National Youth Brass Band of Scotland Reserve Band & Senior Band

Conductors: Ian Porthouse, John Boax, Chris Shanks, Charlie Farren
Perth Concert Hall
Saturday 5th August

The National Youth Brass Band of Scotland has enjoyed a considerable rejuvenation in its fortunes in recent years. As with the Children’s Band earlier in the afternoon, both the Reserve and Senior Bands can now field around 60 talented players apiece. 

Due to its appearance at the Edinburgh International Festival, the Reserve Band was delayed in making its way back to Perth, with the NYBBS Principal Ensemble led by tuba tutor Les Neish, ably stepping in to keep the audience entertained.

Adrenaline kick

Understandably somewhat fatigued, the Reserve Band took a little while for the performance adrenaline to kick in, but when it ‘Olympic Fanfare and Theme’  soon cranked up to speed.

It was followed by ‘Breezin’ Down Broadway’,  full of vim and vigour, before flugel lead Cara McFadzean demonstrated an endearing tonal purity in ‘My Ain Folk’.

There was refinement in ‘Calling Cornwall’  as Chris Shanks guiding the ensemble through every twist and turn, before ‘How to train your Dragon’  and ‘African Funk’  brought the Reserve set to an energetic close.

Trombone tutor Charlie Farren led the heated ‘Summon the Dragon’,  before Philip Sparke’s tranquil ‘Sanctuary’  followed, where cornet player Andrew Dixon showcased an elegant, mature musicality.

There was refinement in ‘Calling Cornwall’  as Chris Shanks guiding the ensemble through every twist and turn, before ‘How to train your Dragon’  and ‘African Funk’  brought the Reserve set to an energetic close.


The impressive Senior Band began with cornets at either side of the stage for Paul Lovatt-Cooper’s ‘Horizons’,  with Angus Ritchie (euphonium) and principal cornet Pearson Hood nailing their contributions with aplomb. 

A lovely video tribute from NYBBS tutor, Sheona White, to her former teacher, John Boax ahead of his Mortimer Medal presentation at the British Open in September gave a breather, before Ian Porthouse drew on Tredegar’s 2021 ‘Jekyll and Hyde’  Brass in Concert programme for a fevered ‘Erl Konig’  and ‘Do you take this Monster as your loving husband’,  played with classy tenor horn artistry by Andrew McMillan.

Ian Porthouse drew on Tredegar’s 2021 ‘Jekyll and Hyde’  Brass in Concert programme for a fevered ‘Erl Konig’  and ‘Do you take this Monster as your loving husband’,  played with classy tenor horn artistry by Andrew McMillan.

‘The Devil in I’  inspired by the American heavy metal rockers Slipknot was a great tongue in cheek ‘horror show’ (complete with video accompaniment) with percussionist Scott Crumlish relishing the opportunity to let loose, before ‘A New Life’  detoured into romance and reflection.

Lasting legacy

The world premiere of Alan Fernie’s ‘Organum’  was a real highlight – crafted with so much appreciation of balance, warmth and transparency and played with mature solo and ensemble quality.  It is a work that deserves a long and lasting legacy. 

His ’Starlings’  was a plaintive counterpoint to link into a rousing ‘Glorifico Aeternum’  finale and a touching massed band encore tribute to Richard Evans in ‘Thanks Boss’  to end a week of challenges and new opportunities met in full by a band fully reaping the benefits of its investment in its musical talent. 

Mark Good

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