Onyx Brass

Onyx Brass

Chamber Music Ensemble


Over its quarter-century of activity, Onyx Brass has evolved into one of the top brass ensembles not only in Britain, but worldwide. Inspired by the Philip Jones Brass Ensemble, Onyx Brass came together in 1993 with the intention of making chamber music that was both serious and approachable. The individual members have been part of such groups as the Royal Ballet Sinfonia, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, and the English Chamber Orchestra. Onyx Brass has appeared in all Britain's major concert halls and as far afield as the island of Borneo. In addition to chamber brass concerts, Onyx Brass has often performed with choirs, including the Choir of Selwyn College, Cambridge, the Brighton Festival Chorus, the BBC Singers, and the St. Bride's Church Choir. They have commissioned new works by an impressive range of British composers who include Thea Musgrave, Michael Nyman, John Tavener, Judith Bingham, John McCabe, Tarik O’Regan, Cheryl Frances Hoad, Timothy Jackson, Gabriel Jackson, Graham Lynch, Steve Martland, Jonathan Dove, Julian Philips, Rory Boyle, Kenny Wheeler, Gwilym Simcock, and Trish Clowes.

In addition to recordings on the small Meridian and Regent labels, Onyx Brass has recorded several sonically intricate albums for Chandos. The 2018 release Fanfares consisted of 58 examples of that venerable form by 20th century British composers. Onyx Brass maintains a busy schedule of educational appearances, leading master classes and workshops with the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain, the Royal Welsh College of Music, the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, and, outside Britain, the Julliard School in New York and the Boston Conservatory. Onyx Brass' educational and concert activities came together in the Bob Chilcott choral work A Sporting Chance, which included parts for brass quintet, school choir, actors, and dancers. Onyx Brass has held ensemble-in-residence positions at Imperial College, University of London, and the Westminster Abbey Choir School.