An ensemble of the finest musicians offering class, quality and versatility

Press and Testimonials

“Superb playing from living legends of the London orchestral brass scene. In these fantastic arrangements it’s sometimes hard to believe these pieces weren’t originally scored for brass. The musicianship throughout is second to none & the sound is an absolute treat.”

CD Review for ‘A Bridge Over The Pyrenees’
Joby Talbot, Composer (Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, The Winter’s Tale, Theatre of Blood)

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This was a cracking concert - Richard Debonnaire - Bromley Trombone Workshop
Review of our 26th June Large Symphonic Brass Ensemble concert

This was a cracking concert, which I had looked forward to with great anticipation! As I’ve posted previously, I have been fortunate to see The Symphonic Brass of London on a couple of previous occasions and when I saw what was on the programme, I was actually quite excited! As a kid, my dad used to drag me along to classical concerts; I say drag, but as I look back 40 odd years, perhaps I wasn’t that unwilling. I went to several concerts with him, but the ones that most stand out in my mind, were those by the stunning Philip Jones Brass Ensemble! So PJBE was a very highly regarded outfit in our house, and a group I was very privileged to hear live several times. My parents took my sister and I to Christmas concerts at the Royal Albert Hall on a couple of occasions to hear The Bach Choir and PJBE. Even now, I get goose bumps when I hear the Sir David Wilcox arrangement’s of Christmas Carols; ‘Hark! The Herald Angels Sing’, or ‘O Come all ye faithful’. Terrific brass arrangements and bolstered by the enormous organ in the RAH. Fabulous to hear, and it made an impression on me as a kid – on one occasion, I got all the autographs of the group whilst they were still on the stage. I got to hear the first (and last) performances of ‘Pictures at an Exhibition’ that PJBE performed, as well ‘West Side Story Suite’, ‘Spitfire – Prelude & Fugue’, ‘Mr Jums’ and so many others as they wowed the ludicrously small audiences they generally played to in the UK (unlike Japan, where they could fill huge concert halls). Why write all this? Well, that’s my bench mark. To me the playing of PJBE was without peer.

Like PJBE, The Symphonic Brass of London is a group made up some of the best brass players in the world, hence my anticipation of this concert, along with the fact that I knew 3 of my favourite works were to be included – and it was being held more or less at the end of my road (slight exaggeration, but the car doesn’t have time to warm up!). This concert was held at the excellent Langley Park Centre for the Performing Arts (an adjunct to the Langley Park School for Boys). The Symphonic Brass of London were fielding 17 players, plus 4 percussionists on the night, and although they were the ‘headline’ act for this concert, it also featured groups from the local community in Beckenham, where they are based, namely Langley Park School for Boys Brass Band and Brass Quintet, Clare House Primary School Brass, BYMT Big Phat Brass andYoung Phat Brass plus BYMT Percussion Ensemble.

The Symphonic Brass of London kicked off with their director of music, Eric Crees at the helm for his superb (a word I’ll try not to overuse) arrangement of J.S. Bach’s fabulous ‘Toccata and Fugue in D Minor’. This is epic music anyway, but oh, what a way to start! From the first notes, the hairs on the back of neck stood on end – it was pure listening pleasure. The quality of the playing, the sound, the note production – all as you would expect – stunning. Following this, there followed items from the various youth groups represented. I was amazed at the standard of these groups; Bromley is blessed with a terrific music education programme, and the results of that were plain for all to see (or hear), as all the groups featured performed to an incredibly high standard.
Between them, they played an exciting range of works, from Superman to Tchaikovsky. It’s not fair to single any one group out, but I will anyway – two actually, which I thought were of particularly hight standard were LPSB Brass Quintet and BYMT Big Phat Brass. The former played really beautifully and included a very well played rendition of ‘A Nightingale Sang on Berkley Square’ with some lovely trombone work, and the latter, BYTM Big Phat Brass played Juan Tizol’s jazz classic, ‘Caravan’ to an incredibly hight standard – if you weren’t watching, you wouldn’t know it was a student group.

