Returning to your roots and giving something back.

Going back to your roots, whether it is researching your family tree (as I have recently started doing), visiting your old school or driving past a former home, I always find to be a rather surreal experience. It doesn’t matter whether some or all of the people have long gone, there still remain some sights, sounds and even smells that that can trigger a myriad of deep-seated memories, which have lain dormant for countless number of years, transporting you in an instant back to a bygone age.

My “blast from the past” has been a return to both my spiritual and musical roots. One might argue that they are one and the same, as they are inextricably linked.

I was brought up in the small village of Llangyndeyrn in the Gwendraeth Valley – a very rural part of Carmarthenshire, Wales. So rural in fact, that the last bus into Carmarthen (5 miles away) and any semblance of civilisation, left the village at 5.05pm. Even worse was the last bus back left at 5.45pm, thus curtailing any potential fun and nighttime revelry, before it had even started!

Bearing in mind that the local Primary School only had a total – yes total! of 14 pupils at the time I attended it, one had to be fairly creative as a result, when it came to childhood “recreation” and “entertainment”.

My good luck and salvation was music. Both my parents were extremely musical with my Mum having sung in the London Philharmonic Chorus, under the great maestros such as Beecham, Boult and Barbirolli. Dad meanwhile was a keen singer too, having sung on the Eisteddfod circuit, with a certain degree of success too. In addition to this, he also played in the local brass band – Crwbin Silver Band (The difference between Silver and Brass I hear you ask? Silver was deemed posher, as it was a more valuable commodity than brass, therefore gave the band a tad more credibility).

So at the age of 7 and with a limited number of friends in the village to fulfil any meaningful sporting activities – cricket or rugby played by 3 people has its limitations you know! – and with a suitable number of trees climbed (and fallen out of), one looked to new horizons and took the obvious choice of learning to play an instrument in the local band. I was given a cornet to play. Like Father, like Son.

Lessons commenced, with my first teacher being my Uncle Stan, who also conducted the Band. Although I viewed him more as a grandfather figure, he was certainly no soft-touch and ensured that all who attended behaved and put in some hard work each rehearsal. Hymn tunes were the first melodies attempted once we had “mastered” enough notes and my first public performance was on the hymn “Hursley”, quickly followed by “Whitburn”.

Opening new bandroom

Stan Jones (pictured left) who was my very first brass teacher. He is pictured at the opening ceremony of the new band room in Crwbin.

Much practising and hard work followed over the next couple of years and this was eventually rewarded with “promotion” to the full senior Band. Now things got serious as rehearsals were held 3 times a week – Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday afternoons if memory serves me correctly. Hard to imagine a Championship Section Band attempting that sort of commitment nowadays, not to mention a Fourth Section Band, but it certainly beat 1-a-side cricket and falling out of trees, so this was my pathway to a lifelong musical journey. No chance of getting bored now!

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Yours truly sat in front of the Bass drum. Stan and my Dad are either side of the Drum, with my Cousin Julian in the back row (6th from right).

So, back to the reason for the blog. Having started my musical journey some cough, splutter, ahem years ago – okay, okay it was 45 years ago, happy? It was a huge privilege, buzz and pleasure to be asked back to the Band as a guest conductor a couple of years ago, with the working relationship getting stronger especially over the last few months, as the previous Musical Director had moved on to pastures new.

The return to the old band room where it had all started did indeed reignite all those memories with a sensory overload to boot. Apart from many friends who are still members in the Band, my cousin Julian (Stan’s son) also still plays, so a stronger link from past to present you couldn’t wish for. Pictures of family and friends (and one or two of me) on the wall, as well as memorabilia from times past, the view of the Gwendraeth Valley down to my home village, not forgetting the “Welshness” of the surroundings, where Welsh is still the main language spoken most of the time. Something I rarely get a chance to do even though I still live in the Principality.

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Crwbin Silver Band c. mid 1960’s. (Back row 4th from left is my cousin Julian, centre front row in the bow tie is my Uncle, Stan Jones (Bandmaster) and on the right hand end of the front row is my Father, Morley).

Imagine my delight then last weekend (03.08.19) when the Band were crowned 2nd Champions at the National Eisteddfod of Wales in Llanrwst. This was a true return to my roots in every sense, allowing me the opportunity of giving back and thanking the organisation and some of the people who helped nurture me into the person that I am today.

Diolch Seindorf Arian Crwbin.

Thank you Crwbin Silver Band.

National Eisteddfod Llanrwst 03.08.19

Crwbin Silver Band – 2019 National Eisteddfod 2nd Section Champions

For more information about Andrew Jones and Music for You, please visit http://www.andrewjonesmusic.com  Contact andrew@andrewjonesmusic.com or 07973 869621.

