A Tribute to David Thornton after Ten Years as Solo Euphonium with Black Dyke
David Thornton recently decided to relinquish his position as the Principal Euphonium player with Black Dyke, after ten years of quite outstanding service. I'd like to pay tribute to his playing and his unswerving loyalty to Black Dyke.
David is a remarkable euphonium player and has been pretty much ever since I first met him as a young student at Chethams School of Music. Even then, there was a careful attention to all aspects of playing; a fluent technique allied to a rich singing tone, displaying a real sense of purpose in all aspects of preparation for lessons and performances. He was able to memorise extended pieces very quickly and has, as yet, never been excelled as the most prepared student I ever had. His musical development matured during his five years at the RNCM where he embraced and enjoyed all opportunities offered him by this great school, performing concerti with college wind and brass bands. My role as teacher adjusted to a more natural role of advisor as David's musicianship was so instinctive; he needed only the odd word for me. His destiny as solo euphonium of the world's most famous brass band seemed clear to me even then. After periods as solo euphonium at Wingates and Faireys, the moment finally arrived.
David's dedication to Black Dyke was total, quickly making the position one in which the solo euphonium, in the best Dyke tradition, was the leading sonic inspiration for the ‘right half' of the band , as well as its magnificent bass section. But David isn't just a brass bander, he is also a musician who embraces new repertoire, taking every opportunity to premiere and perform new works with the Band and recorded the solo CD ‘Three Stories, Three Worlds'. In my opinion, David Thornton and David Childs seem to be the only two top euphonium players in the UK brass band movement who seem to care one jot about serious original repertoire for the euphonium! A bold statement maybe but the facts speak for themselves. He commissioned new works, and played them at major festivals. He cares passionately about the euphonium as an instrument, a trait he exhibited from an early age. The quality of the musical experiences at Chethams School clearly stand him in good stead for his personal musical journey and for ten years Black Dyke was a beneficiary.
Those who've got to know David well, know he is a fearless performer who never exhibits an over-inflated sense of self-importance . He is humble but focussed, confident yet modest, as all great performers should be.
There was never any doubting David's role as a loyal ‘team player' at Black Dyke, loyal to his band colleagues and fiercely proud of the Band's reputation, never once letting his guard slip. Whether it was a National title win or a disappointing contest result, David always took it with a calm acceptance. With every challenge, be it on contest platform or gala concert, David always gave it a hundred per cent. Most brass band players can only begin to imagine the pressure that being a soloist with this band creates. Every week the band plays to full halls and has to fulfil great expectation, with the weight of a hundred and fifty years of history weighing on the players shoulders. David dealt with all this in his quiet way, with immaculate preparation continuing to be the key to his excellent performance.
Audiences the world over have enjoyed his performances with Black Dyke, both live and on CD.
There is not a shadow of a doubt he will be missed at Black Dyke. A musical giant has hung up the famous black and gold jacket and will now embark on the next stage of his career. Now he will have time to pursue other musical activities including conducting, and possibly adjudication, but of one thing I'm sure, his dedication to euphonium performance will not change. He is a euphonium player. His passion for the instrument is inextinguishable, and you can be sure there is so much more to come.
Meantime I wanted to pay this tribute to David, as his former teacher, friend, and now colleague on the teaching staff at the RNCM. Bravo David, on a job well done.