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National Youth Brass Band of Wales

Conductor: Ian Porthouse
Soloist: Dewi Griffiths
St Asaph Cathedral
Saturday 16th September

This fine concert given by the National Youth Band of Wales under organisational auspices of the Ty Cerdd organisation which has looked after its welfare for the past quarter of a century, also posed searching questions about its future.  

A repeat of the substantive programme that was delivered with considerable style and authority at Porthcawl’s Grand Pavilion in July once again showed that there is an abundance of talent being nurtured in all corners of the nation. 

Built on

However, how that is now both protected and developed in the years to come through the newly formed Youth Arts Wales, is somewhat unclear at present, espeically in times of austerity funding for many arts related organisations. Getting to open a high profile festival such as this is no mean feat - and should be built on.  

The new body should act quickly to engage the services of a proud Band President, Edward Gregson (who made the trip to hear the band perform) to give artistic leadership in regards to repertoire - and to further enhance the encouraging developments that have been made by Ty Cerdd to engage new writers for the medium.  

Elegant treat

Hearing Rhian Samuel’s febrile ‘Taliesin’ once more was an elegant treat, whilst Gregon’s own, wonderfully elegiac ‘Cornet Concerto’ was given a performance of outstanding musical shaping by Dewi Griffiths.  

Hearing Rhian Samuel’s febrile ‘Taliesin’ once more was an elegant treat, whilst Gregon’s own, wonderfully elegiac ‘Cornet Concerto’ was given a performance of outstanding musical shaping by Dewi Griffiths.

Ian Porthouse conducted throughout with precision as well as nuance, allowing his young players to shine on the diverse, stylistically demanding repertoire - from the orchestral boldness of ‘Fanfare for the Common Man’ to the duality of conflict and spirituality shown in Eric Ball’s classic work, ‘Journey into Freedom’.

Showcase of talents

Fine individual contributions were on show throughout – from soprano to tuba, and especially with a percussion section that brought rhythmic structure and texture to bear without displacing the balance of the band in a lively acoustic. These were players reveling in the opportunity to showcase their talents.  

Gavin Higgins’ complex ‘Fanfare & Love Songs’, was played with consummate facility, whilst a neatly delivered ‘Vivat Regina’ (William Matthias is buried in the cathedral grounds) led to the finale of the allegorical delights of Philip Wilby’s beautifully crafted ‘The Pilgrim’s Progress’.

It was a fine way to close one musical chapter and to hopefully open another for a band that has for over 35 years has provided Wales with a beacon of musical excellence. 
Peter Wright 

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