Band’s Six Nations performance ‘beyond all expectations’

Campbeltown Brass during the band's soundcheck at Murrayfield Stadium.
Campbeltown Brass during the band's soundcheck at Murrayfield Stadium.

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A musician who played with Campbeltown Brass as the band performed the French national anthem before Sunday’s Scotland v France Six Nations rugby match said the experience was ‘beyond all expectations’.

Katrina Barr said: ‘It was just amazing. I can’t describe how good it was, from start to finish.’

Conductor Stephanie Mitchell added: ‘It was an amazing experience – one I’ll never forget.’

Campbeltown Brass performed before the televised match at Murrayfield Stadium after being recommended by the resident band, Whitburn, which was unavailable to perform.

The senior band’s 35 members were joined by five friends, including former members who have now moved away from Campbeltown, to make up numbers, as 40 musicians are required to play.

Band members had an early start on Sunday, arriving at Murrayfield at 8.45am for their accreditation. The process was thorough, with all instrument cases, suit carriers and bags being checked, meaning they had to head straight for their soundcheck at 10.30am.

‘We were all really nervous because we didn’t know what to expect,’ Katrina said, ‘but we were given a chaperone for the day, who was wonderful. She put us at ease, told us exactly what to do, taking us through our soundcheck and marching us on and off the field.’

Katrina explained the event was well run, with another full dress rehearsal, timed to the milli-second, before the televised performance.

‘The stadium was at capacity. There were 67,500 spectators,’ Katrina added. ‘There was fireworks and pyrotechnics. It was unbelievable.’

She says those watching on television missed the build up before the match, which included a set by Tide Lines after which the Scottish pop/rock band accompanied 120 Highland dancers as the national flags were brought out.

‘The French fans were singing pretty much bang in time with us,’ Katrina said. ‘Stephanie has had messages from professional musicians congratulating her on keeping the tempo at a really good speed for the French fans.’

The band not only represented Campbeltown during the performance but also one of the town’s oldest brands as all players sported new soft-shell jackets featuring the Springbank Distillery logo as well as the band’s.

Katrina said: ‘Having the Springbank jackets was a God-send. It was so cold! We were standing on the sidelines for a while, so massive thanks to Springbank for sponsoring them.’

The band was not allowed to stay and watch the rugby match but must have proven a lucky charm for the Scottish national team, which won 28-17.

Whitburn has already said members of Campbeltown Brass are welcome to perform alongside its players at future matches and the full band is in with a chance of filling the slot at other matches Whitburn cannot attend.

Katrina said the performance is among the band’s top experiences. ‘All the younger players are just raving about it,’ she said.

The senior band had a busy weekend, performing at the Scottish Championships at Perth Concert Hall on Saturday. The band placed eighth, securing its place in the section for another year.

Campbeltown residents were lucky to get a preview of both pieces the band performed at the weekend – Legacy, the set test piece at the championships, and La Marseillaise, France’s national anthem – at an open rehearsal at the Masonic Lodge on Thursday March 4.

Campbeltown Brass on the pitch before the match kicked off.
Campbeltown Brass on the pitch before the match kicked off.