A4 Brass Quartet comprises principal players from some of the UK’s top brass bands, including Brighouse and Rastrick and Foden’s. These four astonishing musicians come together to perform both lyrical and high-octane works, forming a distinctive and new take on chamber music.
The Quartet has a unique blend of instruments, with a cornet, tenor horn, baritone and euphonium creating an exclusive sound that stands out from the standard brass quartet. With this unusual instrumentation, A4 Brass has actively developed their repertoire, commissioning new music, composing and arranging music themselves.
Formed in 2013 at the Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM), in their first year the Quartet won the coveted Philip Jones Brass Ensemble of the Year prize. They went on to represent the brass department in the College’s overall chamber music prize, winning the Christopher Rowland Ensemble of the Year Award and claiming both the jury’s and the audience’s votes. In June 2018 the Quartet completed the prestigious International Artist Diploma in Chamber Music course at the RNCM as John Fewkes scholars, and upon graduating they accepted the invitation from Principal Linda Merrick to become Honorary Associate Artists of the RNCM.
The Quartet has performed widely throughout the UK appearing at major venues and festivals including Wigmore Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall, Bridgewater Hall, Cadogan Hall, Purcell Room, St. Margaret’s Church Westminster Abbey (for Park Lane Group), Lake District Summer Music, Northern Aldborough and King’s Lynn Festivals. More recently they have completed engagements which included a residency at the Lieksa Brass Week in Finland, a concert in the Ceresio Estate Festival in Switzerland and a re-invitation to the Trakai Fanfare Week in Lithuania.
The Quartet has featured on national television and radio, appearing three times on both ITV’s Christmas Carol Concerts and BBC Radio 3’s ‘In-Tune’ with Sean Rafferty and Katie Derham. In 2016 they released their debut CD at the RNCM Brass Band Festival featuring new, original music composed for them, including works by Martin Ellerby, Edward Gregson, Oliver Waespi and Nigel Clarke.
A4 Brass have won numerous prizes and awards including the 2018 Royal Over-Seas League Chamber Music Competition, a Tunnell Trust Award, the Tillett Trust Young Artists’ Platform series and the Musicians’ Company Concert Series. In September 2018 they were selected to become City Music Foundation Artists and the following month were the first brass ensemble to ever win the Royal Philharmonic Society Henderson Chamber Ensemble Award. They regularly work with Live Music Now and Music in Hospitals & Care and are committed to expanding and diversifying their work.
Jamie Smith, Cornet
Born in Yorkshire, Jamie Smith began to play the Cornet at the age of 8 with the Sellers Youth Band. During his time with the band, Jamie won all the major youth competitions including the National Youth Championships of Great Britain.
After starting his career at his local band, the Grange Moor Band, Jamie joined the Yorkshire Building Society Band on Second Cornet in late 2008, and saw its transition into the Hammonds Saltaire Band in early 2009. After moving up the cornet ranks, he was appointed Principal Cornet of Hammonds Saltaire Band at 15 years of age – the youngest principal cornet in the band’s history. He enjoyed an 8-year tenure with the band during which time they regained both their Championship and British Open competitive status.
During this period Jamie also took a great interest in teaching. He started teaching privately at the age of 17 and also enjoyed the position of conductor with the Hammonds Youth Band.
Jamie was the first player to be principal cornet of both the National Children’s Brass Band of Great Britain and the National Youth Brass Band of Great Britain. During this period, he was a winner of the Katie Ogden Solo Competition and was also delighted to receive the Philip McCann Cornet Award.
Jamie has performed worldwide as a soloist and as a ensemble member in places as diverse as Ireland, Switzerland, Belgium, Lithuania, Germany and Australia, whilst also travelling twice to Japan for solo performances in 2015 and 2016.
Jonathan Bates, Tenor Horn
Jonny began his playing career at the age of 9 with the Thurlstone Brass Band near Sheffield, before moving to his first competing band, Elland Silver at the age of 12. It was at this time he auditioned to join the National Youth Brass Band of Great Britain, becoming the youngest member in the band’s history before embarking on 14 courses between 2007 and 2013. He spent 8 of these courses as the band’s principal tenor horn and won both the Katie Ogden Solo Award and Harry Mortimer Solo Award, coupled with the coveted Harold & Bernard Tovey Memorial Award when the band premiered his first major compositional work – Within the Paths of Righteousness – in 2011.
