End of Year Concert 2017

A massed band of over 60 players from the junior, youth and senior bands gathered for Downshire's end-of-year concert. This event, which marks the end of the academic year and the beginning of a summer break, featured music which the bands had been working on during the last year.

Roger Doherty led the junior band through four pieces including Amarillo and I'll Tell Me Ma, with the audience providing lively clapping accompaniments in both pieces.   The youth band, conducted by Michael Alcorn, played a range of pieces including Mr Jums, The Muppet Show theme music and two movements from Little Suite for Brass by Malcolm Arnold.  The youth band programme also included a contemporary piece for snare drum solo, entitled Kim, by Askell Másson, performed skilfully by Cathryn Lynch. 

The senior band opened and closed the concert with pieces from their 2017 summer programme, including Village People Medley and Minnie the Moocher with solos from Chris Reid and Leah Forsythe.  Alas, this concert was also the last appearance for Leah on flugel before she moves to England to continue her academic studies.  The concert also marked the first performance by Ellen Mullen as the newest member of Downshire Brass.

Cathryn Lynch & Michael Alcorn

Cathryn Lynch & Michael Alcorn

Two awards were made at the end of the evening, marking outstanding contributions by one member from each of the junior and youth bands.   All of the young players in both bands could have been worthy winners of these awards, so inevitably it was challenging to select a recipient.   In the end the Samuel Doherty Cup was won by Susan Lowther and the Doreen Alcorn Cup for Outstanding Musical Contribution was awarded to Cathryn Lynch.

The evening concluded with a massed band performance of the Best of Bond.  What a sound!  

Strike up the Band - new series

Downshire Brass' performance for Strike up the Band will be broadcast on 16th July at 6.30pm and repeated on Tuesday 18 July 2017 at 7.30pm.  

Details of the full series are shown below:

Programme 1                                                                                                
BROADCAST           Sunday 18 June 2017 at 1830                                  
REPEAT                     Tuesday 20 June 2017 at 1930

Joe McKee returns with a new series of music for concert bands.  Featured guests today are the members of the 1st Old Boys Association Silver Band conducted by Stephen Cairns.

Programme 2                                                                                                            
BROADCAST           Sunday 25 June 2017 at 1830                                                                     
REPEAT                     Tuesday 27 June 2017 at 1930

Joe McKee introduces Ballylone Concert Flute Band, from the Ballynahinch area, conducted by Philip Walton.

Programme 3                                                            
BROADCAST         Sunday 2 July 2017 at 1830                                                                   
REPEAT                     Tuesday 4 July 2017 at 1930

Joe McKee’s guests are the members of the Laganavale (Metal Technology) Silver Band
from Belfast, conducted by Stephen Crooks.


Programme 4                                                                                                            
BROADCAST           Sunday 9 July 2017 at 1830                                                                       
REPEAT                     Tuesday 11 July 2017 at 1930

Joe McKee presents the Ballyclare Victoria Flute Band from mid Antrim, with their conductor Alan Beattie.

Programme 5                                                                                                            
BROADCAST           Sunday 16 July 2017 at 1830                                                                     
REPEAT                     Tuesday 18 July 2017 at 1930

Joe McKee introduces the Downshire Brass Band from Belfast and their conductor Professor Michael Alcorn.

Programme 6                                                                                                            
BROADCAST           Sunday 23 July 2017 at 1830                                                                    
REPEAT                     Tuesday 25 July 2017  at 1930

Joe McKee presents the Ballygowan Flute Band from County Down with their conductor, Stephen Cairns.

Strike up the Band Recording

Some photographs from Monday's recording session with Joe McKee and Karl Walker for the 2017 BBC Radio Ulster series, "Strike Up the Band".  The show will be broadcast in June and will feature pieces from our recent contest and concert programmes.  Thanks as always to Joe and Karl for being so easy to work with and to our guests who helped on the night.  Thanks also to Ashley Elliott for the photographs.  



The band were delighted to be invited to compete in the Senior Trophy at the Spring Festival at the Winter Gardens in Blackpool on the 13th May.  This new adventure for the band and its supporters began on Friday morning with a ferry journey over to Cairnryan under the excellent steerage of Jeremy at Millennium Travel. An early night saw an early rehearsal on the Saturday morning with the band drawn seventh in the morning draw.  The intense preparation of Gilbert Vinter’s ‘Salute to Youth’ under our Musical Director Prof. Michael Alcorn paid off with the band achieving a creditable thirteenth out of the nineteen bands competing.  With the last five bands being relegated, this assures the band of a place at next year’s competition. 