Music for You – it’s just that!

 

5 Trumpets and a Flugel Horn

Following on from my last post, where I shared a recording I made of Thomas Morley’s  “It Was a Lover and His Lasse”, here is another track, but from a totally different era.

This one will be instantly recognisable to many of you (especially of a certain age and generation), however the title may well be unknown and l can almost hear the cogs whirring as you try to remember where you’ve heard it from. To find out the answer, you’ll need to read the programme notes at the bottom of the video.

As for the arrangement, it was done by a colleague and friend of mine, Mike Linskey, who I met when I was a student at the Welsh College of Music and Drama in Cardiff (way back in 1985-89). Mike ran his own brass quintet and was a real whizz at arranging an assortment of pieces for the quintet and I asked him to arrange this for a Concert I organised at the College with my Trumpet Ensemble. He scored it for 6 Trumpets, but I added a little extra colour with a Flugel Horn on the 6th part, just to give an added bit of tonal contrast.

Flugel Horn

As always, thanks for your continued support and I hope that you enjoy it!

Click here to view the Video

It’s been a while – to say the least! – since I last posted. Life has been extremely hectic and often things gets in the way of projects that we plan to carry out.

During this period, I’ve been trying to fulfil certain goals and among these goals was a project to record some further music tracks of Trumpet repertoire, both solo and ensembles. If truth be known, it was a bit of a vanity project, however there was a serious aspect to it too, in as much that during the quieter periods of work, one needs to keep playing standards to the highest levels possible and not lose focus on maintaining core skills, such as technique, stamina, range, as well as the ability to swap from one instrument to another.

The track entitled “It Was a Lover and His Lasse” is by English Renaissance Composer Thomas Morley (c.1557-1602), who was Organist of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London and one of the foremost composers of his time, particularly in the writing of Madrigals. It was recorded by James Clarke at Ty Cerdd Recording Studio, at the Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff.

I hope you enjoy it!

For more information about Andrew Jones, please visit http://www.andrewjonesmusic.com

 

Is there any point in attending networking events? Assume at your peril!

Music for You – Networking

My point then? Well, apart from an impassioned, informative and extremely enjoyable speech by Tim, who spoke of his own difficult personal journey (dealing with prejudice and bullying) and his love for the Creative Arts, here are a selection of  people who I met that evening:
Person A – I already knew and had done some business with previously, where he had provided my marketing materials
Person B – was an accountant who used to play a flute and was a prospective player for the Royal British Legion of Wales, whom I conduct
Person C – A Chartered Surveyor who previously played a brass instrument and we shared mutual friends and colleagues
Person D – was MD of a Commercial Finance Company, who had financed a fleet vehicle for a band that I have worked with and we shared a number of acquaintances
By the way, Tim, as well as being a singer and conductor also used to play a brass instrument with  brass band that I used to conduct!
So, next time you ask yourself whether attending a networking event will be worth it, or whether you will have anything in common with anyone in the room, think hard before answering! Remember the old saying “To assume, is to make an ASS of U and ME”!
Music for You provides quality live music for all types of Corporate Events. For more  details, please contact Andrew on 07973 869621 or andrew@andrewjonesmusic.com

Why, in the world of music, does mediocrity win over genuine talent and skill?

Its been a while since I last wrote a blog, but I’ve been inspired to put cursor to screen having witnessed music-making of the very highest order this week. Both events were polar opposites, but the levels of skill and talent on display were never in question.

First up was my brass band  “Fest” watching the live streaming of the European Brass Band Championships from Oostende, where 12 of Europe’s finest (including the Cory and Tredegar Bands from Wales and Brighouse & Rastrick Band representing England) were vying for the coveted title.

Tredegar Town Band, 2002 European Brass Band Championships, Belgium

The  24 performances – each Band performed a set-work (Kevin Houben’s “Where Angles Fly”) plus an own-choice work – over the 2 days was quite frankly astounding. I’ve been privileged to have performed at the Europeans on 8 different occasions and the standard of playing since I first appeared in 1990 has risen year on year, to a point where you’d be hard-pressed to say that these weren’t professional ensembles.

Cory Band, 2015 European Brass Band Championships, Germany

Wales once again were at the forefront come results time, with Cory (defending Champions) being placed third and Tredegar coming in fifth. The winning Band this year were Eikanger-Bjorsvik from Norway, led by their inspirational conductor Ingar Heine Bergby, who won following a near 30 year gap since the last time they lifted the trophy. Their stunning own-choice performance of “Fraternity” by Thierry  Deleruyelle will live long in the memory.

