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National Youth Brass Band of Wales

Conductor: Philip Harper
Soloist: Sheona White
RWCMD
Cardiff
Sunday 28th July


A new era of stability now sees the National Youth Brass Band of Wales share a developmental platform alongside its National Youth Theatre, Orchestra, Choir, Dance and Wind Orchestra siblings under the organisational umbrella of the National Youth Arts Wales body.

And although funding streams remain tight, the artistic ambition has not suffered from well publicised austerity cuts; Philip Harper asking a great deal of the 2019 band with a programme inspired by the natural elements as well as the 50th anniversary of the first Apollo Moon landings.

Dulux paint

They responded with enthusiasm, endeavour and excellence; the opening ‘Elemental’ a bold statement of intent carried through into a colourful, if occasionally wayward rendition of ‘Spectrum’ – half a century old yet still as fresh as a lick of Dulux paint on an old magnolia living room wall.

‘Fireball XL5’, Bach’s famous ‘Air from the Suite in D’ and the mock Irish theme-pub whimsy of ‘Riverdance’ may have stretched the tenuous thematic link somewhat, but a bravura second half rendition of ‘Music of the Spheres’ was admirably focussed in every sense; a fine reading from the MD allied to excellent solo and ensemble contributions. It was a performance ingrained with confidence; vibrant yet assured. 

Sheona White was the superb featured soloist; displaying cultured musicianship on the surprisingly reserved Bourgeois ‘Horn Concerto’ and Golland’s tender ‘Ballade’ in the first half, as well as the touching homage to the easy listening genius of Karen Carpenter with ‘Sunday in the Park’ and waspish fun of ’The Piper of Dundee’ in the second.

a bravura second half rendition of ‘Music of the Spheres’ was admirably focussed in every sense; a fine reading from the MD allied to excellent solo and ensemble contributions. It was a performance ingrained with confidence; vibrant yet assured. 

Proactive

The success of a proactive ‘Sit in & Play’ initiative (which was repeated on the other concerts in Beaumaris and Aberystwyth on the weekend) saw over a dozen youngsters from various local bands, who will hopefully be sitting in the ranks in the next few years, deliver a warm hearted ‘Let it Go!’ from ‘Frozen’. 

They will surely have taken inspiration from the annual awards winners Osian Maloney, Bethan Cook, Owain Llestyn, Sarah Llewellyn, Alex Linton and Peter McDonough, who along with their colleagues performed with impressive maturity from start to finish.   

A high voltage ‘Thunder & Lightning’ polka left everyone in a packed hall at the RWCM in Cardiff energised by a thoroughly entertaining evening.

Iwan Fox   

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