Onyx Brass

Press

For recitals

“With its scrupulous attention to balance, timbre and nuance of phrasing, it is reminiscent of the Philip Jones quintet in its prime, where total integration of five musical personalities becomes an ensemble that is much more than the sum of its parts….five stars.” BBC Music Magazine

“You have hit the jack-pot with these artists. Our audience just loved them. Almost a week later people are calling me about how much they enjoyed the concert. There were a number if things beyond their impeccable presentation and performance. The group really warmed up the audience at the Pre-concert. At the concert, the patter between numbers was both informative and humorous. Their personalities drew the audience in immediately. Several people remarked about the program which for which we worked together to have a very sophisticated mostly non-transcribed works. It certainly helped to have the composer of some of the works actually present and playing in the concert. Although we cannot guarantee them the thrill of the Miss USA contestants again, we would like to have them back in several years. They were phenomenal.” Holly Thomas, Candlelight

“Bravo the Onyx!” Philip Jones

“The accomplished Onyx Brass.” The Times, London

“One of Britain’s classiest brass acts…stands apart from the rest of the field…holds its own as one of the finest brass groups in the country…audience enjoyment is paramount….If you ever see a concert by Onyx advertised, it is certainly worth a visit to listen to this energetic and dynamic brass group, which is busy attracting audiences to the genre of new brass music.” British Bandsman magazine, England

“Brilliant…the quality of brass tone and clarity of technique was evident. The members of the quintet shared responsibility for educating and entertaining the audience in a witty and informative manner….delighted the audience.” The Barrie Examiner, Canada

“Really top-notch! A wonderful ensemble.” Kevin Stees, James Madison University, Harrisonburg VA, presenter

“One of the most engaging concerts I have attended in some time. Their obvious enthusiasm for the repertoire was infectious. I’ve never heard contemporary music sound so accessible. The audience loved it.” Tom Lewis, EMI Classics

“A wonderful experience. The young men were most pleasant, with enthusiastic and upbeat personalities, and their execution of the program was masterful. They took time to explain their music to the audience in a very warm and personable way, and then played it to perfection.” Jeanette Beck, Palm Coast FL, presenter

“What a terrific success the concert by Onyx Brass was. The large audience was obviously taken with these wonderful music makers. Not only are the members of Onyx Brass superb musicians able to produce rich, burnished sounds, they are also some of the most amiable and simpatico young musicians we have encountered in 25 years of presenting concerts.” Richard Cummins, Greene Memorial Church, Roanoke VA, presenter

“The Onyx Brass concert was wonderful. It was a great program and beautifully performed. British brass players produce a very special sound. Members of the Onyx Brass were also great to deal with and members of the audience enjoyed visiting with them after the concert.” Tom McClintock, Corvallis-OSU Music Association, OR, presenter

“We were Thrilled with Onyx Brass! Top-notch musicianship and entertainment all the way around. I can’t think of a better way to generate excitement and kick off our season.” Mike Lamb, Springfield IL, presenter

“Onyx Brass’ recital was a blend of fun, wit and wonderfully exciting music” Brighton Argus May 2004

“The Onyx Brass quintet came to Weymouth Music Club with the high standards of musicianship that we have come to expect — technical expertise, rhythmic precision, beautiful tone and great ensemble playing” Dorset Echo, November 2004

“One of the best professional groups in the business………..in short Onyx Brass looks and sounds like a smart operation.” Classical Music Magazine, April 2006

For Higher Education:

“The Onyx Brass gave a wonderful master class for us at the Juilliard School last week. They played beautifully and had some great suggestions for the groups in our brass chamber music seminar. We’re looking forward to a return visit.” Raymond Mase, American Brass Quintet, Chair of Brass at The Juilliard School.

“The Onyx Brass was a joy to have here on campus.  Their professionalism, insight and humor made for an exciting and educational afternoon for our students.” Larry Isaacson, Assistant Director of the Music Division, Brass Chair, The Boston Conservatory

“Everything went very well with the Onyx performance and residency.  Despite their long trip, and evident fatigue, I had nothing but rave reviews of their masterclasses and their two  school events:  these guys are charming, able to  address a wide variety of age and experience  levels, and most accommodating.  We loved having  them here, and would be happy to have them back  some time.” Mary Dupree, University of Idaho

“The masterclass day with Onyx Brass was absolutely fantastic – some of the best ensemble teaching I have ever received. It was great to play alongside the group in concert, and to participate in a professional style rehearsal gave me a great insight in to the working of a top flight brass quintet. I certainly learnt a lot from the day and would relish the opportunity of doing something similar again” Huw, member National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain.

