The road to UniBrass

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The University of Lancaster Music Society (ULMS) brass band took part in a workshop rehearsal with a guest conductor in preparation for the upcoming UniBrass competition.

Paul Duffy is a renowned name in traditional music, best known for his time playing for Black Dyke, a world famous name in brass banding. After playing soprano cornet with them for 7 years he has recently begun a career as a solo musician, releasing his debut solo album Only Just Begun last year.

Competitions have always been a rich part of brass band culture. Various contests take place all around the country for bands of different ‘sections’ – the equivalent to sporting leagues. Not only does this culture allow for bands to constantly strive to improve, the events also bring bands together, sustaining a community driven by healthy competition.

After competing in Saddleworth’s Whit Friday’ marches in 2009, a group of Lancaster University students decided to create their own contest – UniBrass, a brass band competition open to all universities, was founded. With the first contest taking place in 2011, UniBrass is now in it’s fourth year and is gaining increasing support and interest.

Although performing well in the early years of the competition, finishing 3rd in 2012, the ULMS brass band finished joint 12th out of 14 in last year’s contest, and are looking to up their game when the event is held in Warwick on Saturday, week 5. One of the ways they thought this could be achieved was through the rehearsal with Paul Duffy.

Susanne Broster, principal euphonium player for the band and ULMS president said ‘it was really worthwhile and enjoyable afternoon; Paul Duffy had us playing better within minutes. I’m really optimistic about getting a result the band can be proud of!’

Paul also ran a question and answer session after the rehearsal, a chance for the band to ask questions about playing techniques and his successful career. He finished the session with a short solo performance on multiple instruments.

“I really enjoyed leading the rehearsal with the University of Lancaster Brass Band,” Paul said. “Our two hour rehearsal finished after three hours! The players were all engaged and responsive to my suggestions. I’m sure if they keep progressing at the rate they are, they will do Lancaster proud at the UniBrass competition next month!”

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