A new era for the National Youth Brass Band Championships of Great Britain will start at Warwick School (CV34 6PP) on Saturday (30th March).
Emboldened by their new funding stream and encouraging signs of grass roots membership growth, Brass Bands England has taken a close look at the event and has shifted its focus - retaining the contesting element but introducing what they believe is a much more realistic and encouraging environment for youngsters to enjoy competitive music making.
It’s a tricky task, especially as its been undertaken at a time when the well publicised pressures on peripatetic music services across the whole of the UK have started to impact on extracurricular educational activities such as youth banding, whilst there has also been a deep level of concern over the way safeguarding procedures such as Child Performance Licensing have been highlighted and strictly adhered to.
The message from BBE about the aims and objectives that it now embraces for these championships will therefore take time to become familiar and accepted, but it’s still encouraging that 30 bands and ensembles will take part this year.
It is certainly something that Brass Bands England Chair Mike Kilroy addresses in his introduction to the event:
“We believe that encouraging youth development must encompass all facets of the brass band community and that youth brass bands in the UK deserve the finest platform to showcase them,” he says.
“As we look to the future, we will continue to develop the event to provide additional opportunities to showcase the talents and commitment of young people.
I know you will be truly inspired and encouraged by the brilliance and commitment of these young people who, with the assistance and support of all of us, will secure the future of brass bands in this country.”
We believe that encouraging youth development must encompass all facets of the brass band community and that youth brass bands in the UK deserve the finest platform to showcase them - Mike Kilroy
Meanwhile, Darren Henley, the CEO of Arts Council England, who will be a welcome guest, adds: “Brass bands play a significant role in the country’s creativity. The social, educational and economic value of this community-based, yet internationally recognised, art form is clear.
We’re just as eager as you are to see brass band music maintaining its rightful place at the top of the international rankings – and we’re keen to play our part in helping to make that happen!”
The size of BBE's ambition for the event may be more realistic than in years gone by
Plenty of encouragement from on high then for the changes and new focus, ones which BBE, CEO Kenneth Crookston also hopes to build on.
“The BBE team members all hope that you all have a fantastic experience at this year’s Youth Champs and look forward to welcoming you and the next generations of young brass musicians back to your event for many years to come!”
It all takes place in two excellent venues at Warwick School, with the Elementary Section starting at 10.00am followed by the Championship Section in the Warwick Hall, whilst the Bridge House Theatre will see the Intermediate Section (11.30am) followed by the Intermediate Section (3.00pm)
There is a sure to be a great atmosphere with presenters Dave Benson Philips and Dave Hayward and adjudicators Owen Farr, Sam Fisher, Simone Rebello, Christopher Bond, Steve Sykes and Richard Ward all ready to encourage and reward the endeavours of those taking part.
4BR will be making the trip to work with Brass Bands England to give you a taste of what is going on and to find out more about the competitors and their own aims and ambitions for the future.
This is just what the name implies, and will see four ensembles for youngsters aged 12 years and under, take part.
The aim is to give those just starting out on what will hopefully be a lifetime of playing in brass bands the opportunity of enjoying their first taste of a non competitive public performance.
It’s all about positivity and encouragement. There is no prescription to what can be played on for their 10 minutes in the spotlight - so trumpets, French horns, plastic instruments can be used, whilst adults are encouraged to help out to inspire confidence and have just as much fun!
The Elementary Section (14 and under) is a natural progression; the aim to give the youngsters in the seven bands their first experience of competitive performance by performing for 15 minutes.
They must include one original piece of music for brass band and two verses of a hymn from the ‘120 Hymn Tunes’ book.
Bands may have assistance from up to two adult helpers in their performance and once again, non-standard instruments are allowed.
Three podium places will be decided, with the winners taking the BFBB Cup, plus a banner and trophy, whilst all the performances will be graded at either Gold, Silver, Bronze of Merit level in recognition of their level of achievement.
