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Gwent Youth Brass Band

60th Anniversary Concert
Conductors: Chris Turner, Sean O'Neill, Gareth Ritter, Alun F Williams, Lana Tingay, Dr Robert Childs
Soloists: Dr Robert Childs & David Childs
Compere: David Hayward
Rougemont School
Malpas
Saturday 4th January

Gwent Youth

‘As Alive as Ever’, was the specially commissioned opening fanfare that neatly encapsulated six decades of musical endeavour and commitment. 

60 years in which an enlightened education policy of free peripatetic music tuition has variously been generously supported, bureaucratically challenged or myopically denuded by local politicians faced by a financial balancing act in an area of south-Wales that lays claim to some of the poorest communities in the UK.

It remains a remarkable success story. 

Past, present and future

Past, present and future came together; the current Youth Band joined by 51 players of the Intermediate Band (a beginner ensemble of youngsters who have taken up playing in the past year or so), and an Alumni Band consisting of performers of variously matured vintages - some going back to the very first course in 1960 (including the excellent compere).

The current ensemble led by Chris Turner (who has led a vigorous musical renaissance against the financial odds in recent years) provided the first third; that bold fanfare by local composer Daniel Bickerton leading into well-presented accounts of ‘Starburst’, ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’, ‘Little Prayer’, and the second of his engaging works, ‘Breaker of Stones’, which combined a melancholic minor keyed Methodist darkness with the uplifting hywl of the miner’s hymn tune ‘Llef’

The bubbling enthusiasm of the Intermediate Band was a joyful delight as they showcased music from the Proclaimers to Tom Jones with a dash of ‘Wallace and Gromit’, whilst the Alumni Band enjoyed dusting off old favourites such as ‘Castell Coch’, ‘Sospan Fach’ and ‘All though the Night’, before having just enough lip stamina left for a rousing finale from ‘Fire in the Blood’.

Bubbling

The bubbling enthusiasm of the Intermediate Band was a joyful delight as they showcased music from the Proclaimers to Tom Jones with a dash of ‘Wallace and Gromit’, whilst the Alumni Band enjoyed dusting off old favourites such as ‘Castell Coch’, ‘Sospan Fach’ and ‘All though the Night’, before having just enough lip stamina left for a rousing finale from ‘Fire in the Blood’.

Dr Robert Childs (a member of the band in the early 1970s) also enjoyed returning to some old euphonium favourites as he performed ‘Nessun Dorma’ and a warp speed ‘Grandfather’s Clock’ before being joined by his son to keep the older generation transfixed with ‘Softly As I Leave You’ and ‘Brillante’.  

The all-inclusive finale of ‘Procession to the Minster’ (with the youngest members giving it their all in the closing bars) was also the most vibrant of reminders that this outstanding organisation continues to provide a priceless gateway to a lifetime’s enjoyment of music making.

And any politician should keep that in mind in the years to come.
 
Iwan Fox 

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