BBC Performing Arts Fund Award a £10,000 Grant to Wonderbrass

Wonderbrass have been awarded a grant of £10,000 from the BBC’s Performing Arts Fund.The BBC Performing Arts Fund (PAF) has awarded over £250,000 to community groups across the UK through its Community Music scheme.

Wonderbrass at Wrexham Carnival

Grants of up to £10,000 have been awarded to 47 not-for-profit groups in order to develop the talent within the group, encourage new members, produce workshops and projects that bring them closer with their communities and raise their profile. The scheme has encouraged groups to take on more challenging projects through commissions and working collaboratively with other local organisations as well as professional artists.

For Wonderbrass the money will be spent in developing the band’s repertoire, giving its members from across the community a chance to participate in varied methods of composition, playing and performance.

Working with three radically different musicians, Wonderbrass members will learn different musical styles and techniques and will incorporate the new pieces into their existing and already highly eclectic repertoire.

BBC Performing Arts FundMiriam O’Keeffe, Director of the Performing Arts Fund, said: “We are delighted to be providing an avenue for these projects to flourish. The passion these groups have for music is inspiring.  The range, not only in the types of groups but also in the spread of ages, shows us that music really is for everybody.”

The composers working with the band will be RWCMD’s jazz aficionado Paula Gardiner, trumpet legend Claude Deppa and composer and Wonderbrass’ own Musical Director Rob Smith

“This is such a fantastic opportunity for people from different musical and social backgrounds to learn, to develop and to diversify their own musicality, as well as a chance to spread this music out into the wider community through our performances and recordings” says Rob Smith, Wonderbrass Musical Director and commissioned composer for the scheme.

Work started on the project early in the year, so watch this space for updates on what’s going on.

RWCMD takes on Wonderbrass

Rob Smith

Video features Wonderbrass at Wrexham Carnival – Musical Director, Rob Smith

Rob Smith is a composer and improviser who has performed with, amongst others, Derek Bailey, Evan Parker, John Stevens and Keith Tippett. His portfolio includes numerous compositions for radio, television and film including the score for “Minim” directed by Chris Forster in 1999 – this film won both the D M. Davies Award at the International Film Festival of Wales and 3rd jury prize at the International Short Film Festival at Uppsala, Sweden. He is an experienced  community musician and a long-standing tutor on the Community Music Wales Tutor Training Programme. His research interests include improvisation and community music and he is actively involved with Ben Challis on projects that address the design of new technologies for performance through improvisation. He is Senior Lecturer and Joint Award Leader in Popular Music. 1992 – present Musical Director of Wonderbrass Big Band. Wonderbrass have been commissioned to perform a brand new composition by Jason Yarde in the 2012 Cultural Olympiad, the only group from Wales to achieve this and one of very few community-based (as opposed to professional) organisations.

Claude Deppa

Video features a short clip of Claude Deppa/Omar Puente@Seven Jazz Leeds 025.MOV

South African born trumpeter and composer Claude Deppa can turn his hand to Afro-jazz, soul, funk, Afro-Cuban and even chamber music as well as many sub-genres. Claude has worked with many bands and been on stage with top stars like Miriam Makeba, Manu Dibango, Tony Allen and Andy Sheppard in Britain (where he is presently based), Europe and also more widely internationally. He has a very hectic schedule. Claude has also developed his own three special projects and these are African Jazz Explosion, Horns Unlimited and Five Funky Fellas. Each of these bands are often on stage at top venues including London’s South Bank. Five Funky Fellas were on the Africa stage at the BBC Music Live festival over the Golden Jubilee Celebrations at London’s Hyde Park in summer 2002. Claude’s story of his experiences growing up in South Africa and then coming to Britain in 1974 is printed in the book ‘Celebrating Sanctuary’, published in 2002. He says his family were all very musical and at first he learnt to play drums. At secondary school in London he decided the trumpet would be his main instrument, with its loud punchy sound. From his South African background he has the vocals and harmonies while he has got the jazz improvising skills from his time in Europe. Another very vibrant project that Claude is a part of is the Grand Union Orchestra. Look out for Claude’s CD, Toi-Toi (2003): it’s a fantastic blend of funky and more mellow tracks, with some interesting printed notes by Claude himself. He particiapted in London’s big African Music Festival in May 2004. Claude’s energy for his music certainly seems to know no bounds!

Paula Gardiner

Video featuring Paula Gardiner on Double Bass with the Dave Stapleton Quartet, live from Zagreb

Paula Gardiner’s presence on the Welsh Jazz scene has been an inspiring one for a long time. As well as heading up the Jazz course at the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama, Paula is the Honorary President of the Swansea-based organisation, Women in Jazz. In fact, Paula has been so active around the region that it is surprising that she has yet to achieve the wider recognition in Britain and Europe that she so richly deserves. She is also an experienced and accomplished composer for community, concert and media settings. One of Britain’s most lyrical and melodic bass players, Paula Gardiner is also an accomplished classical guitarist and flautist. Guitar was her first instrument and through her classical studies, she grew to love the music of Bach and also that of Brazilian and Argentinean composers, like Leo Brouwer, Manuel Ponce, Egberto Gismonte and Hermeto Pascoal. Her first influences from the Jazz world came from European players like Eberhard Weber, highly melodic musicians and composers, who draw on a European heritage, as well as on Jazz.

The BBC Performing Arts Fund is a registered charity, number 1101276. The charity (formerly Fame Academy Bursary Trust) was set up in 2003 within the BBC. The fund receives revenue from the voting lines of BBC One entertainment programmes that seek to find new performing talent (including The Voice, How Do you Solve A Problem Like Maria? and Over the Rainbow). To date the fund has allocated more than £4 million to talented performing arts individuals and community groups, as well as offering mentoring and advice to help them achieve their goals. The Fund’s mission is to seek out and support aspiring performing arts individuals and community groups who, for reasons of lack of existing support, personal background or circumstance, would not have been able to achieve their most ambitious goals or greatest potential without the Fund’s support or intervention.

For more information about this project, please contact and to learn more about Wonderbrass themselves and upcoming performances, check out their website