The Intermediate Section (16 and under) will see seven bands in a more prescribed competition, introducing them to the concept of assessment on original brass band music in preparation for advancement to performing test-pieces in future years.
They will each perform a 20 minute programme which must include an original brass band work of at least seven minutes in duration. Non-standard instruments are allowed.
Once again, three podium places will be decided, with the winners taking the BBE Chairman’s Cup, plus a banner and trophy, whilst all the performances will be graded at either Gold, Silver, Bronze of Merit level in recognition of their level of achievement.
In addition, the winning band in this section will be eligible to represent England in the Development Section of the 2020 European Youth Championships in Palanga in Lithuania.
Championship Section: (18 years and under)
The final step is the Championship Section (18 and under) which aims to give the twelve competitors the opportunity to perform at a high standard, enabling those still in formal education to hopefully bridge the gap to the adult banding environment.
The twelve bands will each perform a 20 minute programme which must include the set-work, ‘Corineus’ by Cornish composer Christopher Bond. Inspired by the mythological figure who was alleged to be the first ruler of Conwall, an incredible warrior and the father of some troublesome offspring!
As in the other sections, non-traditional brass band instrumentation can be used, with three podium places to be decided, with the winners taking the BBE President’s Cup, plus a banner and trophy, whilst all the performances will be graded at either Gold, Silver, Bronze of Merit level in recognition of their level of achievement.
In addition, the highest placed English band in this section will be eligible to represent the nation in the Premier Section of the 2020 European Youth Championships in Palanga in Lithuania.
Debut Section: (12 years of age and under)
Bridge House Theatre
Start: 3.00pm (approx)
Adjudicators: Owen Farr & Sam Fisher
1. Lions Beginner Band (Megan Bousfield)
2. Hounslow Junior Brass (Alan Goodall)
3. Brass of the Saff (Julie Maxwell)
4. Don’t Forget Your Mouthpiece (John Randall)
Elementary Section: (14 years and under)
Adjudicators: Simone Rebello & Christopher Bond
1. Cottenham Brass Juniors (Craig Gallacher)
2. Dobcross Youth Training Band (Seth Livingstone)
3. Band Iau Gwasanaeth Cerdd Ysgolion Gwynedd a Mon (Lois Eifion)
4. Stockport Schools Junior Brass Band (Andrew Myers)
5. Outwood Academy Brass (Michael Dodd)
6. Lions Junior Brass (Tom Hancock)
7. Macclesfield Youth Junior Band (Tim Grindey)
Intermediate Section: (16 years of age and under)
Bridge House Theatre
Adjudicators: Owen Farr & Sam Fisher
1. Chalford Youth Band (Steve Tubb)
2. Fred Longworth High School (Helen Robinson)
3. Wardle Academy School Band (Lee Rigg)
4. Stockport Schools Intermediate Brass Band (Tom Ridgley)
5. Egglescliffe School Brass Band (Matthew Haworth)
6. Elland Silver Training Band (Samantha Harrison)
7. Tewit Youth Intermediate Band (Martin Tromans)
Championship Section: (18 years of age and under)
Adjudicators: Steve Sykes & Richard Ward
1. Lions Youth Brass (Nigel Birch)
2. Band Hyn Gwasanaeth Cerdd Ysgolion Gwynedd a Mon (Dylan Williams)
3. Macclesfield Youth (Louise Renshaw)
4. Oldham Music Centre (Jonathan Leedale)
5. Cardiff County and Vale of Glamorgan Youth (Charles Maynard)
6. Enderby Youth (Trevour Hounsome)
7. Rochdale Borough Youth (Ben Dixon)
8. Tewit Youth Senior Band (Martin Hall)
9. MK Youth Brass (Phil Devine)
10. Stockport Schools’ Senior Brass Band (Iain McKnight)*
11. Youth Brass 2000 (Chris Jeans)
12. Northamptonshire County Youth (Brad Turnbull)
*Performing to receive an adjudication only