Strabane Brass Band hit the high note with £10,000 funding boost

STRABANE Brass Band is among the musical groups and musicians across Northern Ireland celebrating with news they are set to receive funding to help upgrade worn out instruments and purchase new ones.

Sixty-nine awards have been made and among those set to benefit are schools groups, community choirs, marching and brass bands, and individual professional musicians.

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is providing the funding worth £494,000 under its Musical Instruments Scheme.

Thanks to capital investment from the Department for Communities, the scheme, set up to increase the quality of music making in Northern Ireland, offers grants to a range of professional and non-professional musicians and groups.

There are three strands to the funding. Under Programme One: Musical Instruments for Bands, twenty-four bands are set to benefit, including:

Locally, Strabane Brass Band received £10,000 towards the purchase five new silver-plated cornets which will contribute to their strong youth development programme, tuition and expansion of repertoire.

The band currently has around 70 players, with opportunities for young musicians aged 7 and just starting out, right through to experienced senior players.

It prides itself on promoting quality music making, with veteran players tutoring younger musicians, helping them to grow their skills and confidence.

Speaking of the funding windfall, Tommy Barr from the band commented: “The recent Arts Council award that we have received under the Musical Instruments Programme is very welcome and will be essential in helping us to achieve our goal in being the best band that we can be.

"We will use the award to finance the purchase of top quality cornets that will be played by some of our existing band members but also by our youth members and beginners.

"As we strive to produce consistently high quality music it is imperative that we use high quality instruments to do so."

He added: "We wish to thank the Arts Council for their continuing support."

Under Programme Two: Professional and Non-Professional Performing Groups, thirty-three awards have been offered, with Knockavoe School receiving £3,386.

While under Programme Three, twelve individual professional performing musicians will receive support.

Ciaran Scullion, head of Music at the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, commented: "Northern Ireland has a fine history of musicianship, one which is celebrated all over the world.

"The funding announcement will go a long way in supporting that legacy, benefitting so many performers across a broad range of genres including classical, jazz, traditional, contemporary and electronic."

Communities Minister, Deirdre Hargey added: “The Arts Council’s Musical Instruments Scheme supports players at all stages of their musical journey, from those just starting out, through to highly skilled professional musicians and non-professional groups and bands, ensuring their skills can continue to grow and that our musicians have everything they need to reach their full potential as players and performers.

“This programme makes a significant contribution to the quality of music and musicianship here.

"It supports our professionals and our talented youth and recognises the vital role that amateur bands and players have in our rich musical heritage.

"The importance of music and the wider arts sector is appreciated now perhaps more than ever and I am delighted to continue to support this very practical measure.”

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