The two other major works of the evening were from The Symphonic Brass of London, when they closed the first half with a fabulous performance of William Walton’s ‘Spitfire – Prelude and Fugue’, again arranged and directed by Eric Crees. This is another of my favourite pieces from those long ago PJBE days. I still regularly listen to their recording of this, so it was an absolute joy to hear it live again. The evening closed with the combined forces of the The Symphonic Brass of London, and the senior members of both BYMT and Langley Park School for Boys, to play a suite from Bernstein’s classic, ‘West Side Story’ (arr. Eric Crees). A fantastic arrangement, that I first heard PJBE play towards the end of their time, and one I listen to frequently on a recording by LSO Brass; another favourite. I was initially concerned that the students might find this piece a step too far, but it was quickly very evident that that was not the case. It was a large ensemble, but completely assured throughout, providing a really exhilarating performance of this complex work. There was so much I could highlight from this concert, as the playing was fantastic, but I think if I had to single any one player out (and this is hard for me, as I’m a trombone player), I would probably pick Jason Evans for his superb muted trumpet playing on ‘Somewhere’, but that’s not fair on the others: Chris Deacon for the stunning clarity of his sky-high piccolo trumpet playing, James Buckle for underpinning the trombones, for the tubas of Adrian Miotti & Nick Hutchins…Now I’m in trouble as I’ve not mentioned the horns who were sensational, soaring above the rest of the group – awwww, heck! This was a phenomenal group of players! Kudos to Nick Lloyd and Eric Crees for their leadership of and commitment to this group and all that it does to support young musicians in their development.

One last thing: If this group are ever playing near you, make a special point of going to hear them. You WILL NOT be disappointed!
You can follow The Symphonic Brass of London and BYMT on Twitter @Sympbrasslondon @BromleyBYMT
© Richard Debonnaire

Richard Debonnaire - www.bromleytromboneworkshop.org.uk

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WORLD CLASS MUSIC ON MY DOORSTEP

Review by Peter Morrell of the 6th February Symphonic Brass of London Dectet concert in Beckenham

It is my job to seek out cultural experiences and then introduce them to you, the readers. Living in a south London suburb this means,  at best, a train ride into the centre or, at worst, a flight. So it came as a pleasant surprise to see an advert for a concert, The Best of British Brass,  being held at my local church.

The church, St Barnabas in Beckenham, is a rather attractive late 19th century building with very good acoustics and, as it is only a five minute walk from my house, did not involve trains or boats or planes.

The concert was performed by a dectet drawn from The Symphonic Brass of London, an ensemble of Britain’s finest brass players. The latter part of the performance would feature an orchestra representing the Bromley Youth Music Trust.

The evening was introduced by the conductor and arranger Eric Crees. As many people will know Eric is an internationally renown composer and formed The Symphonic Brass of London in conjunction with Nick Lloyd. The music for the programme stretched from the late 17th century to the present day

The first item was the suite from The Fairy Queen by Henry Purcell. The music originally supported a modernised and condensed version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the six segments took us through the various moods of the story. The second piece was the familiar On Hearing the first Cuckoo of Spring by Fredrick Delius, difficult for a brass band but it was played with sensitivity.

The piece before the interval was Peter Warlock’s Capriol Suite. Crees has arranged this specifically for brass which gave it a very exuberant feel.

Although the venue was a church the atmosphere amongst the packed crowd during the interval had more of a crush bar feel about it. Welcome glasses of red and white wine being available next to the tea and sandwiches.

After the break Simon Wills, one of the ensemble, has composed a series of musical sketches based on characters from John Aubrey’s book Brief Lives. We heard light hearted and amusing characterisations throughout the seven parts.

The final piece was Joby Talbot’s avant garde piece Pitch Black, edited by Eric Crees who had suggested the addition of some percussion to give it extra colour. This was by far and away the most modern part of the programme.

It was then the turn of Ian Rowe to introduce and conduct the Bromley Youth Brass Band. Their first piece was Slaidburn by William Rimmer. This popular march was written by the composer while he was recuperating in the Ribble Valley village of Slaidburn for their Silver Band.

Their second piece was that well known hymn, Parry’s Dear Lord and Father of Mankind, made even more moving by the church setting.

The final work was a modern piece, The Golden Lady, by Goff Richards. This, like the other two pieces, was conducted with energy by Ian and this in turn gave all of their music a very fresh and upbeat feel.

For the finale the ensembles came together for a rousing rendition of The Floral Dance, the enthusiastic clap along by the packed audience an indication of how much everyone had enjoyed the performance.

Accessibility to culture and the arts is essential to keep them alive and well.  Offering people the opportunity to hear a world class concert in a local setting and with the tickets at £5.00 per person and only £1.00 for the under 16s put this uplifting experience within reach of everyone.

