Composers Corner - Gareth Brown

Gareth Brown began playing the piano at the age of 4, trombone at the age of 7 and drums and percussion at the age of 10. Also at the age of 10 he wrote his first piece of music (a duet for flute and trombone to play with his sister), and began playing in the National Children's Orchestra. Throughout his teenage years, he also played in the Stockport, Northern and Cheshire Youth Orchestras.

He went on to study music at Goldsmiths' College, University of London, graduating in 1994, and whilst he was there, he obtained a diploma in trombone teaching from the Royal College of Music.

Since then, Gareth has had a career as a brass teacher, something which he has done for over 20 years now. He teaches at various schools in Cheshire, as well as a local music centre, and also runs and assists in the running of various school brass and jazz groups.

He has been the principal trombonist in the Wilmslow Symphony Orchestra since 1996, and plays in a number of other orchestras in the area on a more occasional basis, along with various brass quintets and 10-piece brass ensembles, and the VBS Poynton Brass Band.

Gareth is a committed Christian, and had the wonderful opportunity of being able to bring his faith and musicianship together when he found himself in the position of being able to start a marching band in the town of Jinja in Uganda, with frequent trips there between 2002 and 2006 taking out brass instruments. The Jinja Nile Brass Band is still going strong to this day.

Gareth lives in Handforth in Cheshire and attends his local church, where he is the Director of Church Music, and can usually be found playing the piano on a Sunday morning. He also organises an annual Chamber Music Concert there, as well as assembling a Brass Ensemble in the centre of Handforth every Christmas Eve to accompany a Churches Together in Handforth Carol Singing event (“Carols in the Paddock”).

Over the years, Gareth has composed and arranged music on an occasional basis for various groups, including jazz-style arrangements and worship songs. It is an area of his musical life which he is looking to develop, particularly as he has access to a wide variety of groups in which to try out new pieces.

Gareth is married to Tracy and they have a white West Highland Terrier dog named Mackintosh, and a horse called Walter, who is stabled close to where they live.

We put some questions to Gareth to find out more about the man behind the music...

Who is your biggest inspiration?
As a practising Christian, I would definitely say Jesus, as he has inspired me in all aspects of my life. Humanly speaking, my Mum and Dad for allowing me to develop my musical interests, and being such a source of inspiration and encouragement.

Which musician, past or present, would you most like to meet?
James Morrison, the Australian multi-instrumentalist. He is an astounding player on so many instruments and makes the impossible possible, especially on brass instruments.

Where is the most unusual place that you have performed?
In the middle of a field in Jinja, Uganda in the middle of February in 35 degree heat, in a marching band, playing Jingle Bells!

What is your favourite meal?
I'm pretty traditional here, so I will go with roast beef & Yorkshire pudding with all the trimmings, and with trifle for dessert.

What hobbies do you have, other than music?
My wife Tracy and I own a horse called Walter, so looking after him would definitely be up there, along with walking our dog Mackintosh - a white West Highland Terrier.

What is your favourite piece of music to play?
Holst - Concertante for Trombone and Organ - a most uplifting piece. I have mostly played it accompanied by CD backing, but I did once have the opportunity to play it with organ in a concert in a large church, which was awesome.

How old were you when you first started playing an instrument?
When I was 2 years old, I was watching "Play School" on TV and a man came on playing a trombone. After that, I pestered my parents for a trombone, and finally had one for my 7th birthday! I also started playing the piano at the age of 4 and the drums when I was 10.

If you didn’t have a career in music, what would you be doing now?
Music has been a part of my life for so long that it is difficult to imagine doing anything else, but I guess that I could have ended up being a church minister, or something completely different such as a sports commentator or journalist, as I enjoy watching sport for relaxation.

If there’s one thing you could tell yourself when you were growing up, what would it be?
Go with your dreams and don't worry about what anyone else thinks - it is OK to be different from everybody else.

What’s your favourite joke?
Can I have 2?
1. What cheese can you hide a horse with? Mascarpone.
2. Why are trumpet players like pirates? They are both murder on the high Cs.

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