed by the positive and encouraging comments from parents and other audience members alike. Our Chairperson, Paul Kirk thanked Downshire’s enthusiastic youth team for giving of their time freely throughout the year and also thanked parents for their support in sending their children to band each Monday night. He commented on how the junior and youth groups had developed rapidly over the course of the year and that they were a credit to the local brass music scene.  

A highlight of this annual event is the award of trophies to young players in the junior and youth bands.  With such a strong level of performance and commitment from our young musicians, it is always a challenge to identify the recipients.  After much deliberation, it was agreed that the Sam Doherty Cup for Musical Endeavour should go to Jonathan Gillespie and  the Doreen Alcorn Cup for Outstanding Musical Contribution should be awarded to Harrison Kirk.  Congratulations both!  

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Downshire Brass will now be taking a break for a few weeks before launching into the rest of our summer concert and engagements then onwards to the forthcoming contest season.

Downshire Treading the Boards

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On the morning of Wednesday 21st March, 5 members of Downshire Brass arrived at the MAC, Belfast to begin rehearsals for two performances of Gary Clarke’s award winning dance theatre show COAL which looks back at the realities of life at the coal face during the 1980s. 
The quintet shared the stage with professional dancers and four women from the local community - it was an opportunity to do something very different that none of the band members or women had experienced before. Rehearsals were intense and performances emotionally charged, receiving a standing ovation on Thursday.

All five members of Downshire thoroughly enjoyed the experience and would like to say a huge thank you to all the cast and crew of COAL for making them feel so welcome and especially to Steven Roberts, Musical Director for his guidance and encouragement over the two days. 
Wishing every success to Gary and the rest of the COAL team for their final performances in Brighton before heading oversees later in the year.

Cornet Opportunities

Downshire Brass is currently seeking to recruit TWO experienced cornet players to join our front row. Our friendly band offers a good mix of contest, concert, and recording work and welcomes players both young and old. We enjoy excellent attendance at rehearsals and have a steady schedule of events lined up over the next year.

The band rehearses on Mondays and Thursdays from 8.00pm - 10.00pm in Malone Presbyterian Church Halls, Lisburn Road, Belfast. If you are interested in joining this ambitious group or would like more information, then please contact Michael Alcorn (Musical Director) and Paul Kirk (Chairperson) via vacancies@downshirebrass.com or Paul on 07380 485309.

Greetings from Australia! Liz Doyle remembers her time in Downshire Brass

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Now back living in Australia, Liz recalls her year with the band:  

"My Northern Ireland adventures began in 2012 when I accepted a work contract and found myself getting off the ferry in sunny Larne.

Not knowing much at all about Northern Ireland, my first aim – after getting to Belfast - was to find the local brass band! After a short search I came across Downshire Brass and was welcomed heartily.

I fondly remember the weekly rehearsals sitting in the tuba section, and having the opportunity to attend some rather eclectic gigs at schools, fairs and contests, and I also tagged along and joined some of the band at a 12th July Orange march (and yes, I made it onto youtube).  

I was also fortunate to come across an unofficial mentor in the late Harry Dalzell who was able to explain the cultural nuances of Northern Ireland, and through him, encouragement and participation in the July parades. I appreciated his stories, his infinite knowledge of the brass band music repertoire as well as his cultural explanations and conversation. Harry, and the rest of the band, also supported a humble tenor horn player adjust to E flat tuba!

One of the highlights of my time with the band was to participate in the premiere of Phillip Hammond’s piece, Requiem for the Lost Souls of the Titanic. This epic undertaking involved multiple choirs, ensembles, conductors and more than one sound/TV system, all set up in St Anne's Cathedral, Belfast. I don’t think I realized at the time the magnificence of this piece until I had a chance to listen to the recording, which I still have to this day.

Through Downshire and other various bands in the UK, I forged many friendships which I continue to treasure. I regularly keep in touch with banding friends across the UK and will fondly remember many an enjoyable and rather interesting playout. I also enjoy discussing and comparing competition results and pieces with what’s happening in the Australian Brass banding scene. Joining the local brass band such as Downshire enabled me to visit many parts of Northern Ireland as well as a great social environment-crucial for the solo traveler. I thank the Downshire crew for their hospitality and adventure during my 12 months in Northern Ireland and will be sure to return for a play one day!

Thanks Liz Doyle Melbourne, Australia"

Where are they now? Catching up with Jérémie Wawszczyk

Catching up with some of our members from far away locations who joined the band during their time in Belfast. 

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Jérémie Wawszczyk played with the band in 2012-13.  He recalls his time with the band as follows:  

"Back in 2012, my Erasmus exchange brought me to Belfast, where I had heard that brass bands like the one in the movie "Brassed Off" played. So I decided to take less stuff with me in my luggage so I could put my cornet in my suitcase!

Two days after my arrival in early September, I had found a room, which is a pretty easy thing to do in that city. I then started to look for a band. Downshire Brass was rehearsing on that night, so I called to know if I could join. That was a "yes". By the end of the evening I had my picture taken and a form sign to be recorded as a member of the North of Ireland Band Association. My first gig was on the next Sunday. It seemed like we spent most of the whole year working on tricky test pieces for the 5 contests that occurred that year. I remember especially two of these. One was an entertainment contest the venue for which was the Whitla Hall, and during which Michael had me playing the violin …!  I remember also the piece Richard Evans had us working on, and of course, the Irish National Championship that we won playing those two wonderful pieces, "Between the Two Rivers" and "Tallis Overture" !

