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Issue 6082

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COMPOSER CAST - Christopher Bond meets Naomi Styles

A-plus for A4 Brass Quartet

Wednesday 17 February, 2021

The A4 Brass Quartet is to become the first chamber music group to be recognised with a prestigious new accolade by the Royal Northern College of Music.

The ensemble will become Associates of the Manchester institution at its winter graduation ceremony in December, along with eight other graduates. A new initiative for the college, the ARNCM is conferred upon recent alumni who have demonstrated notable achievement in the early stages of their careers in music and demonstrate the potential to make a significant contribution to their chosen profession.

The A4 Quartet comprises cornetist Jamie Smith (Flowers Band), tenor horn player Jonathan Bates (Foden’s Band), baritone player Mike Cavanagh (Black Dyke Band) and euphonium player Chris Robertson (Brighouse and Rastrick Band).

Mike Cavanagh told British Bandsman: “I speak on behalf of the quartet when I say it is a huge honour to be recognised in this way. We're the first and only ensemble, and the first and only brass players to be recognised with this prestigious award, which makes us very proud of what we have achieved in the professional music industry so far.”

Mike continued: “We are grateful for all the support we have received from the RNCM over the years and are delighted to remain in close contact with the college. During our studies we received specialist advice on which schemes and competitions to apply to; financial support covering our train and flight expenses when we had competitions and concerts in the UK and abroad; specialist chamber music coaching from some of the world's leading teachers and of course, the use of its world-class facilities.

“A significant contributor to our success has been the belief that RNCM members of staff have shown in us over the years. We're an ensemble with a unique instrumentation but that didn't stop us receiving the greatest support from the RNCM. The institution believed in us and helped us to create our own unique path in the professional classical music industry, and it's a path we continue to create as we hope to inspire future generations of brass chamber music ensembles.”

Formed in 2013 at the Royal Northern College of Music, quartet won the coveted Philip Jones Brass Ensemble of the Year prize in its first year. In June 2018 the A4 Quartet completed the prestigious International Artist Diploma in Chamber Music course at the RNCM as John Fewkes scholars and upon graduating, it accepted the invitation from the principal, Linda Merrick, to become Honorary Associate Artists of the RNCM.

The quartet has featured on national television and radio, appearing three times on both ITV’s Christmas Carol Concerts and BBC Radio 3’s In-Tune with Sean Rafferty and Katie Derham. In 2016 it released its debut CD at the RNCM Brass Band Festival featuring new, original music composed for the ensemble including works by Martin Ellerby, Edward Gregson, Oliver Waespi and Nigel Clarke.

Among other alumni being recognised by the RNCM are cellists Abel Selaocoe and Mikhail Nemtsov, pianists Alexander Panfilov and Alexandra Dariescu, bassoonist Andres Yauri, composers Daniel Kidane and Tom Harrold, conductor and repetiteur James Hendry, vocalists Kathryn Rudge (mezzo-soprano) and Soraya Mafi (soprano), and percussionist Le Yu.

Professor Linda Merrick, RNCM principal, said: “It is an honour and privilege to present this prestigious award to such an incredible and inspirational group of young musicians. Their contribution to the college and their continued support to RNCM students past and present is invaluable. All 12 have achieved so much since graduating and I am looking forward to developing our relationship and to seeing their careers flourish even further in the years ahead.”