Following the Europeans, my next source of inspiration was at Cardiff’s St. David’s Hall, where the wonderful, zany, jaw-dropping, breath-taking etc. etc. “gentlemen” of Mnozil Brass wowed the audience with the mastery of their art. Musicality, power of recall – playing everything from memory, humour, timing, stamina (where do they develop that staying power?), diversity, subtlety and innuendo and so much more. A sheer joy to hear and watch, leaving the audience shell-shocked and spellbound in equal measure. Superlatives are often over-used, but each one I have used was hugely earned and justified.

So, the point of today’s blog is, why do the general public get pawned off with rubbish on television and radio and the publicity given in column inches in the press/social media, when there is so much REAL talent out there? Admittedly, the European Brass Band Championships is very much a niche market, but when Cory Band last year (2016) won the “Grand Slam” of European, National, British Open and Brass in Concert titles (an amazing achievement), they barely made a mention in the local paper. Eikanger’s win at the Euro’s last weekend earned them a massive welcome reception at the airport on their return, with TV and media crews in attendance! Says a lot for what we think of our Champions doesn’t it?

Mnozil however, is an ensemble that could easily be featured on mainstream TV, or at very least on one of the Arts-focused stations. But no, we are subjected to performing dogs or yet another 11-year-old bashing out a Celine Dion hit and being told she has “amazing talent” and will go far etc. etc.

As “defenders of the faith”, perhaps we need to be more pro-active in demanding that the TV companies and media do cater for the more discerning audience and not settle for the rubbish that is often forced down our throats.

A small ray of sunshine in this gloom of mine, was Cory’s invitation to appear on ITV’s ‘Tonight at the London Palladium’ programme hosted by entertainment star Bradley Walsh.

Their performance was recorded live in front of a packed audience of 2,200 people and subsequently broadcast to an estimated audience of over 5 million people last night (03.05.17). Perhaps this is a significant step towards redressing the balance and highlighting the TRUE talent that can and should be presented to audiences the world over.

Here endeth the Lesson!

Stomvi Piccolo Trumpet

Selecting a programme for a Concert?

The opportunities of hearing Brass Quintets in Concert are sadly rare, as most of our work nowadays is either for Weddings or for corporate events, so when Music for You were invited to perform for the Rhymney Valley Music Club, we jumped at the chance.

The Music for You Brass Quintet

The Concert (which is supported by the Night Out Scheme/Arts Council of Wales) takes place on Saturday 1st of April at Siloh Christian Community Centre, Oakfield Street, Ystrad Mynach, Caerphilly, CF82 7AF and starts at 7.15pm.

Before we go any further, I’m in danger of assuming that everyone knows what a Brass Quintet is, so just in case, a Brass Quintet comprises of 2 Trumpets, French Horn, Trombone and a Tuba and this line-up has become the most popular for chamber brass ensembles over the years, as pioneered by the late great Philip Jones. He founded the Philip Jones Brass Ensemble and when they weren’t performing as a 10-piece ensemble, this was their smaller group and he was hugely influential in developing chamber music for brass instruments.

So back to the Concert. Being the sole performers, the evening gives both the Quintet and members of the audience a chance to get their musical teeth into repertoire they would otherwise be unlikely to perform or hear, outside of a Concert setting. This in itself can cause problems however, as musicians often want to get stuck into some really challenging and high-brow repertoire that leaves all but the avid quintet connoisseur underwhelmed and unimpressed. On the flip-side, “dumbing down” a programme to contain a succession of light 3-minute “toe-tappers” or light classical items, means the audience are treated with contempt and the assumption that they couldn’t handle anything more serious than a John Philip Sousa march or maybe (if we were daring enough!), Samuel Scheidt’s (Yes, that’s his real name!) “Battle Suite”.

In compiling our programme for this particular event, we’ve tried to appease both appetites and hope that the audience will discover works by composers covering a 600 year period, that will be both enjoyable, stimulating and perhaps even educational. There will even be music from a living Welsh composer!

The Art v Commerce approach of programming concerts, has and always will be a hot potato for musicians and marketing departments the world over. I’ve always been a strong advocate for introducing audiences to new repertoire and composers, by gently broadening their musical horizons and not metaphorically ramming it down their throats, with the underlying message of “here it is, YOU WILL like it …. or lump it!” or “if you haven’t heard this before, you should have!”.

I very much hope, that we have succeeded in putting together a programme which is balanced for all tastes, but also gives us as performers, a rare opportunity to get our creative “juices” going a bit too. even the Brass Quintet aficionado will discover lots of new repertoire, so don’t expect the “same old, same old” programme!

Without giving too much away, there will be works by Handel, Rimsky-Korsakov, Gordon Langford, Edvard Grieg and Koetsier to name but a few.