I had a memorable time in Downshire and enjoyed being taught about the so called “Irish Craic”, and some of the experiences I have shared with the band I will share with my grandchildren sometime! I now live in Paris where I work as an architect and where I have joined the world of the “Fanfare Beaux Arts” which is less accurate on musical theory and more focused on funny costumes. I follow what Downshire is doing from the distance but I am sure I will have some occasion to play with them again."

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Flugelhorn Vacancy

Following recent personnel moves, Downshire Brass, one of Northern Ireland's top brass bands is currently seeking a flugelhorn player to join our ambitious Senior Band as we prepare for the forthcoming contesting season.

We are a thriving and friendly group of musicians who enjoy well-attended rehearsals and a manageable number of concert engagements and competitions. The Senior band meets on Monday and Thursday evenings 8pm-10pm at Malone Presbyterian Church Halls, Lisburn Road, Belfast.

If you are interested in the position or have any queries, please get in touch via direct message on our Facebook page or contact Paul on 0-7-8-6-7 8-3-1-3-2-7. All enquiries will be treated with the strictest confidence.

NIBA Contest 2017

On Saturday 14th October 2017, the members of Downshire Brass made their annual trip to Armagh for the NIBA Championship of Ireland Band Contest.  This year marked the 100th contest for the NIBA which made the event extra special.  Before the senior band took to the stage in the early evening, the youth band performed Malcolm Arnold’s ‘Little Suite for Brass’ just after lunch– and what a great job they made of a tricky piece! They were later announced as runners-up in the section following a splendid performance by the 1st Old Boys Youth Band.  Thank you to all the youth band parents for your support.

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After cheering on MD Michael Alcorn with Lourdes Brass Band and associate conductor Wesley Thompson with Comber Silver Band in the Second Grade Brass section, it was the turn of Downshire’s senior band who performed the set work ‘Salamander’ by John McCabe.   The band had been drawn to play first in the section and some members enjoyed a well-earned rest following the performance while others took the opportunity to listen to the other performances in the section.  Downshire was delighted to come away with 2nd place finish and most of the band headed back to Belfast for some light refreshments!

Many congratulations to all of the prize winners with a special mention to the 1st Old Boys Silver Band who will be representing Northern Ireland at the European Brass Band Championships in Montreux, Switzerland in 2019. 

As always, Downshire Brass would like to thank Michael for all of the work that went into preparing both bands for the contest; our guest players for the time and commitment they gave in the weeks leading up to the performance and to the NIBA Executive for another great contest day.  Finally, well done to all the bands participating in the contest this year, as mentioned on the day, it is great that we are celebrating 100 years of NIBA contesting!

Downshire has a busy few months ahead preparing for the Festival of Brass contest in November and lots of events over the Festive season.  Keep up-to-date with forthcoming events via the website or Facebook page!     

 

100th NIBA Championship of Ireland Band Contest Results

Fifth Grade / Unaffiliated
Stedfast Shoes Brass 168 points

Fourth Grade Brass
Poyntzpass Silver 171 points

Third Grade Brass
1-Wellington Memorial Silver 179 points
2-Dynamic Brass 177 points
3-Navan Silver 176 points
4-Dungannon Silver 174 points

Youth Brass Band
1-1st Old Boys Silver Junior Band 180 points
2-Downshire Youth Band 178 points

Second Grade Brass
1-Drogheda Brass 185 points (also Best Basses and Best Cornets)
2-Roughan Silver 183 points
3-Lourdes Brass Band 182 points
4-Comber Silver 181 points
5-CWA Brass 180 points

Championship Brass
1-1st Old Boys Silver Band 193 points (also Best Instrumentalist- Alan Haworth, euphonium)
2-Downshire Brass 190 points
3-Third Carrickfergus 187 points
4-Laganvale Metal Technology 186 points
5-Three Rivers Brass 184 points
6-Murley Silver Band 183 points

 

New School Year & new opportunities at Downshire Brass!

Downshire Youth and Junior Bands have a number of spaces available from September 2017 for aspiring young brass players!  We have opportunities in our junior band for young players of grade 1 standard or above and in our youth band for players of grade 3 standard and above.  There will also be a beginners class starting in late September for those starting out to learn a brass instrument.  This will lead directly into the Junior Band.  

Downshire is able to provide instruments to new members and can arrange tuition to anyone who is interested in one-to-one classes.  

Both bands meet from 6.30pm - 7.45pm on Monday evenings at Malone Presbyterian Church.  There are currently more than 40 young people involved in our Youth Programme and opportunities for youth and junior band players to progress through to our senior band, Downshire Brass. 

 

Please get in touch via this link if you want to find out more about participating in any of these youth groups. 

Downshire in Donegal - this weekend

Just a few days until our concert on the beautiful Fanad pennisula in Donegal.   
Tickets are still available via Eventbrite for this event on 5th August 2017 which is a fundraiser for Clondevaddock Parish Church.

The concert includes works from stage and screen, as well as classical transcriptions, jazz standards, and popular music.   The event will take place in Rossnakill Tourism & Activity Centre, Rossnakill, within easy reach of places such as Portsalon, Rathmullan, Carrigart and all areas close to Fanad Head.

TICKETS €10
available from Valerie Gallagher (tel 0749159287/0879588122), on the door or electronically via Eventbrite.