Wing Commander to lead

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AHEAD of the Wind and Brass Weekend at St John’s School next week, special guest and band leader Wing Commander Duncan Stubbs spoke to What Where When about what to expect.

Hosted by the Isle of Man Wind Orchestra, the musical weekend will include workshops and performances, free to attend for anyone in full-time education.

Wing Commander Stubbs is a veteran of the Gulf War, and became one of the RAF’s youngest ever musical directors when he was commissioned back in 1990.

He said he was delighted to have been invited to the island, having been impressed with our Wind Orchestra at a festival in Manchester some years ago, even borrowing a Manx flag to wave in support.

He has also guested with various RAF bands over the years to take part in Tynwald celebrations in the island that is a fondly-remembered childhood holiday destination.

‘My family always stayed in Port St Mary,’ he recalled. ‘I used to love exploring the rocks at the Point and the walks over the cliffs around to the Sound overlooking the Calf of Man were always an adventure!’

He added that the music he will be bringing over with him will be a wide variety of all styles, including some big band arrangements.

‘Making music is about having fun,’ he explained.

‘Whatever the standard of musicianship, entertainment and enjoyment should always be the main aim, whether you are in the band or in the audience.

‘I firmly believe that music is the best hobby anyone can have.  You can do it at any age, anywhere in the world. Socially, musicians are always friendly and keen to make new friends.’

His own career has seen him do just that, a highlight being occasional visits to Hong Kong with RAF bands.

‘We always had a great deal of fun and it was particularly interesting for me to see such a different culture, fortunately just before commercialism started taking over in a big way,’ he said.

‘The shanty towns and the floating village in Aberdeen Harbour, on Hong Kong Island, made a big impression.’

He continued: ‘Much more recently I went with the band to Quebec in support of a tattoo there. On the final few days we caught the top end of a hurricane, which caused a full city power cut. We still managed to eat well, however, and had a memorable final meal in a local restaurant – albeit in the dark and predominantly salad.

‘The challenges are always rewarding and it is thanks to music, that I have travelled to so many different countries. Educationalists often talk of ‘life skills’. I’m not completely sure what these are but understand they are wholly positive. Music offers a golden opportunity to learn them in an atmosphere of co-operation that I believe is unique. Do it!’

The Wind and Brass weekend, an annual event, runs between February 8 to 10, and those not in full-time education are also welcome to join in for a registration fee of £20.

The workshops will include the now-traditional social evening, on Saturday, February 9, and a workshop concert at St John’s School at 2pm on the Sunday.

The community orchestra rehearses at Marown Primary School at 7.45pm on Thursdays during term-time.

For further information or to take part in any of the events, contact orchestra chairman Michael Morrison on 437751, email or send a message via the website at

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