Brendan Breslin, Artistic Director
Brendan is a native of Sion Mills, Co Tyrone in Northern Ireland, a full time musician as a percussionist, and less frequently on tuba, keyboards and bass. As a conductor he is in much demand with brass and wind ensembles, orchestras and choirs across Ireland. As a composer and arranger, Brendan’s music has featured with orchestras, brass and concert bands across Ireland, the U.K., Europe, and the United States of America. Amongst the leading ensembles and groups that have performed and recorded Brendan’s work are the RTÉ Concert Orchestra, the Cory Brass Band, the Roberts Bakery Band, the Irish Defence Forces Bands, the Band of An Garda Síochána, the RTÉ ConTempo String Quartet, The Chatham Saxophone Quartet, as well as noted artists such as Cara O’Sullivan, Brian Kennedy and Peter Corry.
In recent years Brendan has had the role of Musical Director with Arklow Silver Band, the Dublin Symphony Orchestra and the Lucan Concert Band, Assistant Musical Director with Dublin Concert Band, as well as a member of staff at the Artane Band and School of Music, specialising in lower brass. Brendan is currently the Musical Director with the Ardee Concert Band and the Downtown Big Band.. Having completed a two year Master of Music course with the Royal Irish Academy of Music in Dublin, Ireland, Brendan attained a Pass with Distinction specialising in Conducting & Composition. He has also been integrally involved in the setting up and oversight of the RIAM Wind Festivals, regional development music workshops and masterclasses for community and school musicians of various levels, and continues to expand these events on behalf of the RIAM.
In June 2016 Brendan won the prestigious National Association of Brass Band Conductors competition in the UK, which has afforded him the opportunity of working with some of the main Championship brass bands including the Fodens Band, Whitburn Brass Band, the Reg Vardy Brass Band and Carlton Main Frickley Brass Band.
David Collins, Cornet/Trumpet
David began his musical training on trumpet in his hometown of Celbridge with Michael Gaskin and went on to complete a BMus (Hons) at the RSAMD in Glasgow, PGDip in Trumpet Performance at Sibelius Academy, Helsinki and an MMus in Trumpet Performance at the RIAM in Dublin graduating with Distinction.
During his studies David won a number of solo prizes including the Guinness Brass Bursary and Robert McCreath Memorial prize and participated in masterclasses in Switzerland, Italy and the U.K with international trumpeters including Reinhold Friedrich, Alison Balsom and Kristian Steenstrup.
As an orchestral trumpeter David has recently been appointed Second Trumpet and Principal Cornet with the Ulster Orchestra and also performs and broadcasts regularly with RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra and RTÉ Concert Orchestra, Wexford Festival Orchestra and was also a member of the prestigious European Union Youth Orchestra from 2009 to 2011 including tours across Europe and Asia under conductors Claus Peter Flor, Mathias Bamert and Vladimir Ashkenazy. Alongside his orchestral work David is the Artistic Director of Dublin Brass Week, Ireland’s annual international festival of brass and over the past two years has appeared as soloist in concerti by Haydn, Vivaldi, Neruda and also Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No.2 in with the Vanbrugh Camerata.
Paul Young, Cornet/Trumpet
Paul Young is the current Principal Trumpet with the Ulster Orchestra. Based now in Belfast, having studied in the Royal College of Music in London, Paul is currently on the coaching staff for the National Youth Brass Band of Great Britain and is also a member of the instrumental teaching faculty of Queens University Belfast.
Gavin Barr, Tenor/French Horn
Gavin Barr was born in Strabane, Co. Tyrone and began his playing career with St Joseph’s brass band at the age of eight. At eighteen, he successfully auditioned for the prestigious Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester where he studied under the tutelage of Lesley Howie.
Gavin also took part in many college competitions and in 2010 he became one of only two tenor horn players in the college history to reach the final of the prestigious concerto competition. Gavin played principle horn with the RNCM brass band for three consecutive years whilst at college. In 2010 Gavin returned to the RNCM to complete a Masters of Music in Solo Performance after being awarded a scholarship from the college. During this time he also performed with the very successful British Open brass quartet champions Scherzo Brass who become the first group at the RNCM to complete a Masters of Music in Chamber Ensemble.
In his first year at college Gavin joined Pennine Brass where he enjoyed two successful years with the band, starting on 2nd horn and moving up the ranks. In March 2008 Gavin accepted an invitation to audition for the world famous Brighouse and Rastrick band where he held the seat of 1st horn for over three years.
