2009 National Youth Championships - Runners & Riders


There are five titles up for grabs on the weekend at the Royal Northern College of Music.

Training Band Section
RNCM Concert Hall
Starts at 12.40pm
Results: Approx 2.35pm

15 minutes own choice playing time
Adjudicators: Katrina Marzella & Michelle Ibbotson

Competing bands:

1. Dobcross Juniors (Melanie Garlick): Debutants
2. Smithy Bridge Primary School (Lee Rigg): Debutants
3. Stockport Schools (Rachel Pavey): Debutants
4. West Lancashire Schools (Georgina Roberts): Debutants

This has the potential to grow into perhaps the most significant section of these championships in the years to come, so these four bands could well be creating a little bit of their own history on the weekend.

Katrina Marzella and Michelle Ibbotson will pick a winner of course, but this inaugural contest is all about sheer brass band enjoyment. 

Junior Band Section
Bruntwood Theatre
Starts: 9.25am
Results: Approx 11.20am

Own Choice programme that must include one piece of original music composed for brass band in their 15 minutes playing time.

Adjudicators: Michelle Ibbtoson & Katrina Marzella

Competing bands:

1. City of Leeds Schools (Gordon Eddison): 3rd place, Junior Section, 2008 (as City of Leeds Junior Band)
2. Cwmtawe Training Band (Wayne Pedrick): Silver Certificate, Junior Section, 2008
3. Gwynedd Mon Junior Band (John Glyn Jones): Runners up, Gold Certificate, Junior Section, 2008
4. Stockport Schools Inter Band (TBA)

Just four bands will get the day’s proceedings underway in the Bruntwood Theatre on Sunday morning in the Junior Section. 

A new winner is guaranteed though, with Fred Longworth Youth Band (High School last year) now in the Intermediate Section, and this is always a great section to listen to and enjoy. 

Gwynedd Mon Junior Band finished runners up last year and they'll fancy their chances of going one better this time.  Fellow Welsh contender, Cwmtawe Training Band, stay in this section (as opposed to the Training) and they also gave a good account of themselves last year too. 

City of Leeds were excellent last year also (all be it under a different name) whilst 4BR has seen plenty of Stockport School Bands in the past, and if the Junior level is as strong as their Seniors, then they'll be a band to watch out for. 

Intermediate Section
Bruntwood Theatre
Starts: 11.50am
Results: Approx 7.35pm

Test Piece: The Pioneers (Philip Sparke) and Own Choice programme of 20 minutes playing time.
Adjudicators: Philip Harper & David Horsfield

Competing bands:

1. Chalford Youth (Steve Tubb): Bronze Certificate, Community Section, 2008
2. Dobcross Youth (Brian Lamb): Bronze Certificate, Community Section, 2007
3. Elland Youth (Samantha Harrison): Silver Certificate, Community Section, 2008
4. Enderby Youth (Trevor Hounsome): Bronze Certificate, Community Section, 2008
5. Fred Longworth Youth Band (Helen Robinson): Winners, Gold Certificate, Junior Section, 2008
6. Gloucestershire Youth (Ian Porthouse): Silver Certificate, County Section, 2008
7. Horbury Victoria (Tom Greaterox):  Silver Certificate, Community Section, 2008
8. Lions Youth (Nigel Birch): Silver Certificate, Community Section, 2008
9. Macclesfield Youth (Louise Renshaw): Bronze Certificate, Community Section, 2008
10. Oldham Music Centre (Martyn Evans): Silver Certificate, County Section, 2008
11. Poynton Youth (Andy Hirst): Silver Certificate, Community Section, 2008
12. Smithills School, (Chris Wormald): Winners, Gold Certificate, Schools Section, 2008
13. Tewitt Youth (Craig Ratcliffe): Silver Certificate, Community Section, 2008
14. Wardle High School (Lee Rigg): Runners-up, Gold Certificate, Schools Section, 2008
15. Worcestershire Youth Band (Nicky Daw): Silver Certificate, County Section, 2008

The biggest section of the day - and a tough one to call, as there are plenty of evenly matched ensembles up against one another. 

The test piece, ‘The Pioneers’ by Philip Sparke provides an upbeat and accessible work to challenge the contenders both musically and technically and has been a popular work ever since it was commissioned by Lynda Nicholson for the inaugural National Children's Brass Band Course in 2004.

The title referred to the fact that the NCBB was starting out on a new adventure but was also a salute to the bicentenary of an expedition by two of the composer’s heroes – Meriwether Lewis and William Clark.

They were commissioned by US President Thomas Jefferson to find the headwaters of the Mississippi and a route to the Pacific following the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, which doubled the size of USA. They set out as the ‘Corps of Discovery’, from Louisville, Kentucky, in May 1804, and not only did they succeed in reaching the Pacific through hostile territory, but also found their way back - in 3 years!

