I used to think I didn’t like brass band music, even though I always adored the sound of a Stax horn section. But age has mostly shown me the error of my ways and any lingering doubts I may have had were blown away in 24 hours by two of the best recitals I have ever heard. The first was one of the marvellous free Thursday lunchtime concerts at St Alfege’s, this one featuring Trinity Laban Brass Ensemble. Students conducted by international tuba virtuoso Oren Marshall gave us a programme of modern music that was uniformly and joyfully brilliant, especially their version of Suite Americana by Enrique Crespo and The Battle Of Jericho, which featured a great solo by jazz trumpeter Magnus Pickering. Best of all, however, was the finale, a thunderous recital of Tribute To Kenton by Francois Glorieux conducted by percussion giant Gary Kettel.
The following lunchtime, three of the ensemble’s star players – trumpeters Emily Bristow and Sarah Owens and trombonist Martin Lee Thomson – were at the Old Royal Naval College chapel as part of Mesh’d Brass with tuba player Hannah Mbuya and Derryck Nasib on French horn. This was an altogether quieter but no less marvellous selection of music which hit lyrical heights with Gabrieli’s gorgeous Ricercar Del Duodecimo Tuono and Scheidt’s Battle Suite before finishing with Gordon Carr’s terrific Movements For Brass Quintet. These two performances may have differed in style but the musicianship on show at both was matchless. What a fab way to spend two lunch hours – and what a tribute to Trinity Laban.