Outside of college Gavin has achieved many successes. In December 2006 and 2007 he entered himself for the ABRSM diploma exams, passing both exams successfully and he hopes to undertake his Fellowship of the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music in the coming two years. Since returning to Ireland Gavin has enjoyed his time working as a freelance musician, adjudicator and teacher. Gavin currently teaches brass lessons privately and for Carlow College of Music, Music Generation Laois and City of Waterford Band.
Michael Marshall, Trombone/Baritone
Michael began playing the trombone with the Mayfield Brass Band in Cork when he was 9. Three yeas later he joined the Cork School of Music and was a student there until he graduated with a BMus in 2001. In 2003 he graduated from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London with an MMus and after this received the Archers Jazz Scholarship at Trinity College London, specialising in music of the big band era. Michael was a freelance trombonist in London and Ireland for ten years and has played in many different ensembles, styles and genres such as both the RTÉ Symphony and Concert Orchestra, Irish Chamber Orchestra, Wexford Festival Opera, Ulster Orchestra, Crash Ensemble, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Bournemouth Symphony, Liverpool Philharmonic, Cyprus Symphony Orchestra, West End musicals and touring musical productions, some of which include Fame, Chicago, Annie, Legally Blonde, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, White Christmas, Fiddler on The Roof and many more. He has played with the Glenn Miller UK Big Band, Jay Craig Big Band, Bobby Lamb Big Band and is a member of The Bones of Cork. Michael was appointed Associate Principal Trombone of the RTÉ Concert Orchestra in November 2011 and is currently a Courtois/Besson trombone artist. As well as an orchestral musician Michael is an active lower brass teacher and conductor and is currently musical director/conductor and teacher with the St. Louis School Symphony Orchestra in Rathmines and lower brass teacher and junior band conductor with the Finglas Concert and Marching Band. Michael has been a guest conductor/teacher/examiner at the Cork School of Music CIT and guest conductor of the Mayfield Brass Band, Ballincollig Concert Band, Ardee Concert Band and at Dublin Brass Week. Michael is also an active soloist performing many recitals around Ireland, most notably as guest soloist with the Irish Youth Wind Ensemble in 2013 where he also did a workshop for all the brass instruments.
Conor O’Riordan, Tuba/Euphonium
Conor O’Riordan started his musical life as a euphonium player in the Rathfarnham Concert Band and continued his studies at DIT Conservatory of Music with Sean Fleming and Harmut Pritzel. He subsequently made the change to the tuba and on completion of his music Performance Degree was awarded the Michael McNamara Gold Medal for outstanding performance in a final recital. He then went on to postgraduate studies at the London Guildhall School of Music and Drama where he studied with Patrick Harrild and Jim Anderson. Conor has also studied with world renowned tubist, Roger Bobo in Florence. A former member of the National Youth Orchestras and Wind Ensemble, he has also played regularly with both the NSOI, RTÉ Concert Orchestra, Ulster Orchestra and various freelance orchestras. As a soloist he has played concerti with the DIT College of Music Wind Ensemble, the Guildhall School of Music Wind Ensemble, Hibernian Orchestra, as a finalist in the Young Musician of the Future with the National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland and most recently with the Irish Youth Wind Ensemble.
On his return from London, Conor worked as a freelance tuba player and teacher until his appointment to the position of Orchestra Manager with the RTÉ Concert Orchestra in 2004. In August 2007, he returned to playing as a profession when he joined the Tuba section of the Band of An Garda Siochána. Conor has recently been appointed to the faculty of DIT Conservatory of Music and Drama.
Stephen Crooks, Percussion
Stephen studied at the Royal Irish Academy of Music and graduated with a Bachelors of Arts, First class honours in Music Performance. He has worked with the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra, RTÉ Concert Orchestra, The Ulster Orchestra & on two occasions been a part of the European Youth Brass Band. As a Conductor, Stephen has been successful in several competitions over the years but recently won the Northern Ireland brass band championships with the Laganvale (Metal Technology) band from Belfast and they are now invited to represent Northern Ireland in the European Brass Band Championships 2018 in the Netherlands. He has enjoyed performing with different ensembles on the tuba and percussion, and has visited several countries performing in some of the major concert halls throughout Europe and beyond including Austria, Germany, France and Abu Dhabi.