Enniskillen Royal Grammar School Brass Band has been developed this year under the Musical Direction of Mr Stephen Magee. Mr Magee is well known to all of our brass pupils having been a tutor for the Music Service for many years in both of the legacy schools. With the former schools having very strong traditions in brass ensembles and bands, Mrs Bloomfield and Mr Magee had the vision to form a new ERGS Brass Band this year which would be of a standard to compete with any school band in NI. Following the success of performances at Christmas, most notably at our inaugural Carol Service, the band began work for a serious competition piece in term 2. The goal was to be able to compete at the Brass Band League of Northern Ireland in the Spring Festival. A traditional contest piece ‘Voices of Youth’ by Edward Gregson was chosen with three movements included in the complete Suite. Mr Magee was Musical Director and on occasion extra sectional and full rehearsals were taken by Mrs Bloomfield. On Saturday 8th April the band travelled to the Alley Theatre in Strabane to compete in the Brass Band League of Northern Ireland School Bands Section for the first time. There was a real sense of excitement, tension and (to be expected) some nerves.
ERGS opened strongly with a commanding strength of sound and quality tone which was immediately impressive. Balance and intonation were commented upon later by the visiting Scottish adjudicator Mr Allan Ramsay who highly praised the band’s performance. The expressive second movement featured a lyrical solo by Principal Cornet Chloe Eagleson who found top form and executed this beautifully. Again the adjudicator made particular mention of the quality of the solo playing. The finale started slightly tentatively but really came to life once the rousing waltz-like section commenced. Overall the performance was really excellent, with many fine performances throughout the ensemble culminating in a most impressive overall band sound and performance of top quality.
In addition to the overall result, there was the inaugural presentation of the ‘Stuart Haigh Memorial Trophy’ for the best trombone section. This trophy is in memory of Stuart who was a member of the EA Music Service and who passed away earlier this year. ERGS trombone section were the winners of this trophy. The section is led by Lucy Mills along with Tomas Baternay, Katie Bloomfield, Joshua Martin, Ellen Patterson and Richard Pendry. It was with absolute delight then that Enniskillen Royal Grammar School received the winning prize in the competition. The Musical Director and pupils have worked with energy and enthusiasm over the past weeks and richly deserved this great achievement. Most sincere thanks are due to all involved. Photos included are of the players at the Alley Theatre, along with Mr Magee, Mrs Bloomfield and Miss Rasdale as well as the winning Trombone Section and Principal Cornet Player Chloe Eagleson.