BERLIN BOUND - Isobel Daws secures place at Karajan Academy

Issue 6125

SCOTTISH FUNDING - SBBA receives Creative Scotland award

CONTEST CANCELLED - West of England Regionals off

CURTAIN RISING - RNCM Festival set for take-off

PUSHED BACK - Australian Nationals postponed

King's Resurrection crowned 2021 Bandsman Album of the Year

Saturday 18 December, 2021

A "masterclass in performance" featuring the cornet playing of David King has been named the 2021 British Bandsman Solo Album of the Year.

Resurrection, featuring the renowned Australian musician David King, joined by accompanist Amir Farid, was the unanimous choice of the judging panel for the prestigious award, while the band and ensemble category was won by brass quintet Onyx Brass for its impressive release, Festmusik, A Legacy on the Chandos label.

While 2021 was a challenging year for the brass band community, the recordings which rose to the fore highlighted the resilience of the brass music world, with albums of quality in both categories. Also impressing in the solo category were  Matryoshka, by Tredegar horn star Ross Dunne, the soloists of the JSVB Legacy Band, reigniting the magic of the famous Jim Shepherd ensemble, and the cooperation band's principal cornetist, Jim Hayes, in Jonny Midnight, The Edge of Forever. However, judge Martyn Ramsay was clear in his mind about the winner in the solo category, writing of Resurrection: "Virtuosic but never garish, beautifully lyrical but never saccharine, the entire disc is a masterclass in performance. 

"For so long, one of the greatest interpreters of the brass medium has relied on those musicians around him to realise his vision. This project has allowed us an opportunity to hear those ideas realised without the need of a conduit and it has been a revelation for a new generation of brass band listeners."

In a year in which there were undoubtedly challenges in conceiving, preparing and delivering new and exciting recording projects, it is perhaps no surprise that the ears of some of the judges were more drawn to smaller groups than the traditional size. Among the runners and riders in this category were the A4 Brass Quartet for its album Mosaic, as well as Black Dyke Band (Black Dyke Gold Volume IX), Tredegar and Cory bands for their Live at... albums, and Bram Gregson & Friends, paying tribute to the esteemed late musician. Nowhere, however, was the idea of 'less is more' felt more keenly then with the winner in the band and ensemble category, Festmusik, A Legacy by Onyx Brass, conducted by John Wilson. Judge and Fountain City Brass Band star Lee Harrelson described the album as "A tour-de-force of symphonic brass chamber music... A fascinating concept and a remarkable recording brimming with all the splendour of the Romantic era."

Fellow judge Keith Wilkinson, meanwhile, paid tribute to the "extremely polished playing throughout" from the chamber ensemble, which also welcomed Septura Brass for some of the larger works.

Read the full, in-depth coverage of the 2021 British Bandsman Album of the Year Awards, including feedback from the judges and comments from the winners, in edition 6121, out now.

Issue 6121 digital December 16, 2021