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Musical Director of Manx National Youth Band celebrates 40 years of dedication

Friday 29 October in Entertainment

This year marks a very important milestone for one of the Island’s well-known musical figures. Musical Director of the Manx National Youth Band, Ian Clague MBE, has celebrated forty years at the helm this month, after taking over the position from Jimmy Crosbie. Ian was formerly appointed on 13 October 1981, already familiar with the role after standing in during times of need.

Speaking with Islandlife, Ian has been reflecting on his musical career:

Congratulations on achieving this incredible milestone. What does it mean for you to reach this stage?

It means a lot – it’s been 40 years but it certainly has flown by! I’ve enjoyed being able to continue the great work of Jimmy because he was the first conductor who taught me and hugely influenced my musical career. He had a great gift and one of the things I always said when offered the position was that I would try to carry on his legacy of dedication. I’ve always enjoyed helping younger people getting involved with music because it teaches them unique values about both commitment and teamwork – values that you may not find anywhere else.

What inspired you to become a musician and get involved with the Island’s music fraternity?

Though I had always played piano from a young age, it was my school band’s conductor, and my future musical director, Jimmy Crosbie, who I looked up. I heard my school band practising one evening, he was conducting and that’s when I fell in love with music. Since then I haven’t looked back. After I joined the youth band, I played with the Edge Hill British Rail band in Liverpool whilst I was studying at university. Once I graduated I returned to the Island and was fortunate enough to get a position in the band.

I love being able to create music in any shape or form – it’s a wonderful gift.

You have such a strong passion for musical performance. Why is music so important to you?

It’s being able listen to the tunes that just grab you by the ear and make you go ‘wow’! The feeling that comes with it makes you feel alive - I just love music! I also like being able to pass on what I’ve learnt to younger people because it’s really rewarding.

What has been the highlight of your career?

Ahh there’s quite a number! The first time I took the band to the Manx Music Festival will always stick with me as it’s nice to see all your hard work pay off, but forming Manx Concert Brass (for senior players out of the Youth Band) was lovely because it’s nice to watch young people benefit from what you created.

Another moment that never leaves me is when Concert Brass won the Fourth Section National Championships in 1996, which was incredible we had so little experience of competing.

Then, of course, there’s the 1984 Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Conference, as well as playing for Her Majesty the Queen and Prince Phillip - I’ve also loved performing for the Gateway Club each Christmas, an organisation which does so much for those with learning and physical disabilities

But one of the most humbling experiences I will never forget, was in 2000 when I was awarded an MBE I couldn’t, [and still can’t] quite believe what was happening – I’m very honoured to receive this.

Can you sum up this whole experience in one sentence?

It’s been delightful – I don’t regret anything I’ve done and would do it all again.

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