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Drummers are on song

By Annabella Gamboni

Two young Wairarapa men, both drummers, are in tune with the New Zealand Brass Band Association.

Josh Engel, 18, and Callum Riach, 16, have successfully auditioned for the New Zealand Youth Brass Band (all players under 23) and the Secondary Schools Brass Band (school students only), respectively.

For Josh, who is looking to study jazz at Victoria University next year, it is his second year playing in the youth band as a percussionist.

Even though he’s been playing on some sort of drumkit since he was 10 years old, he still finds the experience challenging.

“But it’s pretty amazing, because the conductor David Bremner, and all the musicians, are among the best in the country,” he said.

“It’s a whole new music world, and it’s definitely inspirational. It shows me I can just go further and further.”

Callum is a Year 12 student at Rathkeale College.

Percussion is also his favoured instrument, but he decided to take a risk and audition as a cornet player this year, he said.

“I wanted to try out the challenge of a different instrument, and I got in,so I can’t be too bad,” he said.

“There are many talented people in the band who really challenge you – and it’s good to experience the glory of it all.”

Executive officer of the Brass Band Association Helen Lee said the bands are about giving young musicians the attention and expertise to develop their talents.

Members of both the bands have the opportunity to attend training camps with specialist conductors in Christchurch, followed by a public concert.

The youth band, as the slightly older and more experienced lot, go on a national tour with three or four different stops, and then as the occasion arises, an international tour – previous youth bands have visited Britain, Australia, Japan and China, she said.

It was also a chance for young musicians to meet like-minded people, she said.

“But the best thing is that all players meet kids their own age from around the country who are all into the same hobby. While a kid might be the only brass player at their school — here they are part of a team all doing the same thing and enjoying it.”

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