Radio 2 Young Brass Soloist Final:
The Brown Shipley Hall, Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester
Saturday 14th February
Richard Kidd, Andrew King, Katrina Marzella and Thomas
Accompanied by Black Dyke Band, Dr Nicholas Childs
Presented by Frank Renton
It was perhaps already destined
in the stars that the first recipient of the BBC’s Young
Brass Soloist of the Year would be of Scottish origin. The prize
for the winner is to be the guest soloist at the European Brass
Band Championships in Glasgow on May 1st.
Three of the four finalists as it turned out had Scottish connections, so the
chances were always going to be high, and in the end, the competition was won
by the newly crowned Scottish Youth and Senior Brass Champion, Katrina Marzella,
the superbly talented baritone player from Whitburn Band.
The brain child of the competition came from LTTB’s producer,
Al Booth, and her efforts were rewarded with a good number of
entries from its inception last Summer, with eight semi finalists
doing battle in January and everything coming down to this final
The packed hall was given an absolute treat with these superb finalists, who
each played with great maturity in a closely contested final, which had some
magnificent playing on show - but judges Rod Ranks and Alison Balsom were in
no doubt that Katrina was the worthy winner.
Trombonist Andrew King will consider himself a touch unlucky
not to have added the title to his two British Open Solo & Ern Keller awards. Andrew chose
the first and third movements of Lars-Erik Larson’s "Concertino
for Trombone" for his challenge for the title, and performed superbly.
It was easy to identify very quickly why this man is such a quality player.
A great tone, good ear, and real understanding of the music being performed,
the young man was very relaxed, and if he was nervous, it did not show.
The music came alive, and such was the maturity of the performance,
you forgot that despite having played for Marple and Leyland,
he is still a young man, and yet it seems he has been around
the banding scene a lot longer. Celebrating his 20th birthday
the day after the final, it was only Katrina’s fantastic
performance that stopped him taking the title.
Trumpet player, Thomas Osborne is currently studying at the RNCM
in Manchester. The former Faireys player chose Edward Gregson’s "Prelude and Caprice" for
his tilt at the title. The only non brass band instrumentalist in the final,
this was yet another player of great maturity, and someone you could listen
to all night. As with Andrew King, Thomas was cool, calm and collective, and
enjoyed every minute of the chance of playing in front of a large audience,
and being accompanied by Black Dyke. Thomas produced a bright, but controlled
sound, and made his trumpet quite literally sing. Whatever this young man does,
he certainly has a bright future, and like Andrew King, and the other finalist,
Richard Kidd, will wonder what might have been on another day.
Euphonium player, Richard Kidd, chose "Zeibekikos" from Philip Wilby’s "Euphonium
Concerto" and a shortened version of "Pantomine" by Philip Sparke
as his offerings. Looking dapper in kilt, the young man, clearly had a lot
of fun in the euphonium concerto. Composed for Robert Childs, "Zeibekikos" is
not easy. The music is fast and furious, and only the bravest players would
play it. Richard brought plenty of life into the music and communicated well
with the audience. The shortened version of Sparke’s "Pantomine" produced
a lovely sound from the Scotsman, and although his performance overall was
not glitch free, he certainly seemed at ease, and on the outside, happy with
And so to Katrina Marzella. Following Andrew King on stage, the
newly crowned Scottish Youth & Senior Brass Champion, gave
members of Whitburn Band who had come to Manchester to support
her, the perfect leaving present. Katrina is currently studying
law at Glasgow University and was leaving for Australia the day
after the competition as part of a university exchange programme.
Judges Rod Franks and Alison Balsom had no hesitation in awarding
her the title. At the end of the competition, Rod and Alison
told everybody assembled that the winner was chosen, due to her
sound, sense of flair and the ability to communicate with the
audience. This is something the twenty-year-old did in abundance.
From the moment she commenced her programme with "Sun" by
Bruce Fraser, Katrina captivated the audience with her playing, and how much
enjoyment she was having. The music written by Bruce Fraser has plenty of African
style rhythms within it, and it kept the music alive as well as entertaining.
Katrina certainly has a lovely tone, and having been crowned
Scottish Schools Champion for five years in a row, is totally
at ease when performing in public. In total contrast to ‘Sun’, Katrina closed her challenge with music
from the pen of John Golland. ‘Peace’ is originally music for organ,
but was arranged for euphonium for Faireys, and was the real moment of the
instrumental solo final for this reviewer. The Whitburn player displayed her
wonderful tone, and the slow, reflective piece of music demonstrated why this
young lady is making a name for herself in the world of banding at the moment.
Anyone present in Glasgow in May where Katrina will be accompanied by a band
she graced so well, (The National Youth Brass Band of Scotland) is in for a
real treat. In addition, so is the Brisbane Excelsior Band and conductor Howard
Taylor whom Katrina will play with whilst on her exchange programme.
Whilst the judges were making their decision, Black Dyke who
had accompanied the soloists superbly all night, entertained
the audience in a short programme. The band has just returned
from a successful tour of Philadelphia and Bermuda and showed
no signs of jet lag with a tribute to The Beatles in "Lady
Madonna" and "The Cossack Wedding Dance" from "Call of
the Cossacks". Flugel player, John Doyle performed a memorable rendition
of "Children of Sanchez" before Dyke wrapped everything up with a
lightening performance of Finale from Tchaikovsky’s "Symphony Number
The night though belonged to Katrina Marzella and the smile on her face as
she was presented with the trophy by Peter Fraser MBE will probably still be
present when she arrives in Australia. Shocked at winning, the young lady certainly
has a bright future in banding, and perhaps Whitburn conductor, Andrew Duncan
might have a composition up his sleeve to commerate her achievements and showcase
her versatility. One thing for sure, the BBC will be promoting the young lady
at every opportunity they get over the next year.
Congratulations to all the finalists and to Al Booth, who came up with the
idea and no doubt this event will be repeated next year. Highlights of the
semi-finals are broadcast on BBC Radio 2 (www.bbc.co.uk/radio2) on Friday 20th/27th
February, with the final being broadcast on Friday March 5th.
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