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One of Scotland’s top brass bands is coming to Mareel to complete their tour of Shetland & Orkney with a concert, including the world premiere of a work composed by national prize-winning composer Peter Jones of Haroldswick.

The Bon Accord Silver Band, based in Aberdeen, is touring Orkney and Shetland as part of their 50th Anniversary celebrations. The band features some of the finest brass musicians in the UK, and is amongst the top flight of bands in the country.  The band will be under the direction of their professional conductor, Steven Martin, and players on tour with the band include the former principal tuba player of the Halle Orchestra, Andrew Duncan, who is also a well-known composer, arranger, adjudicator, and conductor.

The finale of the concert will feature the world premiere of “Where Seas and Oceans Meet”, a work in five movements, composed by Unst’s Peter Jones.  The work is inspired by the land and seascapes around Shetland where the composer has kayaked or toured.  Each movement is named after the Old Norse names for regions of Shetland: (i) Muckle Flugga; (ii) Ornyst, (Eagles’ Nest = Unst); (iii) Esjanes (Eshaness); (iv) Friðarey (Fair Isle); and (v) Dunrøstar Høfdi (Head of the Thunderous Noise = Sumburgh Head). The style of the music is melodic  and is proving popular with the band.  Bon Accord also plans to include it as the finale in their 50th Anniversary Concert later this year.

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Bon Accord Silver Band

Peter, who came to Shetland over 3 years ago when his wife, Lynne, became the Health Visitor for the North Isles, has been a finalist in a number of international composition competitions in the past year alone. The Welshman was a former winner at the National Eisteddfod of Wales, and has also won prizes as a soloist & conductor.

Briefly a professional orchestral trombonist as a teenager, Peter soon decided he would change career and became a naval officer, reaching the rank of Captain after seeing service all around the globe. Indeed, in 2009, Peter was the subject of a press campaign to be awarded the George Cross for his bravery in the Falklands in helping, in extreme weather conditions, to stop a runaway barge full of around 35 tons of highly unstable explosives from striking a troop ship with about 2000 personnel on board. The islands’ MP, Alistair Carmichael, took a deep interest in the affair and supported fully the campaign after having been given all the details of the citation by a pressure group.

Peter, forced to give up his career because of arthritis and fibromyalgia, returned to music and became a composer, and has had numerous pieces played by groups around Europe and the US. As a player, he has appeared with some of the finest and best-known ensembles in the world, including the World, European and British champion bands. He will be playing with the band at the concert as their usual principal trombone, professional player Mark Boyd, is unable to go on tour. Since coming to the islands, Peter has been involved as a player, arranger and conductor with the well-known Yell-based chamber ensemble, Fancytunes. Qualified for MENSA since his teenage days, he has had a short story published and read out on Radio 4, has written for TV and magazines, was an athlete and player at representative level in a number of sports, and was a full karate international.

Modern top brass bands have come a very long way from the old image of hymn tunes and marches, and can play any piece of music put in front of them and can overcome the most fierce technical challenges; from the most lyrical and beautiful music to a huge symphonic sound. The concert programme for the Mareel is highly entertaining and wide ranging, and will appeal to music lovers of all ages.

The band’s Principal Cornet and Chairman, Dr. David Cooper, is no stranger to Shetland as he regularly comes to train the islands’ medical personnel in emergency procedures as part of the BASICS team – this is where he met Peter, who attended the course as one of Unst’s volunteer ambulance men. Although a full-time GP, David has been at the very pinnacle of cornet/trumpet players in Scotland since his earliest days, and has held many prestigious positions such as the principal player of ensembles as the National Youth Orchestra of Scotland, the National Wind Band, and Whitburn Band (generally acknowledged as one of the world’s finest bands).  David’s wife, Karen, holds the Solo Horn chair with the band and is a professional brass tutor.

Richard Kidd, the band’s euphonium soloist, started his playing career with Bon-Accord Silver ‘B’ Band in 1999. Since then, he went on to become principal euphonium with Whitburn Band and, for six years, the National Youth Band of Scotland.  Richard won the Scottish Youth Solo title four times, won Champion Euphonium Player of Scotland three times,  and was a finalist in the first BBC Radio 2 Young Brass Soloist of the Year in 2004.  He is a rising star as conductor of the ‘B’ Band and other ensembles.

The band will also work with players of Lerwick’s own brass band, well known on the Up Helly Aa circuit; and part of the final concert will feature both bands. The concert is in Mareel on Sunday 31st March at 7:30pm. Tickets cost £12 / £10 and are available from Shetland Box Office in Mareel & Islesburgh, over the phone on 01595 745 555, or online here. You can also buy on the door.

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