Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Manx Notes

Newest Member of
Douglas Town Band

Meet Rory, 8, the newest and youngest member of the Douglas Town Band, the longest established brass band on the Isle of Man. Rory has played the cornet for a year, but last week marked his public debut with the band. Watching Rory was such fun. He was so excited to be there, as were his many well-wishers who cheered him on and took pictures. Rory had a little problem keeping his place in the music, and the two women sitting by him kept helping him find it. So dear! (I just wanted to pinch those cheeks!)

And what an array of music they played! Tunes of the Sea was the theme for the evening and we heard such delights as the theme from “Pirates of the Caribbean,” Rod Stewart's “Sailor” (a song originally written by an IOM band), and a tune from a Mutiny on the Bounty suite. (Capt. Bligh married and lived on Man for awhile, and Mr. Christian, who led the mutiny against him, was from a well-known family on the island.) We also heard a fabulous trombone soloist (and I know a little about trombone soloists!) named Juan Wright.

You have to admire the brass band culture found in the British Isles which embraces cutting out the unnecessary elements of a band—like the strings and woodwinds—and leaving just the good parts! (Just kidding!) This culture is intensified on the IOM which boasts seven local brass bands. 

We saw the Onchan Town Band several nights later. They are a younger group than the Douglas band, both in average age of the players and in years established, but they gave a spirited and strong performance. Many of the Onchan Town Band soloists were absent, so the band made a bold move in the second half by playing what they called Oom-Pah Songs and encouraging the audience to sing along. We sang and sang, and a few older ladies got up and danced, even pretending to lift their skirts (they wore pants) to the “Can Can.” The highlight of the evening for me was getting to sing the IOM national anthem as well as its unofficial national anthem, “Ellan Vannin”.



  1. Hi Karen, lovely to meet you and Hunt in the Summer. Thank you for your very kind words.

    Juan Wright

  2. Juan, it is so nice to hear from you. Last night Hunt met a young man, also a fine professional trombonist, and he thought of you. We wistfully look back to our time on the IOM, and singing “Ellan Vannin” was one of our best experiences. Thank you for this and for a wonderful evening of music.