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Stars of the Future

Cornish Youth wow a packed house with the help of Roger Webster


The resurgent Cornwall Youth Brass Band played to a packed house at Cornwall County Hall on Tuesday 30th December in a concert which featured Black Dyke’s star principal cornet, Roger Webster.

The concert was performed at the conclusion of the Xmas Course which was directed by guest Conductor, and renowned Cornishman John Berryman. The capacity audience included the Band’s President and Musical Advisor Micky Hunt and Dr Goff Richards. The concert was a concise one, but wasn’t short on either serious works or difficult ones. The CYBB’s senior tutor is David Loukes, a man blessed with a most keen ear for audience tastes, and this explained the programme, which ranged from traditional fare such as the March Wellington, the Elegy from A Downland Suite, Vinter’s seldom heard Entertainments and more contemporary pieces such as Ray Farr’s version of Riverdance

Roger Webster, in a guest appearance organised by Besson Musical instruments, staged a masterclass in the afternoon and graced the stage in the evening to perform four solos — five if you include a cheeky but not entirely unexpected encore — to rapturous acclaim, and it is easy to see why he is so highly thought of. His production and effortless projection would have been an immense inspiration to the young people in the band. His contributions included Mark Freeh’s arrangement of the ubiquitous Carnival of Venice and Adrian Drover’s setting of Aye Waukin O.

The accompaniment from the CYBB was at times delicate and sensitive, and in the case of the Freeh arrangement, boisterous and enthusiastic. The Band’s chairman, Leonard Adams, who has been involved with the CYBB as a player and conductor and now finds himself in the administrative side, offered his and the committee’s thanks to all involved, as well as a few thoughts about the ever-improving band. He remarked that as the CYBB is the oldest County Youth Band in the country he was glad to see it retaining the high standards set in generations past. The current crop are “stars of the future”, and that with such players — and it is unfair to pick out individuals — the CYBB is in safe hands.

Given the tremendous amount of work undertaken by the Band over the course of the previous two days, it is impressive indeed that they managed to play the concert at all, let alone with a lightness of touch and nuance that belied their years. The only slightly sore point was the lack of Tubas and Tenor Horns. A recent low brass initiative is being promoted heavily in Cornwall by Shaun Thomas of the Cornwall Music Service, so hopefully the band will see the results of his work in time..

The concert was comperéd by Phillip Hunt, who did his superlative job as usual, mixing a genial humour with a mountain of facts and information.. At the conclusion of the concert, chairman Leonard Adams paid particular tribute to the caterers who had done magnificently in feeding such a group, the Treasurer Kathryn Hill for all her hard work, the committee and to the tutors who had given their time so generously at Christmas. In keeping with the festive spirit, a feast of brass band music, performed by the Cornish stars in the making.

With thanks to Simon Phillips

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