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Greater Gwent Youth Bands & Tredegar Band

Conductors: Ian Porthouse & Lara Tingay
Guest Soloist: Gareth Small
Ebbw Vale Leisure Centre
Saturday 6th January

The provision of a well funded peripatetic and support music service was for over half a century one of the shining examples of good local authority governance in the south Wales valleys. 

Concerts such as these were readily supported by blinged-up ‘Goldy Looking Chain’ councillors with false smiles and vote-seeking handshakes.  

Pygmy politicians

Until a few years ago it was perhaps without equal in the UK; the results of which produced generations of youngsters who benefitted hugely from playing musical instruments in local schools and community bands. 

Not surprisingly the pygmy politicians no longer show their faces.

However, despite the financial scythe of austerity cutting ‘non-essential’ services to stubble, a palpable sense of communal pride and indefatigable determination has enabled the Greater Gwent Youth Band (and its sibling Intermediate Band) to continue to provide an outstanding service to youngsters throughout its remit area.  

That was certainly shown here with the latest generation (which contained numerous offspring of former members in its ranks) providing ample evidence that emerging talent is still being nurtured through enjoyment, enthusiasm and endeavour.  

However, despite the financial scythe of austerity cutting ‘non-essential’ services to stubble, a palpable sense of communal pride and indefatigable determination has enabled the Greater Gwent Youth Band (and its sibling Intermediate Band) to continue to provide an outstanding service to youngsters throughout its remit area.  

Sparkling brilliance

Led by Ian Porthouse and featuring the sparkling brilliance of Halle Orchestra principal trumpet Gareth Small (also a product of a well funded approach in West Wales), it was a cracking concert that even in times of severe financial constraints generously supported the Brass for Africa Charity.

Well chosen repertoire (‘All Night Long’ to ‘Fire & Flame’ via ‘Pie Jesu’, ‘A Time for Us’ and ‘Duelling Xylos’ featuring soloists in Maya Ross, Elliott King, Alex Evans and Robert Bull) showcased the progress made in the four days of the course, whilst the inclusion of the Intermediate Band led by Lara Tingay was an added joy.

12 bore

Tredegar Band dusted off any post Xmas lethargy with 12-bore whip-throughs of their recent concert fizz bombs, whilst Gareth Small gave a masterclass in the art of style - from hot ‘Flamenco’ to the stunningly beautiful, 'He wishes for the cloths of Heaven' written by Karl Jenkins, arranged by Gareth’s father Tony and inspired by the poem of WB Yeats.

By the time we came to a bit of massed band ‘Star Wars’, ‘McArthur Park’ and ‘African Funk’, a super concert left a thoroughly entertained audience brimming with a communal pride the results of financial austerity can never destroy however hard its excusers and implementers try.

Iwan Fox



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