St Andrews Brass Festival 2015

Now in its fourth year, the St Andrews Brass Festival continues to be the only brass festival of its kind in Scotland. The 2015 Festival, directed by John Wallace and Bede Williams, welcomed the Wallace Collection as an ensemble in residence to support four out of the six concerts which took place from 13–15 November 2015 at the University of St Andrews.

Festival Launch – Friday 13 November – Younger Hall

The Festival was launched on 13th November with a lunchtime concert of the massed forces of St Andrews Brass, a non-auditioned group of brass players of orchestral and band backgrounds from across Fife.  The ensemble performed a mixed programme of French and Venetian music, joined by John Wallace and Tony George who performed music written for trumpet and ophicleide.

Published programme:

  • Canzon a 12 in echo – Giovanni Gabrieli (1554-1612)
  • Suite de Symphonies – Jean-Joseph Mouret (1682-1738)
  • Music for trumpet and ophicleide – Various
  • Sinfonietta – Howard Blake
  • Two Brass Cats – Chris Hazell 

Chamber Music – Friday 13 November – MUSA

Following on in the early evening the Museum of St Andrews (MUSA) hosted a collection of brass chamber music presented by a variety of combinations, including horn quintet, trombone quartet, trumpet quartet and a mixed ensemble to lead a performance of Field of Battle, a suite depicting war from the perspectives of the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries.

Disney – Friday 13 November – Younger Hall

A complete change in scene came on Friday evening when the University Wind Band and Big Band brought the magic of Disney to St Andrews. The Disney theme was not only be realized musically: the University Disney Society was also on hand to add costumes and decorations so the audience could get up close to their favourite character.

Brass for All – Saturday 14 November – Younger Hall

Saturday 14 November opened the doors of the Younger Hall to brass players of all ages and abilities from across Scotland, to attend a daytime workshop with members of the Wallace Collection and jazz pianist Richard Michael.

After an interactive warm up session, the participants were led through a series of sessions which introduced and developed a variety of performance techniques, including jazz based improvisation and an insight to music inspired by Strauss and the Renaissance era.  The day also welcomed special contributions from students of St Mary’s Music School, Sistema Scotland and the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.

Concluding with an informal afternoon performance, it was heart-warming to see how, from meeting for the first time that morning, the attendees had worked together, learned from the workshops, learned from each other, discovered new talents they could develop at home and not only managed to create their own version of two pieces through their newly gained improvisation skills, but also masterfully performed the challenging Strauss work.

Resonances of Waterloo – Saturday 14 November – St Salvator’s Chapel

The Wallace Collection has an international reputation for making new artistic discoveries; and we were delighted to share such discoveries during this flagship concert of the festival, leading the programme with an exciting collection of early brass music using original instruments.

Amidst the awe-inspiring setting of St Salvator’s Chapel, the concert opened with The Wallace Collection performing Nonette by Felicient-Cesar David.  This was then followed by The Clydeslide Quartet, a talented trombone quartet from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, which performed Beethoven’s Three Equali for Trombones.

A special feature for the first half of the concert was a very unique performance of Ernest Sachse’s Concertino welcoming internationally renowned trombone soloist, Ian Bousfield to perform.  His virtuosity has done much to inspire composers and performers in the twenty-first century, much like Sachse did in the nineteenth century.

Ian played Concertino on a very rare original Sax Trombone (loaned from the Webb Collection of instruments curated by the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland), accompanied by an extended ensemble of The Wallace Collection, (also using original early brass instruments), all combining to produce an authentic performance of this beautiful 19th century work.

The second half was dedicated to the first performance in recent times of Sigismund von Neukomm’s  Requiem in C Minor for choir and brass.  Neukomm’s Requiem was written for the 1815 Congress of Vienna in the same year as the Battle of the Waterloo, and is one of a handful of pivotal pieces in the development of brass music: hearing the music sung by the St Salvator’s Chapel Choir 200 years after its composition accompanied by period instruments (including the rarely heard Serpent) is a treat not to be missed.


St Salvator’s Chapel Choir (Director: Tom Wilkinson)
The Wallace Collection extended ensemble
Ian Bousfield (trombone)
John Wallace (keyed trumpet)
Clydeslide Trombone Quartet

Published Programme:

Nonette – Felicien-Cesar David (1810-1876)
Three Equali –  Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)
Concertino – Ernst Sache (1810-1849)
Requiem in C minor – Sigismund von Neukomm (1778-1858)

University Service – 15 November – St Salvator’s Chapel

The festival finished in style on Sunday morning with brass again joining St Salvator’s Chapel Choir in the weekly University Service led by the Rev Dr Donald MacEwan.