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Bugle call brings 129-year-old Arbroath Instrumental Band back from the brink

Arbroath Instrumental Band has enjoyed a boost in numbers for 2022. Pic: Mhairi Edwards/DCT Media.
Arbroath Instrumental Band has enjoyed a boost in numbers for 2022. Pic: Mhairi Edwards/DCT Media.

A plea for new talent has paid off for Arbroath Instrumental Band.

And the 129-year-old organisation hopes it may even make a return to the competitive stage this spring.

The Arbroath Instrumental Band is one of the oldest surviving musical groups in Angus.

But a lack of numbers – especially young players – and the pandemic had thrown its future into doubt.

Arbroath Instrumental Band
The band is hopeful of returning to competition this year. Pic: Mhairi Edwards/DCT Media.

President Ann Ness made a plea for new members late last year.

She has a 50-year association with the band, following in the footsteps of her late father, Vic Lewis.

And in 2011 she was honoured with a lifetime medal by the Scottish Brass Band Association.

Arbroath Instrumental Band
Arbroath Instrumental Band president Ann Ness. Pic: Steve MacDougall/DCT Media.

Ann said it would be heart-breaking if the band – formed in 1893 – had to fold.

So she was thrilled when there were enough players to perform in Arbroath during the festive period.

St Andrews University link

And a new tie-up with St Andrews University looks like securing the group’s future heading towards the milestone 130th anniversary.

Ann said: “It was great to be out and about playing in public for the first time since lockdown.

Arbroath supermarket shoppers were treated to brass band carols in the run up to Christmas.

And the band had been lined up to perform in the Carnoustie Musicale before the rise in the Omicron variant forced the popular event’s cancellation.

Arbroath Instrumental Band
Band practice in Carnoustie. Pic: Mhairi Edwards/DCT Media

Ann said: “We were out in Arbroath playing Christmas carols with small groups of musicians.

“It was great to be out in public again for the first time since lockdown.”

Posted by Arbroath Instrumental Band on Wednesday, 8 December 2021

Principal coronet Ann added: “We have also started six beginners.

“And we were contacted by St Andrews University who are also helping with some recruitment.”

A host of youngsters from the Arbroath, Carnoustie and Monifieth areas have taken up brass through the St Andrews Music Participation (StAMP) programme.

It is a music education partnership between the university’s Laidlaw Music Centre, Fife Music Service, Fife Brass Bands and the Wallace Collection.

Arbroath Instrumental Band
A study in concentration during practice. Pic: Mhairi Edwards/DCT Media.

Ann added: “They have recruited 17 youngsters who will join us in May.

“And we are thinking of competing at the Scottish championship in March after all.”

“But we are still in need of players, particularly tuba and coronet.”

The band meets on Monday evenings for rehearsals in Carnoustie’s Panbride Church hall.

Anyone interested in joining should contact the group through its Facebook page or phone Ann on 07903 682397.

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