NYOS Development 2024 | Meet The Artists | Aaron Azunda Akugbo
After performing as a soloist in the NYOS Senior Spring Concert back in 2022, Aaron returns to perform alongside the NYOS Development Orchestra in Spring 2024
Born in 1998 and of Nigerian-Scottish descent, Aaron Azunda Akugbo hails from Edinburgh and is poised as a future leading exponent of his instrument. He brings a wide-ranging musical taste to his artistry and despite being classically trained, cites Louis Armstrong as his biggest musical inspiration. He is a charismatic performer with an abundance of natural humour which translates into an effortless engagement with people and audiences.
In the summer of 2023, Aaron made his BBC Proms concerto debut performing the Haydn Trumpet Concerto with Chineke!, Europe’s first Black and Minority Ethnic orchestra. This followed his third visit to the Lucerne Festival where he joined the Lucerne Festival Strings for a performance of Planel’s Concerto for Trumpet and String Orchestra.
A graduate of the Royal Academy of Music and an ex-principal of the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain, Aaron can often be seen as guest principal in the chairs of some of the most prestigious orchestras in the UK including the Philharmonia, BBC Philharmonic, BBC Symphony and Royal Philharmonic Orchestras.
Other recent and forthcoming highlights include recitals at St George’s Bristol, the Bath International, Lichfield, Glasgow Cathedral, Petworth, Ryedale, St Magnus, Lammermuir and Lucerne Festivals. The latter of which saw him perform the world premiere in 2022 of a new piece by Joy Guidry commissioned for him by the I&I Foundation entitled They know what they’ve done to us. In November 2023 he will embark on an extensive tour of Scotland with duo partner Zeynep Özsuca.
Akugbo made his London concerto debut at the Royal Festival Hall in 2020 playing the Haydn Trumpet Concerto with Chineke! as part of the Southbank Centre’s ‘Behind Closed Doors’ concerts series. His performance received glowing reviews with the Arts Desk describing him as ‘a refined soloist… His sound was sweet, often lyrical… with perfect clarity and intonation’.
He has also performed as soloist with the National Youth Orchestra of Scotland and the Orchestra of the Swan. He made his Wigmore Hall debut playing Saint-Saëns Septet Op. 65 for trumpet, piano and strings with members of Chineke! as well as participating in the orchestra’s tour of Europe playing in halls such as the Royal Concertgebouw Amsterdam and Kölner Philharmonie.
Besides his solo and orchestral performances, Akugbo is also a founding member of Connaught Brass. In 2022 the group were finalists at the Young Classical Artists Trust (YCAT) awards in London and were also selected to be Artists of the Tillett Trust, City Music Foundation and Kirckman Concert Society. They were the inaugural winners of the Philip Jones Brass Ensemble Award in 2019 and attended the prestigious Britten Pears Chamber Music Residency in March 2022.
Akugbo was a finalist in the Girolamo Fantini International Trumpet Competition in 2019 whilst also being awarded the special prize for best performance of ‘Vulcano Club’by Piergiorgio Ratti. Hewas subsequently invited by competition panellist and trumpet soloist, Tine Thing Helseth, to the Risør Kammermusikfest in Norway. Akugbohas received both lessons and masterclasstuitionfrom many of the top trumpet players including Urban Agnas, Reinhold Friedrich, Jeroen Berwaerts, Gabor Tarkovi, Guillaume Jehl and Eric Aubier. He plays on a combination of Vincent Bach Stradivarius and Scherzer instruments.
You can discover more about Aaron by visiting his website, or following him on social media:
‘Trumpeter Aaron Akugbo was a refined soloist in Haydn's Trumpet Concerto in E flat major. His sound was sweet, often lyrical, with the ability to play both legato and to manage the treacherous multi-octave leaps that Haydn sets as challenges to the soloist. The second movement was especially fine, with Akugbo's phrasing of the lyrical solo line. The third movement's acrobatics were played with perfect clarity and intonation’.
The Arts Desk
Photography: © Olivia De Costa