Leon Ni prizewinner at Passau

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The Ni Ensemble has won the International Brass Ensemble Competition in Passau. The brass quintet includes trombonist Leon Ni, who now plays for the Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg and has lived in Britain for several years. Until three years ago he was Principal Trombone at Scottish Opera and before that in 1999/2000 he studied at the Royal Academy of Music in London, where he originally established the ensemble. Ni Ensemble with Passau cultural attache Dr. Max Brunner (l) and head judge Frigyes Hidas (r) The jury headed by Hungarian composer Frigyes Hidas, awarded the quintet not only first prize in the professional section, but also a special prize for best interpretation of an original piece for brass ensemble for Victor Ewald's Quintet No. 2. The rest of their programme included Lutoslawki's Mini Overture, Kerry Turner's Ricochet, and Handel's Arrival of the Queen of Sheba. Second place went to the Extreme Trombone Quartet from Hungary and third place went to L'Or Notes Brass Quintet from Paris. The ensemble is comprised of Heather Madeira Ni (trumpet), Isabelle Marois (trumpet with the Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg), Kristina Mascher (solo horn with the Flemish Radio Orchestra), Leon Ni (solo trombone with the Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg) and David Polkinhorn (solo tuba with the Saarbr?cken Radio Orchestra). Each of these players lives either in or near Luxembourg and, while none is Luxembourgeois, the group includes three Americans, one Canadian, and one Englishman - each very happy to be residing in this small, but culturally wealthy, country. The group wanted to thank Kerry Turner in public for his support, advice, and music during preparation for the competition. BTS News caught up with Leon Ni to find out how thing have been going for him personally in Luxembourg since leaving Scotland.

I've been doing well, thanks, and the Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg has been a really nice job. I've really enjoyed the international flavour of the orchestra as we have musicians from all over Europe, the Americas, and Asia. The trombone section itself is half French and half American. The mix of nationalities gives the orchestra a really unique and interesting sound. Since my arrival here, we've got a new musical director, Emmanuel Krivine, and a beautiful new concert hall. I have to say that I'm quite happy here. The orchestra plays at a high level and is filled with wonderful, talented, and sympathetic colleagues. I think the hardest thing to adapt to here is the languages. Over the years, I will have the learn the three official languages of the country: French, German and Luxembourgeois. I've reached a conversational level in French and am just starting to study a little bit of German. I am probably a good five or six years off being able to have conversations in all three! Luckily for my children, they probably will adapt much faster as they can already speak Luxembourgeois at a good level.
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