A huge achievement for a first outing. Congratulations to our soloists, particularly  Hannah Copes and Neil Stephenson.  Huge congratulations to Dalmellington and Richard Evans on their first place and Laganvale on their eighth place.  It was great to be in the same hotel as Laganvale and it certainly added to the vibe!

For some of the band, the celebrations continued well into the night (and morning!!) sampling the delights of Blackpool and amazing the crowds with unique Karaoke performances with accompanying dancers! But by Sunday morning many took to the Tower, were tempted by the Ballroom or enjoyed a stroll along the beach.  The journey home was a little quieter!

As always, thanks to Michael for his encouragement, meticulous preparation and energy.  Thanks also to Gary Proctor and Wesley Thompson for guesting with the band.  Taking the band to Blackpool involved huge efforts by all the members and supporters of the band in terms of commitment, rehearsals, sectionals, organisation and fund-raising. The band thanks everyone.

Now the band moves on to prepare for a busy Summer of engagements.

Photographs from Blackpool 2017



The band enjoyed travelling in the spring sunshine yesterday to compete in the Spring Festival at the Alley Theatre in Strabane organised by the Brass Band League NI in Association with North West Music Festival. The band thanks the BBL and the Alley Theatre for an enjoyable and well-organised event.

In a closely fought Championship section with six bands competing, Downshire took third place with Philip Sparke's "Tallis Variations". The band enjoyed playing the piece and thanks all the players for their continued commitment and going that extra mile particularly in the run up to the contest in order to achieve a consistent performance on the day. In particular we thank all soloists and Ellen Mullen, Duncan McKluskie, and Wesley Thompson.

Congratulations tp 1st Old Boys Association Silver Band and Stephen Cairns for their win with the Raid by Oliver Waespi and Langanvale (Metal Technology) Band and Stephen Crooks on second place with Gilbert Vinter's "Salute to Youth".  Huge congratulations to Wellington Memorial SIlver Band and Gary Proctor for winning Band of the Year. Well done also to all the other competing bands for making it a great day of music-making.

As always, the band thanks their Musical Director Prof. Michael Alcorn for his leadership, energy and expertise. His continued input with the Junior and Youth bands is also hugely appreciated and crucial to the ongoing vitality of Downshire Brass and the band's ethos of music-making for all. 

The band now has a busy month ahead preparing to compete for the first time in the 97th Spring Festival at Blackpool on 14th May. The invitation is an exciting venture for the band. This would be impossible without the continued support of family, friends and supporters and is hugely appreciated.  We welcome involvement with junior/youth/senior bands, fund-raising, promotion, logistics etc.  Just contact info@downshirebrass.com to find out more and get involved.

Downshire Brass 



A wonderful evening of fun and the flexing of brains was held at the brilliant facilities of Cooke and Instonians Rugby Club in Belfast on Saturday 18th March, 2017.  Over eighty band members, family, friends and supporters of all ages came together under the watchful eyes of Deborah and Roger Doherty.  Huge thanks to Deborah and Roger for putting together such a slick and well managed event.  As the judge’s decision is always final Deborah kept a firm rein on the enthusiastic quizzers! 

The competition was lively with tactics and team names kept under wraps until the last minute. Creative imaginations were evident in names ranging from Weapons of Brass destruction to ‘Tallis’ The Answers.  However, the Treble Makers won the day, followed by the B Sharps with La La Band and Adarose taking joint third.  This is a considerable achievement considering that the questions required a range of knowledge from the Tellytubby’s and 70’s sit-coms to Geography, Science, History, Sport and Music.  

Our MD Professor Michael Alcorn presented the prize cups and chocolate goodies. The evening was interspersed with a raffle comprising an amazing array of kindly donated prizes and vouchers.  

We appreciate the support of businesses here such as the Willow Massage Centre, No Alibis (Bookshop) and Fred J. Malcolm Ltd (Jewellers). Mark Sefton kept everyone’s energy levels up with crisp supplies and the hose pipe was an interesting (and hotly contested!) addition to the range of prizes on offer. The band also thanks the numerous donors who were unable to attend on the night. It also appreciates the efforts of everyone involved in the evening, including the bar staff.  Taking the band to compete in the 97th Spring Festival in Blackpool in May involves considerable organisation and travel costs.  The band is self-funding and the evening raised over £700.00 to help send the band on its way.  The band would be keen to attract on-going sponsorship and donations and has an ethos of encouraging participation in music-making across its Junior, Youth and Senior Bands.  If anyone would like to donate specifically to the Blackpool trip or discuss wider sponsorship/advertising opportunities, please contact us on info@downshirebrass.com.

Enjoy the photographs and look out for the next Downshire Brass event!

