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


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"