East Ayrshire Council’s Brass Instructor, Craig Anderson, who also teaches at the Royal Conservatoire and plays for orchestras across Scotland, formed Lomond Brass last summer when he sought fellow professional musicians to form a group to play the most difficult repertoire.
The group consists of Chris Hart, Principal Trumpet at the RSNO, Scotland’s national orchestra; Jason Lewis, Associate Trumpet at the RSNO, Lauren Reeve-Rawlings who plays French Horn for the Orchestra of Scottish Opera; Jonny Hollick who plays Trombone for the BBC Scottish Symphony orchestra and Craig on tuba.
All of their live performances had been cancelled due to Covid-19 but they wanted to ensure that despite the pandemic they could still create music and achieve together. After a couple of rehearsals, it became clear that they were playing exceptionally well and began to look for online competitions that they could compete in.
Craig Anderson said: “Our brass quintet includes some of the best musicians in the country at the moment and it was after only a couple of rehearsals that we realised we had created something very special. In July, we were rehearsing together but at that point, it would have been very difficult to imagine that we would be competing in an international competition just a few months later.
“In September, we came across the Bucharest International Music Competition and decided that this was a great opportunity and that we would apply. Reaching the point where we were able to submit our performance to the judges was a really intense process. We secured a venue where we could safely, and following all Covid-19 restrictions, record a live performance of Suite Americana No1 by Enrique Crespo, which was submitted in December to the judges. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rOmDTDsDcuU&feature=youtu.be
“We were up against groups from the United States, the Czech Republic and the Netherlands. They all had professional photos of their quintet while we had a photograph taken in the studio on a phone, but we were representing Scotland and were very proud of our performance. To then be told that we had won, was just incredible. As a quintet, we had set out to achieve something despite Covid-19, to continue to be creative and produce music that we were proud of and I think it is safe to say that we have done all that and more.”
When the pandemic is over, Lomond Brass intend to visit Craig’s pupils at The Robert Burns Academy in Cumnock where they will hold weekend workshops. They may not have met the quintet face to face, but our young people have already played with them, after they recorded Christmas carols together at the end of last year. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t5Hu2cVQBqc&feature=youtu.be
Craig added: “I was so delighted that we were able to play, digitally, with our young people at Christmas but there is no substitute for live performance. When this is all over, we will hold workshops with my pupils and they will have the chance to learn from exceptional musicians. The Arts are so important for our children and young people and for our communities. It’s through music that we express ourselves and make sense of what we have all been through together.”
Councillor Douglas Reid, Leader of East Ayrshire Council said: “I would like to congratulate Craig Anderson and Lomond Brass on this incredible achievement. The Barony Campus in Cumnock, where Craig is normally based, is a new Campus that has exceptional facilities for our young musicians with theatre space, a recording studio and music practice rooms. They have inspirational teachers and state of the art facilities, there is nothing stopping our young people realising their ambitions.
“While I am delighted that our young people have been able to play with the brass quintet online, it will be great for our young people to be back in school and able to do live performances again. I can’t wait to visit and hear them in person, when it is safe to do so.”