Peter Morrell
http://www.theculturalvoyager.com

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TESTIMONIAL AND REVIEW FROM NORWAY 2014

TESTIMONIAL FROM NORDLYSFESTIVALEN – Tromsø
ARTISTIC AND MANAGING DIRECTOR – Øyvind Bakkeby Moe

Dear Nick

I send you a few words on my behalf:

“The concert with The Symphonic Brass of London was an amazing experience. They presented an exciting programme with finesse and virtuosity. World-Class players and a World-Class ensemble.  The Northern Lights Festival strive to present music of the highest quality and The Symphonic Brass of London truly met our expectations.”

Review:
http://www.itromso.no/nyheter/article9021917.ece

The article says in the heading:  “Shining brass.  When the Northern Lights Festival finally introduced a brass ensemble in the program, they presented the very best.”

Let’s stay in touch!

Mvh/Kind regards

Øyvind Bakkeby Moe
Artistic and Managing Director

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REVIEW FROM itromso.no – 26/01/2014

Shining Brass

When the Northern Lights Festival finally decided to introduce a brass ensemble into its concert series, they presented the very best:

The Symphonic Brass of London

Ishavskatedralen (The Arctic Cathedral of the Ice Sea)

Within musical circles it is well known that England is the country that provides the best of the world’s brass playing. When the Symphonic Brass of London is composed of brass soloists handpicked from the British capital’s orchestral scene, it is surely raising the stakes and promising us an ensemble that will be the best of the best. And when the Symphonic Brass of London visited Norway for the first time, the musicians of the ensemble really kept their promise.

French and Spanish

The Symphonic Brass of London is a versatile ensemble that performs in many different shapes and sizes – from brass quintet to full symphonic brass. For the concert in Tromsø, they performed as a Dectet: four trumpets, four trombones, french horn and tuba – supplemented by two percussionists. Director Eric Crees, who also made many of the arrangements in the programme, led the concert.

It consisted of music by French and Spanish composers: Debussy, De Falla and Bizet, to name just a few. The span of colours was vast – from the force and power of Couperin’s military triumphal music, to Bizet’s fiery ‘Carmen Suite’, and the purity of Debussy’s soft and beautiful harmonies in ‘The Girl with the Flaxen Hair’.

Virtuosity and Beauty

The audience was given a varied concert, with much of the music having elements of Spanish folklore, even from the French composer Ravel. We were given a wide breadth of musical expression and a great insight into all the possibilities that a brass ensemble can offer. The concert in Ishavskatedralen had everything.  It was an event that had both elegance and challenges for the group. The ensemble was precise and displayed a large dynamic range and excellent communication of the very beautiful, lyrical, powerful, fiery and lively arrangements. On top of this, the musicians showed excellent instrumental virtuosity.

And, these very talented musicians are not travelling directly home to London. Over the next few days they will share their knowledge by working with students from the Tromsø Conservatory of Music. The result of this cooperation will be presented in a joint performance in the festival’s concert ”Brasserie” in the Spare Bank’s banqueting hall on Tuesday.

Link to un-translated review

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Eric Crees is one of the greatest arrangers for brass music in the world. I do many concerts around the world and I always insist on doing Eric’s arrangements wherever I go. There simply is no better transcriber for brass than Eric Crees.

Jay Friedman
Principal Trombone, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Conductor

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Eric Crees and I have collaborated since 1997, first with the LSO and since 2000 at the Royal Opera House. A consummate professional, he has been front and centre in making the brass section at the Opera House so wonderful.

I’ve had tremendous fun conducting his arrangement of the West Side Story Dances for brass ensemble and percussion - it was fantastic, and I know he’s done many more.

A salute to his continued success!

Sir Antonio Pappano,
Director of Music, Royal Opera House, Covent Garden
Director of Music, Orchestra dell’ Accademia Nazionale di Santa
Cecilia, Rome

Eric Crees is one the country’s most senior, experienced brass players. He has been a leading player in some of our most distinguished orchestras, but his sphere of influence is by no means confined to his playing. As a teacher,arranger and composer, he is equally well-known both in this country and further afield.

Sir Mark Elder,
Music Director of the Halle

“To Eric,

With thanks and great appreciation on all of our collaborations.”
 
