A GROUP of musicians who had their first rehearsal less than four weeks before a national competition have finished as runners-up.

East Lothian Schools Brass Ensemble were among the entrants in the Brass Ensemble of the Year.

The online music competition is open to ensembles of up to 10 players, aged 18 and under, who play together regularly in school or in their local youth brass band. Each local authority, independent schools and bands can submit only one entry.

East Lothian’s Senior Brass Ensemble, who finished behind Stranraer Brass Ensemble in the competition, brought together nine of the top brass players from the county’s six secondary schools.

The newly formed group had their first rehearsal on March 16 and recorded their entry as part of East Lothian Council Young Musician of the Year on April 2 at St Mary’s Parish Church in Haddington.

Jonathan Gawn, East Lothian Council’s instrumental music service team manager, said: “This was our first authority level ensemble project since the pandemic.

“It was a privilege to attend these rehearsals, under the expert direction of IMS (instrumental music service) instructor David Robb, and to watch the group’s confidence grow over the four weeks.

“We had a full attendance at all four rehearsals and our young musicians really embraced this challenging programme to achieve this tremendous performance and result.”

Ensembles play a programme of two contrasting pieces lasting no longer than 10 minutes in total, which is submitted as an unedited video, with all participants playing in one venue at the same time.

The group played two pieces: Renaissance Dances, by 16th-century composer Tielman Susato, and Danny Boy.

In response to Renaissance Dances, the adjudicators – Arlene MacFarlane, director of Scottish Schools Orchestra Trust; John Wallace, convenor of Music Education Partnership Group; and John Miller, ex-head of wind and percussion at Royal Northern College of Music – praised the rich and warm sound with dynamic interest and note lengths consistent across the ensemble.

The adjudicators also praised the trombonist (Sula McDonald, in S6 at Preston Lodge High School), who performed the solo line in Danny Boy, saying that “she did so beautifully”.

The group’s tuba player, Jamie McDonald, also an S6 pupil at the Prestonpans secondary school, recently represented East Lothian as a tubaist in the National Youth Concert Band.

Mr Gawn added: “It’s great to see our authority being represented at this national level and hopefully Jamie will inspire others to audition and be involved in future years.

“We are already looking forward to next year’s brass ensemble competition.”