Young Star- Zoe Wright
This month’s young star is a principal horn for not just one, but THREE high level bands. She’s studied music performance abroad and is now completing a music performance degree at the Royal Northern College of Music. I’m really excited to present the experiences, opinions and success of this amazing young talent and I’m sure she will impress and inspire so many young players.
Without further ado, here are the words of this month’s Young Star- Zoe Wright.
Name: Zoe Wright
Band(s) and Position(s):
Hammonds Band- Solo Horn
National Youth Brass Band- Principal Horn
European Youth Brass Band (2018)- Solo Horn
What first attracted you to brass bands?
I kind of just followed suit to my older brothers, really. When I was younger, they both played in the Rochdale Youth Band, so I was sat watching rehearsals every week and just picked it up! I started playing when I was four years old, so I don’t actually remember not being a part of a brass band and just fell in love with playing!
Which musical achievement are you most proud of?
That’s a tough one! I recently won the Grand Shield with Hammonds, so that’s pretty special! Also, I would probably have to say being nominated as Principal Horn of the National Youth Brass Band of Great Britain. It’s such a prestigious seat to sit in and I’m very grateful I’ve got the chance to fill it.
Which has been your favourite musical experience so far?
When I was ten, I played with Rochdale Junior Band as part of Music for Youth at Birmingham Symphony Hall. I started our whole performance by standing on my own in the middle of the stage, playing the start of Highland Cathedral as a solo, from memory- not many other people can say that!
What opportunities has playing in brass bands given you?
I don’t know where to start! Being a part of brass bands took me to Norway for a year, just after finishing my GCSE’s, literally to study on a brass band course. Just from the friends I’ve made from that, I competed at the Swedish Brass Band Nationals last November (which we won!) From depping with other bands, I’ve been fortunate to have been broadcast on BBC Radio 2, as well as The One Show. Honestly the list goes on and on…
Which musicians would you say inspire you?
Sheona White, Owen Farr and Sandy Smith are probably my top three. They all have completely different styles of Tenor Horn playing, but all are absolutely phenomenal. They give me a lot of inspiration to my own playing in all aspects, whether that’s musicality, technique or sound. I could never stop learning from any of them.
What are your future goals with your playing career?
Obviously, I’d love to be a professional Tenor Horn player and make a living out of just that, but let’s be real- that’s never going to happen! [you never know Zoe!]. Once I’ve finished my degree, I really want to go into Music Therapy, I just think it’s such a great way to use my hobby in a way that helps others.
Aside from banding, are there any other projects that you are involved or would like to be involved in?
If I ever get the chance, I’d love to do a bit of conducting. I’ve done little bits of it here and there and it’s something I’d love to explore more. Since being at the RNCM we’ve managed to put together a Tenor Horn Quartet called The Fake Horns (because most French Horn players consider the Tenor Horn to be a fake instrument) and I’m really enjoying being apart of that! We’re really pushing the boundaries and exploring what we can do as a quartet made up of the same instrument and it’s great fun! I can’t wait to see where it progresses to in the future.
If you had to play one piece for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Doyen by Goff Richards. Bit of an odd one, but it’s such a tune!
How do you feel about banding today? Is there anything you would change?
I think banding has progressed drastically in the last 20-30 years, but I think the thing I’d change about British banding (after having the opportunity to play across Europe), is the stigma about supporting other competing/rival bands. You go across to Norway, even at the Europeans, the Concert Hall is full of other banders supporting them- massively cheering at the end of performances, standing ovations etc. We don’t have that as much in the UK and it’s a shame. It’s like a lack of enthusiasm from the audience. I’d love for people to show more appreciation for the movement we all love being a part of. We spend so many hours dedicated to banding and I’d love to feel more rewarded for what we do.
Why do you think young people should get involved in brass bands and playing music?
I would not be the person I am today if I wasn’t in brass bands. It has brought so much out of me as a person. I’m much more of a confident, independent person from everything I am fortunate to have experienced. You also get to interact, get to know and become friends with so many different people across the country, over in Europe and further afield. I’d seriously be missing out if I didn’t have the friends I do now.
Would you like to be featured as a Young Star?
If you’re aged 24 or under, play in brass bands and would like to be featured, feel free to get in touch!
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