In 2009, he joined his first championship level band, joining Carlton Main Frickley Colliery on 1st horn, before moving to the same position with the Brighouse and Rastrick Band. During his time with B&R, the band won both the Yorkshire Regionals and National Championships of Great Britain. In late 2010, Jonathan made the move to Black Dyke Band, where he remained a member for 6 years, becoming the band’s principal tenor horn at the age of 18 and winning further Yorkshire Regional and National titles, plus 3 English Nationals, 2 European Championships and a British Open title during his time with the band. He also appeared on a vast number of CD recordings including the world premiere recording of a Tenor Horn concerto by Belgian composer Stan Nieuwenhuis entitled This Wicked Struggle.
In 2016, he moved to the principal horn seat at Grimethorpe Colliery Band before relocating to the North West with the Foden’s Band in 2017, winning 2 North West Regional titles and a further National Championship with the band in 2018.
As a soloist, he reached the final of the BBC Radio 2 Young Brass Award in both 2010 and 2011, before becoming only the 2nd ever tenor horn player to reach the televised category final of the BBC Young Musician of the Year in 2012. He has also appeared as a soloist with brass bands in the UK, USA, Germany, Norway and Switzerland. In 2016 he became a Performance Development Artist with Geneva Instruments, where he continued his tradition from Black Dyke Band of running an annual workshop for Tenor Horn players, attracting over 200 players across the 3 years. He has also been active in commissioning and premiering several new works for the instrument from talented young composers such as Daniel Hall, Stan Niewenhuis, Julien Roh and Dave Collins with a mixture of accompaniments ranging from brass band to electronics and tape.
Michael Cavanagh, Baritone Horn
Born in 1994, Michael is from Stockport and began playing the Baritone at the age of 8. He is currently Principal Baritone of the Brighouse and Rastrick Brass Band, following a five-and-a-half-year spell with the world famous Grimethorpe Colliery Band. Growing up he was Principal Baritone of the National Youth Brass Band of Great Britain for five years under the direction of Bramwell Tovey. Whilst at the NYBBGB, Michael performed as part of the BBC Proms at the Royal Albert Hall live on BBC Radio 3, and has also been a recipient of the coveted Maude Wright award, the Harold and Bernard Tovey award for excellence, the Harry Mortimer Concerto Soloist award and the Katie Ogden soloist prize.
Michael’s performance career has taken him to many of the UK’s leading concert venues including the Royal Albert Hall, Symphony Hall, The Sage, Snape Maltings and Perth Concert Hall, in addition to performing overseas in Australia and France.
In June 2016 Michael graduated with First Class Honours from the Royal Northern College of Music under the tutorship of Professor Steven Mead and Dr David Thornton, and in June 2018 he completed the prestigious RNCM International Artist Diploma in Chamber Music as a John Fewkes Scholar with A4 Brass.
Chris Robertson, Euphonium
Chris is originally from Carnoustie, Scotland and began playing euphonium at the age of 10. He is currently the Principal Euphonium of the Brighouse and Rastrick Band, having previously played with Grimethorpe Colliery, Wingates, Kirkintilloch and the multi-award winning Carnoustie and District Youth Band.
Chris moved to Manchester to study at the Royal Northern College of Music in 2013 with tutors Professor Steven Mead and Dr David Thornton. He graduated with first class honours and was nominated for the Harry Mortimer Award in his final year. The following year, he graduated from the RNCM’s prestigious International Artist Diploma Course as a member of A4 Brass Quartet.
In addition to his performance achievements, Chris is also a very accomplished musical arranger. Much of A4’s concert repertoire features arrangements compiled by Chris, as well our Live Music Now and Music in Hospitals repertoire, in which he also sings and plays ukulele.
A4 Brass Quartet has a Website