Award-winning Highland Brass group celebrates 10th anniversary
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When Highland Brass was founded in 2013 it was to meet a demand many knew was there but which had little to no outlet.
Reflecting as the band marks its 10th anniversary, committee member and bass trombone player Laura Braid said: “When the band started there were pretty much no brass bands that were close, so a lot of people were looking for somewhere to go and play. So when we started it up all of a sudden we had all of these brass players coming out of the woodwork.
“We have people that come in to play from all across the Highlands; folks come from Brora, Fort William, Aviemore, Grantown-on-Spey and across the Black Isle, even though it's Inverness-based.”
Following a period of rebuilding after the pandemic, Highland Brass was crowned 4th Section Champions at the 2023 Scottish Brass Band Association Championship earlier this year.
As a result the group qualified as one of two Scottish bands for the National Brass Band Championships of Great Britain which will take place in Cheltenham on Saturday, September 16.
The band is fundraising for that trip, as taking over 30 brass players and percussionists, and their instruments, all that way is an expensive undertaking.
“We are one of 10 bands in Scotland but we are certainly the most challenged by our location,” Laura said.
“For most brass bands across the country, they can do it in one day, they can get on a coach, go and compete. We can’t do that. Basically we have to fly the entire band.
"Because we will be leaving from Inverness the flight times don’t work out that well so we have to go all weekend, but we don’t want that to stop us!”
"We are not going to fly with our instruments as it is very expensive. We are going to load them in a van and a couple folks are going to drive them down, but, you know, it's all the fuel costs, it's flight costs, it's hotel costs. It is actually costing us about eight grand to go.
“Fundraising-wise we have done a pub quiz, we have held some coffee mornings, various raffles, bake sales, plant sales, we have busked in Nairn, done concerts and we have a GoFundMe appeal to the local community to try and help us.”
The band community is growing and now also features an award-winning training band, The Highland Future.
“The range of people is from about Primary 3-age learners to adult learners," Laura said. "It's not only for kids, it's for people wanting to learn how to play a brass instrument. We do have a stock of brass instruments that we can give learners to have a go at. We try to engage them in their own competitions – the kids are going to the Scottish Youth brass band championship in November.
“They are very strong themselves, they do their own concerts and Christmas things and act as ambassadors for other musicians around their schools. It is good to really grow it, to be able to offer these kinds of things where you might not be able to get them.”