As part of its sustainability strategy, the Antigua and Barbuda Youth Symphony Orchestra (ABYSO) recently concluded its third capacity-building workshop in the repair of brass and woodwind instruments.
The tropical conditions can be challenging for orchestral instruments and having ready access to trained repairers is critical to extending the life of these instruments. The ABYSO were delighted to have hosted master repairers from the United Kingdom, David Woodhead and Mark Mee Bishop, on Island for a two week long workshop where they serviced the Orchestra’s instruments but also mentored local trainees in aspects of instrument maintenance and repairs.
David started as a repairer at Phil Parker Ltd., London’s brass instrument specialist, in 1979. There he repaired the instruments of the professional orchestral and session players, soloists, students of the London colleges as well as those in Manchester, Birmingham, Cardiff, Leeds and Glasgow. He has repaired instruments for everyone from school players to touring stars. David is a regular donor of brass instruments to the ABYSO.
Mark started repairing woodwind instruments in 2000, combining his interest in flute and saxophone with engineering. He studied clarinet making at Newark College. In 2008 he was asked to set up and manage the workshop at sax.co.uk‘s London store in Denmark Street where he has worked on many top players’ instruments from around the world as well as passing on his skills to several repairers who have gone on to set up workshops of their own.
In addition to the ABYSO members who formally attended this training, the ABYSO also invited the Bands of the Royal Police Force, the Defence Force, the Boys’ Brigade and the Salvation Army to each nominate an apprentice from their ranks to undertake this training. Keeping wind bands alive and thriving in Antigua and Barbuda is important for the ABYSO but also for our traditional artforms like calypso and our marching bands which rely heavily on wind players. Survival is as much a function of developing players as it is a function of having the proper skill to maintain these instruments.
The workshops were a daily activity that afforded trainees the valuable opportunity to work alongside two of the most experienced repairers in the business. The Board of Directors of the ABYSO extends thanks to the Hodges Bay Resort and Spa for its sponsorship of the 2022 workshop as well as our Patrons, Their Excellencies Sir Rodney Williams and Lady Williams for their consistent support. The ABYSO welcomes this opportunity to again share an important capacity building resource to support wind bands across the Island.