The piece is not descriptive of the journey but gives the composer the opportunity to celebrate the 200th anniversary of this amazing feat.

The standard in what was The Community Section in previous years has been tremendous and it promises to be a great tussle. 

There is sure to be plenty of great playing on show with the likes of strong contenders in the shape of Smithills under Chris Wormald, Lee Rigg’s Wardle High and Samantha Harrison with Elland as the recent Action Medical Research Youth Entertainment Contest showed. 

The Lions from Cheshire, are capable of a roar or two (sorry for the pun) and nobody should discount, Oldham Music Centre, Fred Longworth Youth or Gloucestershire Youth – as well as the rest!

Whatever the exhausting outcome, it should be a cracker of a contest. 

Advanced Section
RNCM Concert Hall
Starts: 9.10am

Test Piece: Skylines (Paul Lovatt-Cooper) and Own Choice programme of 20 minutes playing time.
Adjudicators: John Doyle & Simone Rebello

Competing bands:

1. Bolton Youth Band (Helen Minshall): Gold Certificate, County Section, 2008
2. Carnoustie & District Youth (Richard Evans): Gold Certificate in Community Section, 2008
3. Dawson's Berkshire, (John Watts): debutants
4. Sellers International (Mark Bousie): 3rd in Community Section, Gold Certificate, 2008
5. Stockport Schools (Phil Pavey): 3rd in County Section, Gold Certificate, 2008
6. West Glamorgan Youth (J Pearce): debutants

This section is yet another that could turn into being a real cracker. 

The test piece, ‘Skylines’ by Paul Lovatt-Cooper is sure to be music that the players have been able to get their teeth into and enjoy, and it will be fascinating to see how the conductor's go about choosing their four soloists to step forward and play in the middle section of the work. 

At around seven minutes though, great attention will have to be given to the band’s own choice pieces where they will really want to demonstrate their versatility – as shown by four of the six contenders taking Gold Certificates in their respective sections last year. 

Mark Bousie has turned Sellers into a very competent musical ensemble and you know what you'll be getting with Richard Evans and Carnoustie who put on a cracking show last time out and at the Scottish Youth Championships.

Helen Minshall has the knack of bringing the best out of her troops as well and add into the equation, Stockport Schools, West Glamorgan Youth and Dawson's Berkshire, and any result is possible! 

Premier Section
RNCM Concert Hall
Starts at 3.00pm
Results: Approx 6.35pm

Test Piece: Quintessence (Robert Redhead) and Own Choice programme of 25 minutes playing time.
Adjudicators: Major Peter Parkes & Ray Farr

Competing bands:

1. Camborne Youth Band (Alan Pope): Winners, Community Section, Gold Certificate, 2008
2. Rochdale Borough Youth (Eric Landon): Runners-up, County Section, Gold certificate, 2008
3. Hampshire County Youth ( Jock McKenzie): Winners, County Section, Gold Certificate, 2008
4. Northamptonshire Youth (Brad Turnbull): Silver Certificate, Premier Section, 2007
5. St Helens Youth (Mark Bousie): 3rd Premier Section, Gold Certificate, 2007
6. Youth Brass 2000 (Chris Jeans): 2nd in Community Section, Gold Certificate, 2008

There are a whole clutch of really great youth bands to round off the contesting in the Haden Freemam Concert Hall – all of whom know they have the tools in their musical bags to win.

This may be the Elite Section, but my word, they've got a formidable musical challenge to overcome with their test piece, ‘Quintessence’, by Major Robert Redhead. 

Originally written for the Melbourne Staff Band's tour of the UK in 1978 and, more specifically, their participation in The Salvation Army International Congress in London, the music expresses the quintessence of Australian Salvationism.

In five sections it is music that incorporates both original Salvation Army material and Australian folk tunes. With lots of driving rhythms, incisive playing is required and there is an atmospheric central section and there is a majestic conclusion.  Only time will tell, whether the bands can play it or not, but even at this level, its selection raised more than a few eyebrows.

All that and they will still have to have enough about them to play their own choice music too. Whoever comes out on top of this one will surely have deserved it!

As for the contenders? 

Well, the vast majority of the Camborne Band took the West of England Second Section Regional title by a good margin a few weeks ago and they will be keen to continue on their quest to win every section they have competed in at this competition. 

Rochdale has won the Action Medical Research Youth Entertainment contest six times and so has a pedigree second to none, whilst Youth Brass 2000, have taken the honours at Tameside, Butlins and Action Research since last November.  Then you've got, Hampshire who won the County Section last year and Northamptonshire and St Helens too – both of which are perfectly capable of taking the title.

What a way to round off the day then!


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