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National Youth Brass Band of Great Britain & His Majesty's Royal Marines Collingwood

Conductors: Dr Stephen Cobb & Capt Sam Hairsine
The Ruddock Performing Arts Centre
Edgbaston
Saturday 15th April


It is not just the uplifting sense of inclusion that has underpinned the musical spirit of the National Youth Brass Band of Great Britain in recent years. Collaboration has also played a key role; the partnership with His Majesty’s Royal Marines Collingwood proving to be as inspirational as it has successful.

This engaging concert in the splendid 450 seat auditorium tucked away in the grounds of King Edward’s private school in the leafy suburbs of Edgbaston in Birmingham, showed that in full. 

At over £5,000 a term, inclusion for pupils here sees participation in symphony, concert, string, swing and wind orchestras, as well as choirs, guitar and ‘garageband’ ensembles. No brass bands yet on the curriculum, but after this event they may want to find out more about the benefits.

The MDs had picked a complementary programme, with reprises of some of the youth band’s recent excellent appearance at Stoller Hall set against the Marine’s polished professionalism and some cleverly realised joint items.

Classy rendition

The Marines Fanfare Team and Corps of Drums set the standard with a ringing ‘Olympic Fanfare’  – the level maintained with Stephen Cobb leading the youth band through a first half of Kenneth Downie’s ‘Sunset over the River Exe’,  Paul Sharman’s ‘Fuego’  and three movements from Karl Jenkins’ ‘Stabat Mater’  suite. 

The MDs had picked a complementary programme, with reprises of some of the youth band’s recent excellent appearance at Stoller Hall set against the Marine’s polished professionalism and some cleverly realised joint items.

The fun of ‘Buglers Holiday’  (with a trio of Marines in the solo roles) did come with the now traditional ‘blob’ second intro entry (an in-tune triad though) to raise a smile on faces, although seriousness was quicky re-established with a classy rendition of Peter Graham’s ‘Renaissance’ to close.

Tradition from the Marines came with the stirring sounds of their march medley (with precision drummers) and the heroic span of Philip Sparke’s ‘Invictus’,  set against Paul Saggers’ 'Vivaldi's Mission to Saturn on a Dog named Bongo’.  

A seriously written touch of ‘Red Priest meets Frank Zappa on a space ride with Wallace & Gromit’, it just cried out for an accompanying narration rather than introduction to have really worked a treat. 

Informed appreciation

Phoebe Mallinson’s rendition of the languid, bluesy central section of the William Himes ‘Concertino for Flugel Horn’  (without music) was that and more in a performance of mature, informed appreciation. With former principal cornet Tom Nielsen, the latest NYBBGB alumni to now hold a leading role in a UK orchestra, her musical future holds remarkable potential. 

The massed items of a touchingly shaped ‘Prelude on Lavenham’,  full bore funky pulse ‘Andromeda’  and Irish theme pub music encore (complete with fiddlers and penny whistle) brought things to an energised close.

Iwan Fox  

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