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2013 National Youth Championships of Great Britain — Retrospective

Malcolm Wood looks back on the National Youth Championships — where a gold medal was fully deserved for Brass Bands England as well as well as for the very best competitors.

National Youth winners
Everyone's a winner...

‘The problem with the youth of today...’ is a phrase that apparently gets on the wick of adjudicator, Sarah Groake-Booth.

Not surprising really, after she revealed that she had enjoyed such a wonderful day at the National Youth Championships at Manchester’s RNCM. 

Her overriding impression was simply that; “There's no problem with the youth of today: You lot are fantastic.”

Impossible

Perhaps it was a bit of a sweeping statement, but you would have found it nigh on impossible to find anyone who would have disagreed with her.

The headlines will of course go to the 42 bands, the players, conductors, helpers and supporters that made it such an enjoyable occasion, but plaudits should also be given to Brass Bands England, who now organise the event with considerable care, foresight and expertise. 

Real success

These Championships are a real BBE success story.

Dedication, ambition and enjoyment oozed out of every note played by the young players in each of the four sections – the result of which was hour upon hour of high quality music making that showcased excellence in abundance.

The highlights came thick and fast: From the startling nine year old cornet soloist, Ela Haf Williams from Ysgol Bontnewydd Primary in the Beginners Section, to the trio of Gold Award ensemble performances from Gwynedd, Carnoustie and Greater Gwent in the Championship event.

Other star performers, such as ‘Best Instrumentalist’ winners Michael Cavanagh and Calum Tonner from Stockport Schools and Carnoustie respectively, also showed that the banding movement is currently blessed with plenty of exceptional playing talent.

Special mention

A special mention must also go to the MDs too - all of whom directed their charges with encouragement and determination. Long gone are the days of grim-faced contest endeavour: The new breed of conductors really are an inspirational lot.    

The BBE Music Panel also deserves a massive pat on the back for coming up with two cracking set work choices; pieces that asked demanding, yet achievable questions of developing players.

Timeless

Denis Wright's 'Tintagel' and Philip Sparke's 'The Prizewinners' came from opposite ends of the historical spectrum, although both gave ample opportunity to explore the timeless qualities of lyrical musicality and rhythmic precision.

They certainly sorted the bands out good and proper, yet neither piece was beyond any competitor’s grasp.

With the organisers also insisting on adherence to traditional brass band virtues in the Beginners and Junior Sections, it meant that there was also an opportunity for the excellent selection panel of judges to compare and contrast thanks to the well chosen own choice repertoire.

Gold medals

The result of which meant that all the competitions were closely contested, allowing the adjudicators to give a much more considered reflection of the standard of playing on show with their awards: Gold’s were hard earned and thoroughly deserved.

Brass Bands England deserves a shiny gold medal too.

Their outstanding organisation of a long and complex day ran like clockwork, thanks to the army of volunteers that worked smoothly under the watchful eyes of Arnold Tattersfield and Gary Walczak, whilst Sally Coleman (RNCM Concert Hall) and Dave Hayward (RNCM Theatre) were excellent comperes.

Problem

The only problem for BBE is that as it stands, there is no confirmed date for 2014 due to the proposed renovation of the RNCM.

It will be hard to find somewhere that can offer such a compact, yet accessible venue, although 4BR was informed that the process is already under way.

You can only hope it can offer another day as splendid as this.

Malcolm Wood



Black Dyke Band - St Wilfrid's Church, Harrogate

Saturday 1 September • Duchy Rd, Harrogate HG1 2EY


The Fairey Band - Pre-British Open concert

Sunday 2 September • Glossop Bandroom. Derby St, Glossop SK13 8LP SK13 8LP


Contest: 166th British Open

Saturday 8 September • Broad Street, Birmingham. B1 2EA


Black Dyke Band - Brass on Sunday Gala Concert, Birmingham

Sunday 9 September • Broad St, Birmingham B1 2EA


St Pinnock Brass Band - SCRYFA & Minack in "The Third Light"

Monday 10 September • The Minack Theatre, Porthcurno, Penzance,. Cornwall TR19 6JU


wantage silver band

August 21 • Oxfordshire based (L&SC 2nd Section), Wantage Concert Brass are looking to recruit a new principal cornet. They have a busy schedule of diverse engagements and contests and is keen to secure an ambitious player to lead the cornet section.


Matlock Band

August 21 • Matlock Band (4th section 2019) Has vacancies for brass and percussion players. Under our new Musical Director Chris Banks, we are re-building the band to hit the ground running in 2019. Key positions available include Soprano Cornet and Flugel.


Shirebrook Miners Welfare Band

August 20 • Shirebrook Band (1st section) under our new MD Jim Henson are currently seeking a Bb Bass and 2nd Baritone. Join the Shirebrook Team with our successful concerts and rewarding contest appearances.


Chris Wormald

B.Mus (Hons), LTCL, PGCE
Conductor, adjudicator, arranger