Each week, the OUMS newsletter features an interview with someone who positively contributes to the Oxford music scene. This week, we sat down with cornet-player and OUBB member Carys Owen, to ask about her love of OUBB, UniBrass, kazoos, and plans for the rest of the year!
Carys Owen (she/her)
OUBB Cornet Player
Tell us a bit about yourself!
I’m Carys, a History of Art & Visual Culture MSt student at St John’s – although I’m not new to Oxford as I’ve just finished my undergraduate degree here too! Since I joined I’ve been lucky enough to be principal cornet of the Oxford University Brass Band, and over the last few years I’ve held various committee roles including president and contest secretary, and I’m the current press & publicity officer.
What are you working on (with OUBB!) at the moment?
OUBB has never had a more exciting and busier period than it does right now! We’re currently only one week out from our next concert on October 22nd in the St John’s auditorium (tickets can be bought here!). This concert is extra special as we’re doing it jointly with the Wantage Band – the championship section band from the highly respected local Wantage Band organisation. The programme is completely eclectic and diverse, ranging from pop songs to classical music, film tunes to grand fanfares. I wouldn’t want to give away any surprises about what the concert might hold, but all I’ll say is that in my pidge this week there’s been 24 kazoos delivered… As soon as we get this concert wrapped up it’s straight onto the next thing, with our trip to perform at the Glasshouse International Centre for Music (aka the Sage) up in Gateshead in November. As part of our prize for winning UniBrass, we’ve been invited to perform a 45-minute set before the prestigious Brass in Concert contest begins later in the day. For this performance, we will be featuring our winning ‘Brasstonbury’ set, music from the Wantage concert, as well as music we’re getting started for next year’s UniBrass – so plenty of repertoire to keep us busy!
What has your favourite musical experience been at Oxford so far?
Hands down, winning the UniBrass Shield and most entertaining band awards at UniBrass 2023 was the best thing ever to happen while doing music at Oxford. Having never come higher than 5th in the history of the contest (way back in 2017) it was a true underdog success moment and I’ve never been prouder. The colourful fun we bought to the contest - under the amazing leadership of Alice Knight - was such a joy to put together and it’s really changed both how OUBB is perceived and how it perceives itself. The outpouring of support from friends and alumni online after the event was amazing too!
On a personal note, having the contest win at Warwick Uni was extra special for me since it’s so close to home. My family and so many friends from my home brass band were there as audience members, event volunteers, and other competitors. It felt so amazing to have everyone there to see us. I first watched UniBrass in amazement with my mum years earlier at Warwick Uni, and I’d also later perform as the pre-result entertainment there with my youth band, so it felt very much a full circle moment.
Where can you see yourself going in the future?
Who knows what the future holds! I’m hoping to work in the museums and heritage sector following university, maybe working in roles about education, access, and engagement. What I do know for sure though is that wherever I may end up living, there will be a local brass band and a whole new musical chapter waiting.
Give us a music recommendation!
My all-time favourite band is Easy Life, an indie band from Leicester (my home city) who’ve been building their reputation since 2017 with great tracks like ‘Nightmares’ – I love anything that includes a bit of brass! Unbelievably, having been threatened with a crippling lawsuit by EasyGroup, owners of Easy Jet, they’ve been forced to change their name going forward. As Easy Life they’ve just released their final song ‘Trust Exercises’ so have a listen and show some support in these crazy times.
For more information about OUBB, including about upcoming concerts, see the page on our website!
To find out more about the OUMS newsletter and our interviews, email Christopher at email@example.com.