BBL Brass in Concert

The band had an enjoyable day competing in Fivemiletown yesterday in the BBL Brass in Concert Entertainment Contest at the Valley Hotel.  With a 1970s-80s themed programme, Downshire Brass was pleased with an overall second place and particularly pleased to win the Entertainment prize in the Championship Section with some slick moves and well executed choreography.  

Special thanks to our MD Prof. Michael Alcorn for all his energy, encouragement and hard work in putting together such an entertaining, innovative and enjoyable programme - not least with the disco lights (thanks Dave Bird) and 'illuminating' conducting style in the Village People Medley.  It was nice to see the audience getting into the groove and supplying the choreography!

Congratulations to Hannah Copes, Leah Forsythe and all the soloists for their performances and thanks all the band members and supporters who enable us to get 'on stage’. 

Finally, the band wishes to congratulate 1st Old Boys on their first prize and all of the competing bands and prizewinners across the sections.  Thanks also to the BBL and contributors who helped create a fantastic day of music making. We look forward to seeing everyone in Strabane.

Christmas and New Year 2016/17

This year, the band’s Christmas season began on 11th November and ended on Christmas Eve.  Band members played at the Kennedy Centre, the Park Centre, Greencastle Methodist, Belvoir Methodist, St. Nicholas’ Parish, Belfast City Hall, Conlig Presbyterian, St. Thomas’ Parish, the Abbeycentre, Whitehead Methodist, De Courcy Centre, Tesco Lisburn Road and Hillsborough Village Centre.  

One of the highlights in the Downshire Brass calendar is the annual ‘Christmas Spectacular’ event which was held in St Thomas’ Parish Church.  Grosvenor Chorale was the band’s guest choir who, once again, entertained a packed house with a wide variety of music.  Downshire Junior and Youth Bands also took to the stage to show off all their hard work from the previous few months which was greatly praised by audience members.  The band would like to thank Grosvenor and their Musical Director Edward Craig for their wonderful contribution to the evening and to Rev. Paul Jack and the Select Vestry of St Thomas’ for allowing them to have the use of such a beautiful building.    

It has been a very busy couple of months and the band would like to take this opportunity to thank all those who invited them to play at the various events and for the support from those who attended concerts, bought CDs or donated money at shopping centre collections.  As you can see from the photographs, the band thoroughly enjoyed the festive period!  

The first event of 2017 for Downshire Brass was at the wedding of baritone player Gary Dodsworth to Catherine Woods, solo cornet player of The Wellington Memorial Silver Band.  The band thoroughly enjoyed playing at the service and evening reception, all agreeing that the new Mrs Dodsworth and her bridesmaids were stunning (and the groom scrubbed up well too!) Many congratulations Mr and Mrs Dodsworth!



Bass vacancy at Downshire Brass

We are currently seeking to recruit a Bb Bass player to join Downshire Brass!

Our friendly band offers a good mix of contest, concert, and recording work and welcomes players both young and old.  The Band enjoys excellent attendance at rehearsals and has a steady schedule of events lined up over the next 12 months including participation in the British Open Spring Festival in May 2017 and work on the band's 4th CD. 

If you interested in joining this ambitious group, then please contact Paul on +44 7867 831327 or via email info@downshirebrass.com for more information about this vacancy, or to arrange to attend one of our rehearsals.

Downshire Brass rehearses on Mondays and Thursdays from 8.00pm - 10.00pm in Malone Presbyterian Church Halls, Lisburn Road, Belfast.

Autumn 2016

NIBA 2016

Armagh NIBA 2016

Armagh NIBA 2016

On 22nd October 2016, Downshire Brass took to the stage at the Marketplace Theatre, Armagh for the 99th North of Ireland Bands’ Association Championship of Ireland contest.  The band played the set test-piece ‘Music for the Common Man’ by Kenneth Downie in the Championship section and came in 3rd place. 


Congratulations must go to our principal cornet player Hannah Copes who, after a great performance on stage, was announced as the ‘Best Instrumentalist’ of the section by adjudicator Steve Sykes.  The band thoroughly enjoyed the day listening to the other sections and catching up with friends from the other bands.  Congratulations to Laganvale (Metal Technology) Band on qualifying for the 2018 European Brass Band Championships in Utrecht. Members of the band attended the NIBA Dinner and Presentation of Awards held at the Dunsilly Hotel, Antrim in November.  Thank you to the NIBA Executive for organising a great event!



Festival of Brass 2016

The bands’ next event was the Brass Band League (NI) Festival of Brass at the Whitla Hall, Belfast on Saturday 26th November where both the youth and senior bands participated.  Both bands were awarded 2nd place in their sections and the youth band was also awarded the ‘Best March’ prize.  Everyone in Downshire Brass is extremely proud of the members of the youth band for a great performance at the contest and a special mention goes to Cathryn Lynch for a fantastic xylophone solo!  Six members of the band had not participated in a contest before and for some, this was also their first performance with the band.  Be sure to catch them at the ‘Downshire Brass Christmas Spectacular’ on 9th December!  



