Onyx Brass is one of the rare breed of chamber ensembles whose musical and technical virtuosity is matched by the accessibility and vitality of their presentation. Their mission is to have their extraordinary abilities at the disposal of the music at all times, and to play music of the requisite quality to reflect the status of the brass quintet as a serious medium for chamber music. The richness and warmth of their sound is remarked upon by all who hear them.
Niall Keatley, trumpet
Niall began his musical studies at the City of Belfast School of Music at the age of nine. While at the C.B.S.M he was a member of the City of Belfast Youth Orchestra, the Big Band and also played with a number of Brass Bands in the Northern Ireland area. In addition, Niall was principal trumpet with the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain performing in some of Europe’s finest concert halls. In 1997 Niall was awarded a scholarship to study at the Royal Academy of Music where his teachers included, John Wallace, James Watson and Ian Balmain. During this time Niall was a member of the European Union Youth Orchestra and also the Verbier Festival Orchestra in Switzerland. In 2002 Niall performed Haydn’s trumpet concerto on BBC television with the Ulster Orchestra as part of the BBC Last night of the Proms, Proms in the Park series. In 2017, After 6 years in the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Niall joined the London Symphony Orchestra as 3rd trumpet.
Alan Thomas, trumpet
Alongside his work with Onyx brass, Alan is also the Joint-Principal Trumpet of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, a position he also held from 2004-13. In between Alan held the position of Principal Trumpet with the BBC Symphony Orchestra which is probably most famous for its performances in the BBC proms season and most notably the Last night of the Proms.
Alan studied at the Birmingham Conservatoire between 1996 and 2000 where he gained a first class honours degree. During this time he won the Shell/LSO prize, playing the Hummel trumpet concerto with the LSO in the Barbican, and won the Brass prize in the Royal Overseas League. He was also a winner of the Musicians Benevolent Fund’s Charles Leggett Award.
Alan moved to London to study at the Royal College of Music under the guidance of Malcolm Smith, Andy Crowley and Paul Archibald. Whilst there, he gained experience freelancing with London Symphony Orchestra, Philharmonia, Royal Opera House, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, London Sinfonietta, London Brass and Ensemble Modern. He returned to the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire in 2004 as a trumpet tutor, was awarded Honorary Membership in 2006 and a Fellowship in 2012, and now holds the position of Associate Head of Brass. He is also a Professor of Trumpet at the Royal College of Music.
Andrew Sutton, horn
Andrew began by playing the tenor horn at his local brass band in Bristol aged 8 but shortly swapped to the french horn, studying at the Royal Academy of Music with Derek Taylor and Richard Watkins. Like the other members of the quintet, while at music college he was a member of the European Union Youth Orchestra.
On leaving the RAM, Andrew has led a varied career in music. As well as being a member of the Orchestra of the English National Opera and the English Chamber Orchestra, he freelances regularly with the London Symphony, BBC Symphony, Royal Philharmonic, Royal Opera House and City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestras. With these groups he has worked with some of the worlds finest musicians and toured extensively around the globe. In addition to Onyx, he has performed with other chamber ensembles such as London Winds, the Haffner ensemble, the Wallace Collection, and the Ensemble Modern of Frankfurt.
Andrew also teaches horn at Eton College and is a member of the group, Campaign For Real Ale.
Amos Miller, trombone
Amos studied at Oxford University and the Royal Academy of Music, learning with John Berry, Eric Crees, Denis Wick and Ian Bousfield, and playing principal trombone for the National and European Youth Orchestras. Having gained the Dip.RAM, the Academy’s highest award for performance, he completed the Jazz Course at the Banff Center for the Arts in Canada, under artists such as Jim Hall and Kenny Wheeler. On leaving the RAM he was awarded the coveted Meaker fellowship.
Amos, along with Dave is a founder member of Onyx and now combines the post of principal trombone with the Royal Ballet Sinfonia and Head of Brass at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire with a busy freelance career in which he has worked as guest principal trombone with all the major London orchestras, the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, and the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, as well as the English Chamber Orchestra, Academy of St. Martin’s, the London Sinfonietta and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. He has also appeared on more than thirty film soundtracks, including ‘Lord of the Rings’, ‘Harry Potter’, ‘Terminator Salvation’, and ‘Inception’. Abroad, he has worked with Ensemble Modern of Frankfurt and is guest principal with the Orquesta Ciudad de Granada in Spain. He is also a member of the City of London Sinfonia.
He is the co-author of “Time Pieces for Trombone” for the Associated Board, and is the author of “A New Tune a Day for Trombone”, published by the Boston Music Company. He is a trustee of the Clarence Myerscough and Christopher Horn charitable trusts and is an Associate of the Royal Academy of Music.
David Gordon-Shute, tuba
David trained at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, Cambridge University and the Royal Academy of Music. Through the fantastic experiences of the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain and the European Union Youth Orchestra came a passion for music: both playing and teaching.
David regularly freelances with the major London orchestras including the LSO, RPO, LPO, Orchestra of the Royal Opera House and the BBC Orchestras and has enjoyed playing on various soundtracks including The Two Towers and Zero Dark Thirty. David has been the tuba teacher at Eton College since 2001, receiving a promotion in 2009 to Head of Brass. In addition, he has coached the tuba section of the NYO, the brass section of the Herts County Youth Orchestra and given masterclasses all over the world with Onyx Brass including the Juilliard School in New York.
Since 2009 David has been branching out as a conductor. He is currently musical director of Cardiff University Symphonic Winds, Hertfordshire County Youth Wind Sinfonia and Conductor of the Eton College Symphonic Wind Band, as well as occasional guest conductor with other groups including the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire Wind Band. He combines this work with his teaching, performing as principal tuba of Birmingham Royal Ballet and, more recently, as a humanist funeral celebrant.