Connaught Brass

Tuesday 19 March 2024

Aaron Akugbo – Trumpet/piccolo trumpet

Harry Plant – Trumpet

Robyn Blair – French horn

Chris Brewster – Trombone

Aled Meredith-Barrett – Tuba

MOGENS ANDRESENPrelude & Reinlendere from 3 Norwegian Dances
STEVEN VERHELSTSuite from Pulcinella 2.0
FLORENCE PRICEAdoration (arr. Blair)
LILI BOULANGERSelections from Clairières Dans le Ciel (arr. Foster)
CLARA SCHUMANNRomance (mvt 2, Op. 22) (arr. Blair)
KURT WEILLSuite from The Threepenny Opera (arr. Foster)

Top Brass: From Clara to Kurt

It's a very welcome return to Skipton for rising-star trumpeter Aaron Akugbo, who last performed for us alongside Matilda Lloyd and the Solus Trumpet Ensemble in April 2022.

Connaught Brass are quickly making a name for themselves as a fresh talent in the chamber music world. Having already made their debut at the Lucerne Festival and London's Wigmore Hall, the ensemble's ability to manipulate and unify sound earned them 1st Prize in the Inaugural Philip Jones International Brass Ensemble Competition (2019) and the Royal Over-Seas League Mixed Ensemble Competition (2022). Vibrant, spirited and bold, the group place emphasis on their friendship with one another to showcase their individual musical personalities within a unique collective sound.

Prior to their Philip Jones Competition win, Connaught Brass won the Worshipful Company of Musicians Brass Ensemble Prize in 2018, and travelled to France shortly after to participate in the music festival Ferrandou Musique. More recently, the quintet have become Artists of the Tillett Trust, City Music Foundation and Kirckman Concert Society, and attended the prestigious Britten Pears Chamber Music Residency 2022.

Connaught Brass' ambition is to explore and share the broadest range of musical repertoire with as wide an audience as possible, bringing brass chamber music to the forefront of today's musical world.

To find out more about the artists see

Photo credit: Benjamin Ealovega

With kind support from Skipton Rotary


Blown away by Connaught Brass

Skipton Music’s highly successful season ended with a spell-binding concert by the brass quintet Connaught Brass.

One expects brass ensembles to be – well, brassy – and the quintet did not disappoint in the lively opening number, Mogens Andresen’s fanfare and dance in Norwegian folk style; and later in the suite of rollicking numbers from Kurt Weill’s ‘Threepenny Opera’. But what made this concert very special were the delicate and subtle sounds that these brilliant players were able to conjure out of their instruments. A ‘Romance’ by Clara Schumann sounded as if made to measure for brass quintet, but even more astonishing were the five hauntingly beautiful chansons by Lili Boulanger, with each instrument in turn delivering the melody and the composer’s highly idiomatic piano accompaniments expertly transcribed for the remaining instruments.

For me, the stand-out piece in this superbly varied programme was the ‘Street Song’ by the American composer and conductor Michel Tilson Thomas, originally for a larger brass ensemble but sounding totally convincing in this reduced version. If there were echoes of Aaron Copland – his ‘Quiet City’ and ‘Appalachian Spring’ for instance – that is only a compliment to the subtle harmonies and jaunty dance rhythms of this compelling piece. Connaught Brass were worthy ambassadors, handling the considerable technical demands with easy virtuosity and revelling in the haunting dissonances. A truly memorable finale to a wonderful season of first-class music making.

Charles Dobson