Onyx Brass performs concerts worldwide, offering programmes built from a vast repertoire. The group plays a wealth of music from original compositions to arrangements of religious music; from ceremonial fanfares to songs from the shows; from the beautiful simplicity of a Bach fugue to the stomp of a Copland ballet. Individual requests are preferred but, if asked to, the group can come up with a suitable programme sure to have broad appeal which, also manages to challenge its audience. Onyx has a particular commitment to commissioning and performing new works. This is exemplified by having the celebrated and critically-acclaimed Tim Jackson. as the ensemble’s composer-in-association. The group is also acutely aware of how daunting new music can be for an audience. Every step is, therefore, taken to ensure that pieces are palatable on a first listening and that the audience is furnished with as much relevant information as possible. Onyx would like people to enjoy listening to new music as much as the group enjoys playing it.
Wherever their recital work takes the ensemble, a commitment to schools goes with them. A typical day sees the group giving a number of short schools concerts or workshops, followed by an evening recital. Onyx has a themed workshop day called A Sporting Chance. This is based on a piece written for the group by Bob Chilcott and involves a schools choir working with Onyx for the day. Each movement of the piece describes a different sporting discipline, including sprinting trumpets, a soccer rap and an ice skating trombone! Along with them an optional set of dancers and actors from the school may participate. The whole day is then directed by an highly experienced animateur and will include a performance to parents at the end of the day. This highly successful project began in 2000 in conjunction with Making Music (formerly National Federation of Music Societies) and toured over the U.K.
After gaining sponsorship from ING Barings, Onyx repeated the project to great acclaim in schools within the London Borough of Hackney.
Onyx Brass are also very active and experienced in the field of music education, having conducted workshops and master classes for a huge range of people. They have directed educational days at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, and have just relinquished their post as ensemble-in-residence at Radley College, Oxfordshire. More recently, Onyx went back to the National Youth Orchestra for a day and coached the talented young brass students for a cooperative concert that evening.
International highlights were the invitations to host masterclasses for students at The Julliard School, New York, The Boston Conservatory and The University of Idaho, during the ensemble’s 2006 Tour of the USA. The success of these sessions can been seen from the comments on the press page.
For details on the contents of an Onyx educational visit please contact us.
Since 2001, Onyx Brass have focussed a lot more intently on repertoire for brass and choir. This is mainly due to their hugely beneficial partnership with the John Armitage Memorial charity. This organization promotes between 2 and 5 concerts a year which are held in churches and halls across the country. The programme is always based around a major commission and then supported by submitted entries from composers yet to break in to the mainstream. These are then assessed and selected by a panel of distinguished composers and musicians. In the past, Tim Jackson, Jonathan Dove, John McCabe and Paul Patterson, Judith Bingham and Tarik O’Regan have composed the featured commission. The concerts involve the BBC Singers and the choir of Selwyn College, Cambridge. Onyx are very proud to be part of an organization which fosters new compositional talent as well as commission major works each year from established composers.
Additionally, the music of John Rutter explores the repertoire for brass and choir with great success. Onyx are regularly asked to accompany choirs and choral societies in performances of his Gloria. The group has numerous other dazzling works in its repertoire should promoters be in need of more brass/choir repertoire to draw on.
For more information go to www.jamconcert.org
Testimonials from Conductors and Choral directors:
“I have been lucky enough to work with Onyx Brass on many occassions with the John Armitage Memorial (JAM) organisation for new choral work. It is always a total pleasure. Their commitment to the music, enthusiasm for new compositions, professional yet always relaxed and supportive approach is exemplary. They make ideal choral partners and I am looking forward to many future concerts with them” Nicholas Cleobury – BBC Singers, Selwyn College (John Armitage Memorial)
“They are a superb group of players. They were a joy to work with and, of course, totally reliable in every way as well as being wonderfully sensitive and constantly aware of balance in their accompanying of the Windsor and Eton Choral Society” Ralph Allwood – Rodolfus Choir, Windsor and Eton Choral Society, Eton Chapel Choir
“Onyx Brass are a slick, versatile ensemble who bring expertise and experience to the initial planning stages through to the rehearsing and execution of a performance. They are seasoned accompanists of vocal ensembles and their positive approach produces a secure and fun musical experience for choirs and audience” Dan Ludford-Thomas – Hackney Singers
“Laudate has worked with Onyx Brass on a number of occasions and without exception, every time has been a very positive experience. Their outstanding musicianship, coupled with their very personable manner makes rehearsing together a pleasure. Onyx Brass have a genuine understanding and empathy with the workings of a choir and their sensitivity towards the singers, especially in matters of balance and blend, are to be commended.” Howard Ionascu – Laudate choir
“Onyx Brass came to play with Eltham Choral Society for our annual Christmas Concert. The group worked to an extremely high level performing 16th century repertoire and popular carol arrangements with equal proficiency. They were easy to work with, well-organised and friendly, developing a good rapport with the choir who immediately warmed to their wonderful playing and unique brand of humour. They have all asked that they be invited back again next year!” Peter Asprey – Eltham Choral Society