10 Questions with… Joshua Fleming
American Brass Bander Explains His Experience of UK Brass Banding
He is the Solo Euphonium for the Wingates Band (and a band mate of mine), who originally hails from the US of A, but has been studying in the ‘RNC of M’. After just over a year of playing with Wingates, he has completed his Master’s and the time has come to move back to the states - but not before I collar him for an interview! From his highlights of living, studying and performing in the UK to the differences between British and American brass banding, I’m delighted to share with you 10 questions with…Joshua Fleming!
1) Tell us a bit about life in America…
I grew up in Olney, Maryland, one of the northernmost towns of the Washington DC metropolitan area. I studied at Shenandoah Conservatory of Shenandoah University from 2013-2017, where I earned my Bachelors of Music in Music Education with a Performance Certificate in Euphonium.
Starting in 2017, I was the instrumental music teacher at Forest Oak Middle School in Gaithersburg, Maryland, where I taught wind band, jazz band, orchestra and piano for three years. From 2017 - 2020, I was the Solo Baritone Horn with Rockville Brass Band and occasionally depping with Atlantic Brass Band in Glassboro, New Jersey. Additionally, I performed trombone for musical pit orchestras in the Maryland/DC area with the following companies:
The Free Theatre
Rockville Musical Theatre
Frederick Towne Players
Other Voices Theatre
Kensington Arts Theatre
2) What did you study at the RNCM and why did you choose to study there?
I have been completing my Masters of Music in Euphonium Performance under the guidance of both Steven Mead and David Thornton. I have always trusted my ‘gut’ when making life decisions, and since I was 15 I knew, at some point in my life, I wanted to travel to the North of England to experience the brass band culture. Additionally, growing up in the US, while having many exceptional teachers and inspirations along my musical journey, none of them were Euphonium specialists. Having the opportunity to learn from two individuals who have achieved exceptional and fulfilling careers on the Euphonium was an opportunity I could not pass up.
3) Why did you choose to join the Wingates Band?
I was informed of an opening on Solo Baritone in May last year. Having played for Second and First section bands in my banding career, I felt that this was the opportunity to see if I could really achieve a standard of playing at the highest and most competitive level.
4) How have brass bands in the UK been different from the US?
The main difference is the longer history and pedigree of the British bands compared to the American ones. I often share with others that there are about the same number of bands in the US as there are in the UK, but across a much larger country. For American bands, it is still a growing and expanding culture, one that I full intend on having a say in its growth, especially with youth bands and giving young brass musicians the opportunities that I was unable to have growing up.
5) What have been your musical highlights during your time in the UK?
Completing my Master’s recital performing John Golland’s Euphonium Concerto No. 2, premiering ‘Where Lies the Key’ by Andy Herring (a work I commissioned, based on my own poetry) and ending with Arthur Pryor’s ‘Blue Bells of Scotland” on Baritone. Performing in my first contest in the Solo Euphonium chair with Wingates band at the 2023 Grand Shield contest. Being able to share a studio with 21 other phenomenal euphonium players at the RNCM and being able to witness their growth and blossoming careers. I cannot wait to see where their musical careers take them.
6) How would you describe your time with the Wingates Band?
Wingates is an incredibly welcoming band, one that as long as the musical expectations are being met, it is a joy to be at every rehearsal - no matter how I was feeling that day. Being able to sit in both the Solo Baritone and Solo Euphonium seats and experiencing the expectations that come from both those seats, in a Championship Band is an education I could receive nowhere else.
7) What are your plans for when you return to the US?
I intend on returning to teaching Instrumental Music in a middle school or high school (secondary school and college sixth form levels) within the DMV (DC, Maryland and Virginia). Musically, I am looking to get involved with a band in the area that will let me help guide them musically to meet the standards of the bands here in the UK and to create and direct youth bands. Outside of music, I intend on furthering my literary career by looking to publish my poetry and stories that I am in the process of writing and to spend more time in the forests of the Appalachian Mountains.
8) What is your favourite memory from your time playing in Wingates Band?
Just how supportive and welcoming the band has always been to me. There are no stand out memories, because it has all been incredibly special and meaningful to me.
9) This sunday is your last concert with Wingates Band - what are you most looking forward to?
To make beautiful music with the band and to have fun in my last concert with the band for the foreseeable future.
10) Someone will need to take on the Solo Euphonium seat - what would you say to someone who’s thinking of auditioning?
Do it. The band is in the midst of an evolution and being able to be a part of something that is actively growing and changing for the better is special.
Applications for Solo Euphonium are being accepted now - so if you’re looking for a new opportunity and are interested in auditioning for Wingates Band apply in confidence by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org.
It has been a pleasure and a joy to share both rehearsals and the stage with Josh over the last year he has been playing in the band. He has been a star-spangled ray of sunshine in the bandroom and I’m going to miss the enthusiasm and dedication he brought to the bandroom during each and every rehearsal. All that’s left to say is good luck and hopefully it won’t be too long until we share a stage together again…
Well it won’t be that long - we’re both playing in a concert on Sunday in Tyldesley, tickets are on the door and all the details can be found here! This is your last chance to catch Josh performing in the UK - so we hope to see you there!