During the awards ceremony, on behalf of Downshire Brass, secretary Robert Mercer presented the ‘Harry Dalzell Memorial Trophy’ to Isobel Dalzell in memory of our friend Harry.  This was then presented to Laganvale (Metal Technology) Band as winners of the Championship Section.  Downshire Brass hopes that this trophy will serve as a tribute to Harry for many years to come. Congratulations to all the prize winners at the Festival of Brass.



Downshire Brass would like to thank their MD Michael Alcorn for all his work with the band in preparing them for all of the events this year.  The band has enjoyed all the challenges you have set! Now, let’s get stuck into Christmas! 





Music in the parks 1930s style


Members of Downshire Brass took part in a performance of historical brass band music alongside players from CWA, 1st Old Boys, Wellington, Ballyduff, Laganvale, 3rd Carrick, Sydneham Salvation Army and Temple Salvation Army.  

It was a great excuse to break out the full Downshire uniform which haven't been used since summer 2012.

The programe included: 

Hymn - Abide With Me,

March - The Elephant

Selection - The Student Prince

March - Colonel Bogey

Waltz - Amorette

Selection - Memories of Ireland



Hannah all set for the European Youth Brass Band

On 22nd April, Hannah Copes, Downshire’s Principal Cornet, will be representing Northern Ireland in France, in the European Youth Brass Band for an exciting week of music making with an awesome array of talented musicians from across Europe. This will give her the opportunity of playing in venues including Valenciennes, Roubaix, Douai and, of course, Lille; where the European Championships are taking place. Our best wishes go with Hannah as she approaches, what will be a very challenging, but rewarding experience.

Cornet and Bass Vacanices at Downshire Brass

We are currently seeking to recruit back row cornet players and a Bb Bass player to join Downshire Brass.  Our friendly band offers a good mix of contest, concert, and recording work and welcomes players both young and old.  The Band enjoys excellent attendance at rehearsals and has a steady schedule of events lined up over the next year.

If you interested in joining this ambitious group, then please contact Gary Dodsworth on 07939 986813 or via email gary.dodsworth@downshirebrass.com for more information about these vacancies, or to arrange to attend one of our rehearsals.  Downshire Brass rehearses on Mondays and Thursdays from 8.00pm - 10.00pm in Malone Presbyterian Church Halls, Lisburn Road, Belfast.

New Associate Conductor at Downshire Brass

Downshire Brass is delighted to announce the appointment of Wesley Thompson as Associate Conductor.

Working alongside the Band's Musical Director, Michael Alcorn, Wesley will be helping the band prepare for a busy schedule of concerts, contests and recordings during 2016 and beyond.    

Wesley has been Musical Director of Comber Silver Band since 2010 and until recently, euphonium with the 1st Old Boys Band.  In recent years he has also been much in demand as a brass teacher.

Wesley said "I am looking forward to working with Michael Alcorn and Downshire Brass, and I'm excited by the opportunities and challenges which lie ahead."





New Year - New Opportunities

Downshire Youth Inititative is on a major recruitment drive in 2016 to expand its Youth, Junior and Learner Bands.  

Downshire is actively seeking to recruit children for its beginners class on Monday nights - children from 7 years and up who are interested in learning a brass instrument will receive free tuition and a free instrument during the remainder of the academic year.   Expert tutors will provide group and one-to-one tuition over the first 12 weeks before children progress to the Junior Band.

We are also recruiting young players of around grade 1standard for our Junior Band and more experienced players of around grade 3 standard and above for our Youth Band.  The band is based on the Lisburn Road in Belfast with more than 30 children involved in the current Youth Programme and a further 35 players involved in the senior band.

Please get in touch via this link if you want to find out more about participating in any of our Youth Ensembles. 

See below for a recent performance by our Youth Band at the Festival of Brass at Queen's...

Downshire goes Digital


The latest Downshire CD is now available to download on iTunes and Amazon.  The new disc marks the band's 25th Anniversary and is the 3rd CD that Downshire has released since 2011. 

The new CD includes the following tracks:  Strike Up The Band, When Thunder Calls, Blaze Away, Cry Me A River (Flugelhorn Soloist: Amy Wilson), Lady Stewart’s Air, Sway, My Love Is Like A Red Red Rose (Cornet Soloist: Hannah Copes), Aces High, Mr Sandman, Shepherd Song (Euphonium Soloist: Edward Wilson), Copacabana, The Witch of the Westmerlands, O Magnum Mysterium, Goldcrest, and the testpiece, Salome.