So why not pop along and have a listen – it would be great to see you. Remember, there’s nothing quite like live music and even if there is something you want to watch on telly, you can always record it!

In the words of our strap-line “Music for You – it’s just that!”

Here’s a taster of one of the items being performed that evening Procession of the Nobles and you can learn more about Music for You by visiting our website

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Dydd Gwyl Dewi – St. David’s Day

Today (March 1st) is the National Day of Wales – St. David’s Day or Dydd Gwyl Dewi.

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To all my fellow Welsh compatriots “Dydd Gwyl Dewi hapus i chi gyd, ble bynnag yr ydych yn y byd!”. Happy St. David’s Day to you all, wherever you are in the world!

(Picture – The Welsh Dragon Memorial is at Mametz Wood in France, erected to remember the lives lost of soldiers from the 38th Welsh Division during the Battle of the Somme).

 

Mozart – pure genius or a freak?

On this day (October 29th) in 1787, hours before the first performance of his opera “Don Giovanni” is to be given, Mozart is reminded that he is yet to write an Overture. He duly instructs his Wife to serve him punch and tell him fairy tales throughout the night, until the work is complete.

“The ink was hardly dry on some of the pages when they were placed on the desks of the orchestra” – Wenzel Swoboda (Double-bassist in the orchestra).

Conducting - Copy

Wilhelm Furtwängler conducting the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra (Salzburg Festival 1954)

Why have live music for your wedding?

It seems that anyone getting married nowadays is on a quest to find something “different”, “unique” or “unforgettable”. So, when entrusted to perform at someone’s special day and with these ingredients in the mix, there’s just a hint of pressure, both from the Bride and Groom to be and self-imposed by me (as a musician and business owner) to deliver the goods.

Leigh Court, Bristol

Leigh Court, Bristol

The Music for You Brass Quintet was recently booked to perform at Catherine and Ryan’s Wedding Ceremony and Drinks Reception. The venue was the majestic setting of Leigh Court in Bristol, where the acoustics lend themselves brilliantly to brass instruments.

The Music for You Brass Quintet

The Music for You Brass Quintet

The brief was to play some music as the guests arrived for the Ceremony, then play the Processional Music for the Bride (and stunning she looked too!), as she entered to the elegant sounds of Handel’s Air from the Water Music. Music by Gershwin and the Carpenters followed for the signing of the Register, with the rousing sounds of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom heralding the newly married couple out for the Recessional music.

Once the formal part of the day was over, we then entertained the guests during the Drinks Reception, with an eclectic mix of repertoire, ranging from light classics, to songs from the shows, operatic arias, pop songs and music from the silver screen.

During this session, whilst seated just outside the main Reception room, we were asked to move twice. “Too loud” I hear you thinking!!! Not in the slightest – in fact, we were asked to move closer each time, because the guests were gently moaning that they couldn’t hear us and wanted to enjoy the music.

Unfortunately, I was unable to grab a quick word with the Bridal couple before they and their guests departed for the Wedding Breakfast, so was unable to congratulate them personally and get some brief feedback and check that they were happy with our contribution to their special day. I naturally sent a thank you e-mail the following day and asked if they’d be kind enough to share their thoughts on our musical contribution.

In the age where, if someone doesn’t reply to a text, e-mail or voicemail within a maximum of 15 minutes (perhaps less if you’re of a certain generation!) then something’s seriously wrong!!!!!! You go through the terrible “OMG, they hated it”, “We played their most hated piece of music”, “We looked dreadful” etc.

You know that they have got stacks on their plates, even after the Wedding’s all done and dusted and they’ve probably gone on honeymoon, but you’re still on pins wanting to know whether they were happy!

Finally, after some 3 weeks after the Wedding day, an e-mail comes through as follows:

“Andrew was a pleasure to deal with from the first time I got in touch right through until after the day.  He and the musicians have an enormous and diverse repertoire and played beautifully on the day.  It created the most beautiful atmosphere on the day, so much so that I saw my new husband cry for the first time as I walked down the aisle.  I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend.”

Needless to say, I was heady mix of relieved, ecstatic, proud of the efforts of my fellow musicians and reassured that Music for You is capable of providing its clients with “something different, unique and unforgettable”!

For more information about Wedding Music visit our web-site and to hear the Brass Quintet in action you might like to go to our You Tube page for some ideas.

Photograph by Paul Fears Photography.

Photograph by Paul Fears Photography.

 

 

 

Page maintenance

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I’m currently updating the page, so if some stuff looks a little “confused”, it’s because I am too!

Normal service will resume very soon – I hope!

A big shout-out is due to Paul Fears for his input and expertise regarding the “new look” and for encouraging me to be myself.

Thanks for your patience and I hope you enjoy reading the Blogs and the new look for the site.