John Williams
Film composer (Star Wars, Harry Potter, Superman, Raiders of the Lost Ark etc.)

“The brass, woodwind, keyboard and rhythm section arrangements by the trombonist Nick Lloyd are breathtaking. Hearing Lennon and McCartney’s sweet but forgettable ‘I Won’t Live in a World Without Love’, filled with cross-rhythms and scurrying scales, makes you think you’re listening to a masterpiece.

“Then he takes a real masterpiece like Duke Ellington’s “Mood Indigo”, slips in a delirious 6/8 middle section and makes you gasp”.

David Benedict - The Independent
Review of Imelda Staunton and Her Big Band at the Donmar Warehouse

The Symphonic Brass of London field a hand-picked team of the very top brass players in London.  Their imaginative French and Spanish programme under the steady hand of musical director Eric Crees brought a taste of the Mediterranean to St Lawrence’ s Church in Hungerford, and their expertly balanced, slick ensemble playing combined with individual virtuosity delighted the audience and left them calling for more.

Mark Eynon
Director

Zoe Seenan
General Manager

Newbury Spring Festival May 2013

The Paviors Livery company dines each year in the Egyptian Room at the Mansion House with the Lord Mayor and Sheriffs as our guests. This Banqueting Hall contains a balcony running three sides of the Hall.

As Master of the Company in 2000, I asked Eric Crees whether he could arrange to play some music during and after the dinner. He suggested music by the Venetian renaissance composer Giovanni Gabrieli and appointed twelve of the best brass musicians in London, The Symphonic Brass of London.  He arranged them in three groups on the three sides of the Hall to mimic the arrangement Gabrieli would have employed in Saint Mark’s Church in Venice.

The result was a superb and special sound which reverberated around the Hall to the great appreciation of the liverymen and their guests.  He also composed some music based upon the initials of the then Lord Mayor, the score of which was presented to Sir Clive Martin at the end of the evening.

I can thoroughly recommend The Symphonic Brass of London for any occasion where thrilling top class music making is required.

John Cruse
The Paviors Livery Company

“An Evening of Sinatra: The Definitive Portrait of Frank Sinatra” – November 2012 – Royal Automobile Club, Woodcote Park

The Symphonic Brass of London orchestra provided a great evening’s entertainment. Our Club members had a night to remember with an impressive 18-piece orchestra bringing our main function room alive with music, song and dance. All the organisation was made so easy by the professional manner in which our booking was handled. We look forward to welcoming them back soon to provide future entertainment!

Emily Evans
Senior Events Co-ordinator
The Royal Automobile Club
Woodcote Park

Without doubt Eric Crees is one of the leading brass experts and musicians in the United Kingdom and internationally. His work as a Director and Conductor of brass ensembles is well known world wide with London Symphony Orchestra Brass, Royal Opera House Brass and the Symphonic Brass of London. The Symphonic Brass of London is an ensemble which contains musicians of the highest talent and pedigree from London and the UK brought together by Eric Crees.

Add to this Eric’s sublime talent for transcribing music for brass ensemble of all sizes and the result is a very rare talent.

Philip Biggs
The Brass Herald

“Eric Crees is a hugely influential force within the brass and trombone world. As a player he has performed at the highest level internationally and has been at the top of the orchestral scene in London for the past 30 years. His teaching at the Guildhall School has influenced a generation of young players and his ex-students fill most of the Principal Trombone jobs both in the UK and further afield. As an arranger and conductor he has opened a whole new world of repertoire to performers and audiences alike. His enthusiasm and constant enquiry have yielded a legacy to be proud of.”

Jonathan Vaughan
Director of Music
Guildhall School of Music & Drama

“Eric Crees is simply one of the most complete musicians on the planet! His skills and experience as a trombonist, composer/arranger, as well as teacher are world class. It is my honor and pleasure to know Eric as both a wonderful colleague and great friend.”

Professor Jiggs Whigham
International Jazz Artist
Director BBC Big Band

Booking enquiries

For UK concerts

Email sbol@derekwarby.co.uk
Phone +44 1903 732 141

For international concerts & other enquiries

Email contact@thesymphonicbrassoflondon.com
Phone +44 7889 600 810

 The Symphonic Brass of London album

Listen to our album

A Bridge Over the Pyrenees

“The musicianship throughout is second to none & the sound is an absolute treat.”

Learn more about it and buy the CD, download it or find a service to stream it on.