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National Youth Brass Band of Scotland Children's Band

Conductors: Alan Fernie and Mark Bell
Perth Concert Hall
Saturday 5th August


Look back at your formative musical experiences: How did it all begin? 

Hopefully you were as fortunate as one of the 61-strong NYBBS Children’s Band, which rounded off its 2023 summer course with this cracking afternoon concert.

Energy

The enthused energy generated in the ‘Starlight’  opener was matched only by that of its musical director and composer, Alan Fernie, who guided his young charges (only 17 of whom had been in the band last year) through a challenging programme.

Neat contributions from Lewis Smith (horn), Isla Gillespie (cornet) and James Barr (euphonium) illuminated the evocative percussion colours, in ‘The Gift of a Thistle’,  from ‘Braveheart’. 

The substantive focal point came with Christopher Bond’s cleverly realised ‘Neverland’,  with the players absorbed by the contrasting movements inspired by J.M. Barrie’s tales of Peter Pan. The testing challenges were played with assuredness, helped greatly by Alan’s swashbuckling musical Captain Hook in the midst of it all.

The testing challenges were played with assuredness, helped greatly by Alan’s swashbuckling musical Captain Hook in the midst of it all.

Guided by tutor Iona Robinson, the percussion section excelled in Ozzy Osborne’s ‘Crazy Train’,  with the tuned sounds that rang around the auditorium underpinned by a fantastic, unrelenting drum kit.

Immediate encore

Trombone tutor Mark Bell led ‘The Mickey Mouse March’,  which flew along with a hearty upbeat swagger - so much so that the audience demanded an immediate encore. 

After the jollity, a moment of reflection with music from the film ‘Jurassic Park’,  played with warmth and balance. A return to Disney and a romp through a selection box of familiar themes acted as a prelude to the aptly titled ‘When I Grow Up’,  from ‘Matilda’,  arranged by Philip Harper.

It brought down the curtain on a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon of music making, which capped off a week to remember at Strathallan School for the youngsters. 

Judging by their smiles as they filed off stage, they didn’t want it to end. The banding bug of their formative years had been well and truly caught.

Mark Good

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