FESTIVAL OF CHICHESTER: The Symphonic Brass of London in concert

A handpicked ensemble of virtuoso brass soloists from London’s orchestral scene brings a concert of music by French and Spanish composers to the Festival of Chichester.

Playing in Chichester
Playing in Chichester

Nick Lloyd, director the Symphonic Brass of London, is promising an evening ranging from the power of Couperin’s military music to Bizet’s fiery Carmen Suite and the purity of Debussy’s The Girl with the Flaxen Hair.

Under the title A Bridge over the Pyrenees, the concert will be in St Paul’s Church, Churchside, Chichester on Friday, June 19 at 7.30pm under the Festival of Chichester banner.

“A Bridge over the Pyrenees is an album we recorded from a programme we did at the Newbury Festival in 2013,” Nick says. “We turned that programme into the album, and we then took that programme to Norway.

Playing in Chichester

“The pieces aren’t pieces that were written for brass, but all these arrangements work really well. We did a performance on Radio 3’s In Tune. We played three numbers from the album, and they proved to be very popular.”

All part of the ensemble’s mission to enhance brass credentials.

“We formed the company in 2012. We go out in different forms, a quintet or a dectet or 16 or 19. We basically draw on all the best players from the leading symphony orchestras. What has happened was that until this year we have waited for people to ask us to do concerts and various different engagements. Some have been corporate. Some have been festivals. But as a manager, I got a bit fed up waiting for people to come. #

“And so we started a series of concerts (in Beckenham) where we covered the concert by raising sponsorship. Part of our philosophy is that education is a very big part of what we do. What we want to do is to promote excellent brass playing and push the standards up with some really exciting brass playing.

“The idea really is just to show the work that we can do. There is another element to that, and that’s brass playing is not really taken seriously in the classical music world. I know it is appreciated within the symphony orchestra world, but when it comes to chamber music, it is often looked at as being at the lighter end of the scale, almost end-of-the-pier type music. Maybe it is in the nature of the instruments. Maybe it is in the nature of the players.”

But Nick’s point – and the ensemble will illustrate it for the Festival of Chichester – is that brass chamber playing is worth much, much more respect than that.

“It’s about changing perceptions. It will be a life’s work!”

A trombonist within the ensemble, Nick recalls it as a crucial moment in his musical development. Now it’s a question of keeping the work coming. They are already contemplating the next album: “It will be a quintet album called On The Edge. We performed it at the Buxton Festival last year. It’s about pushing the envelope all the time as far as brass playing it concerned.

“And that’s the reason we produce our own concerts. If we do it in the right way, then we can hopefully start to build up the funding and so have the resources for regular concert work.”

The night will be directed by Eric Crees and will feature students from West Sussex Music. Tickets £15; students £8; children £3.

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