Abbey Brass was formed in 1983 by trombonists John Powell (of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra) and James Fulkerson (the eminent American composer and soloist). Then, as now, it combined players based in the West Country with others based in London and other musical “hubs” (the original line-up usually included performers from the BBC Symphony Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra and Royal Ballet Orchestra) in a variety of ensemble sizes and instrumentations, to perform concerts and lecture recitals, at weddings and in conjunction with choral societies, the length and breadth of Great Britain and in France.
As a celebration of its first quarter century, Abbey Brass toured Italy as a dectet of American, British, Danish and Swedish players and academics. Its repertoire ranged from the Renaissance to both “art” and “light” music of the present day, bringing together a vast range of performance experience from all points of the compass, from the Northern Sinfonia via the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House Covent Garden to Teatro Massimo di Palermo, and from Dallas Symphony Orchestra to Malmo Opera House.
More recently, Abbey Brass later performed at the Vigonza Festival, in Veneto, NE Italy, in quintet format.
In 2015, Abbey Brass commissioned Paul Drayton’s Antique Suite for brass dectet (click here for programme notes), which it premiered on May 16th in Plymouth and then repeated on September 25th 2016 in Penzance. This has proved a very valuable addition to the repertoire.
On 25th November 2016 Abbey Brass accompanied Exeter Festival Chorus in From Darkness to Light. Voices on War and Reconciliation, a programme including works by Jonathan Willcox, Henry Purcell and John Rutter.
In February 2017 Abbey Brass trumpeters Paul Thomas (Cornwall) and Jason Camilleri (Gozo) performed Baroque Angels, a series of concerts with organist Nigel Wicken in Fowey, Falmouth and Penzance. These featured the first performances of Three Places in Old Cornwall (for programme details click here), a work dedicated to Paul Thomas and written by Paul Drayton; alongside works by Petronio Franceschini, Vincent Lubeck, Oscar Boehme, John Morrisey, GF Handel, Joseph Haydn and Francesco Manfredini.
On Good Friday 2017, Abbey Brass Quintet premiered the musical accompaniment by Andrew Wilson to The Tavistock Passion, in the open air in Tavistock.
On 6th May 2017, Abbey Brass premiered A Ceremony of Psalms (for brass ensemble, choir and organ – for programme details click here) by Paul Drayton, in St John’sMethodist Church, St Austell. This is a homage to Stravinsky and Britten and was performed alongside Rutter’s ever popular “Gloria”.
Abbey Brass would be happy to provide you with any combination of players, from a single trumpet player with an organist, via the ever popular quintet format to the rich, symphonic sound of the dectet and beyond.