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2013 National Youth Championships of Great Britain — Retrospective

Malcolm Wood looks back on the National Youth Championships — where a gold medal was fully deserved for Brass Bands England as well as well as for the very best competitors.

National Youth winners
Everyone's a winner...

‘The problem with the youth of today...’ is a phrase that apparently gets on the wick of adjudicator, Sarah Groake-Booth.

Not surprising really, after she revealed that she had enjoyed such a wonderful day at the National Youth Championships at Manchester’s RNCM. 

Her overriding impression was simply that; “There's no problem with the youth of today: You lot are fantastic.”

Impossible

Perhaps it was a bit of a sweeping statement, but you would have found it nigh on impossible to find anyone who would have disagreed with her.

The headlines will of course go to the 42 bands, the players, conductors, helpers and supporters that made it such an enjoyable occasion, but plaudits should also be given to Brass Bands England, who now organise the event with considerable care, foresight and expertise. 

Real success

These Championships are a real BBE success story.

Dedication, ambition and enjoyment oozed out of every note played by the young players in each of the four sections – the result of which was hour upon hour of high quality music making that showcased excellence in abundance.

The highlights came thick and fast: From the startling nine year old cornet soloist, Ela Haf Williams from Ysgol Bontnewydd Primary in the Beginners Section, to the trio of Gold Award ensemble performances from Gwynedd, Carnoustie and Greater Gwent in the Championship event.

Other star performers, such as ‘Best Instrumentalist’ winners Michael Cavanagh and Calum Tonner from Stockport Schools and Carnoustie respectively, also showed that the banding movement is currently blessed with plenty of exceptional playing talent.

Special mention

A special mention must also go to the MDs too - all of whom directed their charges with encouragement and determination. Long gone are the days of grim-faced contest endeavour: The new breed of conductors really are an inspirational lot.    

The BBE Music Panel also deserves a massive pat on the back for coming up with two cracking set work choices; pieces that asked demanding, yet achievable questions of developing players.

Timeless

Denis Wright's 'Tintagel' and Philip Sparke's 'The Prizewinners' came from opposite ends of the historical spectrum, although both gave ample opportunity to explore the timeless qualities of lyrical musicality and rhythmic precision.

They certainly sorted the bands out good and proper, yet neither piece was beyond any competitor’s grasp.

With the organisers also insisting on adherence to traditional brass band virtues in the Beginners and Junior Sections, it meant that there was also an opportunity for the excellent selection panel of judges to compare and contrast thanks to the well chosen own choice repertoire.

Gold medals

The result of which meant that all the competitions were closely contested, allowing the adjudicators to give a much more considered reflection of the standard of playing on show with their awards: Gold’s were hard earned and thoroughly deserved.

Brass Bands England deserves a shiny gold medal too.

Their outstanding organisation of a long and complex day ran like clockwork, thanks to the army of volunteers that worked smoothly under the watchful eyes of Arnold Tattersfield and Gary Walczak, whilst Sally Coleman (RNCM Concert Hall) and Dave Hayward (RNCM Theatre) were excellent comperes.

Problem

The only problem for BBE is that as it stands, there is no confirmed date for 2014 due to the proposed renovation of the RNCM.

It will be hard to find somewhere that can offer such a compact, yet accessible venue, although 4BR was informed that the process is already under way.

You can only hope it can offer another day as splendid as this.

Malcolm Wood



Black Dyke Band - Gladstone Theatre

Sunday 26 January • Gladstone Theatre, Greendale Road,Birkenhead,. Wirral CH62 4XB


Contest: Brass in the Wire

Sunday 26 January • Pyramid and Parr Hall, Palmyra Square, Warrington WA1 1BL


Tredegar Town Band - RNCM Festival of Brass

Sunday 26 January • Royal Northern College of Music. 124 Oxford Road, Manchester M13 9RD


Regent Hall Concerts - Guards Virtuosi

Friday 31 January • Charlton House. Charlton Road. London. SE7 8RE SE7 8RE


Regent Hall Concerts - Countess of Wessex's String Orchestra

Friday 31 January • Regent Hall (The Salvation Army). 275 Oxford Street . (Opposite RESERVED). London. W1C 2DJ W1C 2DJ


Frampton on Severn Silver Band

January 26 • We are a friendly non-contesting band in Gloucestershire looking for players, in particular cornets, euphonium and Eb bass, but all are welcome. We play at local events and bandstand jobs, and practice on Tuesday evenings just off J13 of the M5.


Heath Band

January 26 • Our Friendly and growing band would be delighted to welcome players of all ages and abilities on all instruments, but especially solo horn, euphonium, solo cornet and percussion. Based near Leighton Buzzard we rehearse on Wednesday evenings.


Heath Band

January 26 • Our friendly band is looking for a new MUSICAL DIRECTOR. Based near Leighton Buzzard we practise on a Wednesday evening. We are a long established band with a mixed ability of players of all ages seeking an MD who will continue to move the band forward.


Ian Porthouse


Cornet soloist, clinician, conductor and adjudicator


               

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