HAVING started her musical training with weekly music tuition at Carlogie Primary School, young Carnoustie horn player Ailsa Russell is now one of the top brass students at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, a member of a British and European championship winning brass band – and Angus Youth Ambassador of the Year 2011.
“This was a very strong category in the 2011 Angus Ambassador Awards but, throughout the judging process, Ailsa’s talent, dedication and commitment shone out,” said Provost Ruth Leslie Melville, who chaired the Angus Ambassador Awards’ judging panel.
“However, this award not only highlights Ailsa’s tremendous musical abilities but also highlights the excellence of the music tuition provided in Angus schools.”
Ailsa explained to the Provost that she first took tenor horn lessons with Michael Robertson, one of Angus Council’s peripatetic music teachers, when she was nine years old.
“Right from the start, I really enjoyed playing the tenor horn, especially as Mr Robertson was so encouraging,” continued Ailsa, who joined Arbroath Instrumental Junior Band when she was 10 years old, only to be moved to the Senior Band a year later.
“With my weekly tenor horn lesson, lots of practicing at home and playing with Arbroath Instrumental Senior Band and Carnoustie and District Youth Brass Band, at the age of 12, I was accepted as a member of the National Youth Brass Band of Scotland, which was inspiring.”
In addition, Ailsa was also a founding member of Brass Bandits, a local brass quintet, and regularly won awards at music festivals across Scotland. “I had so many wonderful musical experiences, I decided to study at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, where I’m now in my third year,” said Ailsa, who is the current holder of the college’s Harry Mortimer Memorial Trust Brass Student of the Year Award.
“As well as being the solo horn player in the college band, for the last two years, I’ve been first horn in the Cory Band, the current British Brass Band Champions. The Cory Band won the 2010 European Brass Band Championship, which is my proudest achievement to date,” said Ailsa, who performs across Europe with the Cory Band.
Ailsa revealed to the Provost that, when she graduates from the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, she plans to become a primary school teacher. “I’m so grateful to Mr Robertson for all the help he gave to me and to all his students,” said Ailsa. “By using my love of music and everything I’ve learned since I first picked up a tenor horn, I only hope I can follow in Mr Robertson’s footsteps by introducing children to music at a young age and, hopefully, inspiring a few of them to learn to play a brass instrument.”
At the end of their meeting, Provost Ruth Leslie Melville congratulated Ailsa on being Angus Youth Ambassador 2011. “It’s wonderful to speak to a girl such as Ailsa whose roots are so strongly embedded in the county and who talks with such affection and pride of her schooling and musical training in Angus,” said the Provost.
“Ailsa is a wonderful example of the fabulous young people who represent the county of Angus locally, nationally and internationally.”