“Challenging programme with friendly and down to earth presentation”  “A good mix of orchestral and chamber skills with lots of helpful advice”  “Inspiring and good natured music making” Students from Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama

“Refined and beautiful quintet playing,with presentation and teaching skills of the  highest order” Kevin Price, Head of Brass, Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama

“This group is top class. They won a John Tunnell Trust award, which is a rare distinction. Their educational work is also very advanced and right up to date. A group which can operate anywhere.” John Miller, Head of Brass Studies, Royal Northern College of Music

For Primary Education:

“The performance was excellent in all respects. I feel honoured to have had musicians of such high calibre perform in our school hall! There was a perfect balance of listening and learning for the children and the whole presentation was delivered in such a lively, funny and child-friendly way. The children obviously thoroughly enjoyed it and to hold the attention of that many, some of whom were only 5 and 6, for nearly an hour on a Friday afternoon is no mean feat! I know that our existing brass players will have been inspired and I feel confident that many others will have been encouraged to take up a brass instrument. It is so important in these days of tests and league tables to expose children to a wider range of learning experiences and you certainly did that for us. It was also a real treat for the staff who were in there-we don’t usually have such exciting visitors! Please do let us know if there are any other opportunities we could take up, or of any concerts you are doing in Oxford-I’m sure my brass players would be interested.” Penny Dwyer, Music Co-ordinator. Windmill School, Oxford

“The climax of the afternoon was undoubtedly A Sporting Chance” by Bob Chilcott.  Here, Onyx Brass combined with the Wyke Regis Junior School choir…The 10 year olds were full of confidence and verve, articulating every word, singing and moving in unison and enjoying every moment — as did the packed audience”  Dorset Echo, November 2004

“You were so cool you played weaked (sic) tunes. I wish we can do another concert” Begum, aged 7 Thomas Fairchild School(TFS), Hackney

“This letter goes to Amos. Amos I am a fan, Thank you because now I am in a brass instrument playing club” Cavi, aged 8 TFS, Hackney

“You helped us sing v. well and you were all brilliant (sic)” Danielle, TFS, Hackney

“The evening concert was really good. I really enjoyed it. I felt like someone really special. The perants (sic) really enjoyed it too” Malika TFS, Hackney

Recordings:

on the album Time to Time…

“Onyx Brass, a versatile quintet founded in 1993, prides itself in its dedication to modern composers, expanding the repertoire with new arrangements and commissions…..Dances from Rodeo, Copland’s 1942 wild west ballet (arr. Joseph Hollings) launch the disc with a swagger. The elegiac and moving Two Cairns by Stuart MacRae (b 1976) and Time to Time by Timothy Jackson (b 1972) – melancholy settings persuasively sung by Mark Stone………This is an eclectic ear-opener of a disc, virtuosically played.”  The Guardian,July 10, 2011

 on the album Fugue…

“Their tone is clean and the phrasing well shaped, with intelligent application of slurs.” The Times, June 21, 2008

“This is a splendidly planned and executed release, which no devotee of either composer could fail to enjoy…Apart from the exhilaration of the playing and the superb quality of the recording, made in a north London church, the disc has a nice pogical structure…” IRR, July/August 2008

“Five stars out of five… the premise of this delightful album builds a dialogue between Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier and Shostakovich’s own studies in the form, orhcestrated for the clarion tones of the Onyx Brass ensemble…Bach’s originals emerge refreshed by this new instrumental context” Classic FM Aug 2008

“Onyx Brass come alive as responsive individuals most readily in the Shostakovich.  The G major fugue is supremely virtuoso, the E minor resplendent and dramatic, the D major questing and deft.  And then comes the urgency of the G sharp minor, the multi-layered A flat and the orchestrally-inspired struggle of the D minor (marked resonancesof the Fifth Symphony in its new guise) – all delivered with a liberated and characterful imagination…The real achievement, however, is the Shostakovich, already downloaded on my iPod as some of the most thrilling chamber brass-playing of its kind.” Gramophone, Sept 2008

“Onyx brass has established itself as one of the finest exponents of brass chamber music and education in the UK and this recording affirms their outstanding ability to communicate and perform… Produced by Rachel Smith, this CD captures the intimate, vocal sound of the Onyx players with consistently refined balance and clarity…Each tonally matched fugue in this recording demonstrates that Onyx brass is a combination of musicians who have a unified musical philosophy and skills which together produce an ensemble of rare quality… Onyx brass is one the finest examples of the British brass quintet, not only perpetuating the traditions and style of the Philip Jones Brass ensemble but also extending the repertoire, aspirations and reputation of brass chamber music.” Brass Herald, late 2008, Kevin Price, Head of Brass RWCMD Autumn 2008