Fodens tutor on the 12th Armagh Summer School

Posted by Mark Wilkinson on 18 August 2012

Monday 6th August saw the start of the 12th 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 Howie, Natsumi McDonald, Mark Bousie, Shaun Farrington, Stewart Baglin, Anthony Mann and Michael Fowles

The format for the course saw a change in previous years with the creation of two separate bands due to attracting over 100 delegates. 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 traditional 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 Lesley Howie, 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 25 solos, duets and quartets 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 by 11 yr old Dervla Tracey who brought the house down with an Irish Jig 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 Sam Brodison and Darren Gibson to name but a few.
After the Friday lunchtime BBQ which featured a tutors treat from Foden’s, including ‘Live and Let Die’ by Richard Poole and a stunning rendition of ‘Rule Britannia’ by Natsumi McDonald, the hall was packed down and transferred to the Armagh Presbyterian Church ready for the Saturday night gala concert.
The Saturday night gala concert saw two stunning performances by the Sterling and Sovereign Band before joining forces for the massed items of Star Lake, Hymn to Barossa and Procession to the Minster. Prior to the massed items came the eagerly awaited end of course awards. This years winners being Ivor Stevenson (Best over 25), Julie Ann Stevenson (Most endeavour), Darren Gibson (Most Improved player) and Sam Brodison (Foden’s Award – Player of the Course).
The course 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 the best course yet and were already looking forward to next year.
Thanks must go to Ivor Stephenson and his tireless team of helpers who work all year round to ensure that the summer school, and February visit of Fodens, run smoothly every year. 
For any conductor and every audience, Foden’s Band is a musical Magic Carpet. It continually takes the listener to places that few other ensembles rarely even approach Howard Snell