Michael Thorne

Mike

Michael joined the Burry Port Junior Band in 1978 and a few weeks later progressed to the senior band. At school, he was taught by Haydn Phillips, a brilliant teacher and exceptional musician, who helped and encouraged Michael to become passionate about music and explore the various careers that it offered. After a few years he became principal horn of the National Youth Brass Band of Wales where he was further inspired by world renowned tenor horn soloist Gordon Higginbottom who was horn tutor on the course and later became Michael’s teacher. They have remained friends ever since and it was perhaps fitting that in recent years Michael enjoyed a stint as tenor horn tutor for this incredibly talented youth brass band. The band’s conductor at this time was composer Edward Gregson who became another pivotal figure in Michael’s musical career as he was senior lecturer in music at the University of London, Goldsmiths College and was the main reason why he chose to study there – and in fact became Michael’s conducting tutor. Whilst at Goldsmith’s, Michael turned his attention to the French Horn and enjoyed a spell as the college orchestra’s principal horn player. After obtaining a bachelor’s degree in music and PGCE from Goldsmiths, Michael decided to return to Wales and further his musical life through teaching, playing and conducting.

Michael first became musical director of Burry Port Brass Band in 1992 and enjoyed the thrills and spills that this association provided. Under his direction the band has won many admirers through their concert and contest performances. They also become an established championship section band rising to a top thirty position in the world rankings for brass bands. Around this time, Michael joined the world famous Cory band from the Rhondda and was proud and honoured to become their principal horn player and resident conductor; this partnership lasted for a little over 8 years when the rigours of 16 hour days and treacherous mountain roads finally took their toll.

As a player and conductor Michael has performed at prestigious concert venues such as the Albert Hall, Symphony Hall, Bridgewater Hall, St David’s Hall, Wales Millennium Centre, and has toured extensively in Europe and parts of North America. He has played in nearly all, and conducted in some, of the major brass band championships such as the British Open, National Championship finals, European brass band championships, Brass in Concert, Grand Shield, Senior Cup (winning conductor 2005), Senior Trophy and of course the National Eisteddfod of Wales (winning conductor 1998 (Cory), 2002, 2006 & 2014 (all with Burry Port). He has worked with and played under some notable musicians over the years, for example James Watson, Robert and Nicholas Childs, Frank Renton, Major Arthur Kenney, James Shepherd, Steve Sykes, Philippe Schartz, Martyn Brabbins, Grant Llewellyn, Gregory Rose, Adrian Sutton, Shân Cothi and John Owen Jones.

Michael has recently ‘retired’ from full-time playing but looks forward to returning to the world of conducting in his new tenure as Co-Principal Conductor of the band. As well as teaching music with the Carmarthenshire Music Service, Michael owns and runs his own psychotherapy practice, Harbour Light Therapy, having qualified with a bachelor’s degree in psychology, a foundation degree in counselling, and a diploma in psychotherapy. He is married to Kym and they have a wonderful son, Sam, who plays in the junior band.