Armagh Summer School

Posted by Mark Wilkinson on 2 September 2013

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Richard Poole reports from the recent Armagh Summer School


Monday 12th August saw the start of the 13th Annual Armagh Old Boys’ Summer School led once again by 9 tutors from Foden’s Band. This year’s tutors were Richard Poole, Ian Raisbeck, Lesley Poole, Natsumi McDonald, Mark Bousie, Shaun Farrington, Stewart Baglin, Anthony Mann and Michael Fowles

The course copied the format of last year with the creation of two separate bands. The Sterling Band, conducted by Mark Bousie, featured players of a standard equivalent to grade five and below and the more advanced delegates attended the Sovereign Band rehearsals led by Michael Fowles. 

The course began in its usual fashion on the Monday night at the City of Armagh High School with a rehearsal for all players titled ‘Meeting the Music’. This gave all players the opportunity to sight read the music for the course, catch up with friends from last year and arrange their seating positions.

Tuesday saw the start of sectionals, full band rehearsals, warm ups and master classes led by Natsumi McDonald, Anthony Mann and Ian Raisbeck. The transition into two bands for this course proved to be an immediate success as the Sterling Band members got to grips with their repertoire whilst the Sovereign Band had detailed sectionals led by the tutors. During the first coffee break, whilst being presented with every type of cake and biscuit known to man, the tutors discussed the positivity and potential coming out of the first rehearsals.

Thursday evening saw the annual Young Soloists Night, which featured music by the Foden’s tutors as they accompanied over 20 solos and duets from the excellent and brave young musicians on the course. Special mention must go to Shaun Farrington for his superb Piano accompanying before being put to shame yet again by 12 yr old Derva Tracy who brought the house down with an two Irish Jigs on the Piano that was faultless in every way. The solo night once again proved what excellent talent there is within the summer school band with superb performances by Hannah Copes and Leah Forsyth to mention just a few. The night was rounded off with a very special performance by Lesley Poole and Ian Raisbeck of their own take on the popular piece ‘My First Solo’ by taking advantage of the Armagh Old Boys P-Bone and Tromba Collection to perform ‘Our First P-Bone Duet’. A performance that will stay in the memory of the audience for a long long time!

After the Friday lunchtime BBQ which featured a tutors treat from Foden’s, including ‘Drummers Delight’ by Anthony Mann and a stunning rendition of ‘Watching the Wheat’ by Mark Bousie, the hall was packed down and transferred to the Armagh Presbyterian Church ready for the Saturday night gala concert. 

The Saturday night gala concert, which included the traditional course award ceremony, saw two stunning performances by the Sterling and Sovereign Band before joining forces for the massed items of Gonna Fly Now, Hine e Hine, Bolero and the course favourite African Funk by the 80 plus musicians who had been involved on the course during the week.  

The week finished in usual fashion back at the Armagh Old Boys Music Centre with socialising until the early hours. 

Whilst at Belfast Airport on the Sunday morning the Foden’s tutors were left arguing over who had gained the most weight throughout the week, the one thing they did agree on was that this was yet again a fantastic course, the highlight of their year and already looking forward to next years. 

Foden's band maintains a world class reputation for providing entertainment in the field of brass music with a tradition and unique style Mark Wilkinson