The National Youth Brass Band of Great Britain has announced the six finalists who will take part in its inaugural Conductor Competition.
Supported by the Garfield Weston Foundation it provides the opportunity for emerging conducting talent to make an impact on the brass band and wider musical sector.
The six finalists were chosen from 28 international entrants and will now work directly with the National Youth Band of Great Britain in an assessment process led by Martyn Brabbins, Musical Director of English National Opera, Dr Robert Childs and Captain Sam Hairsine RM.
The repertoire will include the traditional brass band marches 'Mephistopheles', 'Knight Templar' and 'The Cossack', with the trio of selected finalists working on a choice of Eric Ball's 'Resurgam', 'Music for a Festival' by Phillip Sparke and 'Shine as the Light' by Peter Graham.
Speaking about the process, Martyn Brabbins told 4BR: "The prospect of encountering a new generation of conductors is always exciting. The competition attracted a plethora of conducting talent, and I look forward to engaging with the six finalists in January.
My aim is to create a collaborative and creative atmosphere in order that all involved have a positive musical experience."
The finalists are:
24-year-old Anna Berrisford, who is currently studying orchestral and choral conducting at the Royal Northern College of Music. A freelance conductor for the Northern Film Orchestra, Abney Orchestra, Opera Viva, Anna regularly assists conductors at the BBC Philharmonic and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic orchestra.
27-year-old Chris Binns is the principal trombone of Grimethorpe Colliery Band. Studying conducting in his fourth year at the Royal Northern College of Music, he has conducted several bands and recently led Hebden Bridge to the Second Section National Championship of Great Britain title.
Leon Franzten hails from the Netherlands. The 23-year-old currently studies conducting at the Royal Northern College of Music. Leon held the role of assistant conductor of the Youth Orchestra of The Netherlands and has also been chief conductor of the Koninklijke Fanfare St. Dionysius Opoeteren and the Harmonie St. Antonius Lomm.
27-year-old Derrick Morgan recently graduated with a Masters in Conducting from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and was the recipient of the Hugh S Robertson Prize for Orchestral Conducting.
He has conducted the Edinburgh Symphony Orchestra and given the fringe premiere of two mini operas with Edinburgh Studio Opera. He has conducted Ensemble Alba and organised a performance of Mendelssohn's Second Symphony with the Edinburgh Practice Choir.
Enyi Okpara is a law graduate and currently studies conducting at the Royal Academy of Music. The 22-year-old has conducted the Bristol University Symphonia and the Bristol University Chamber Orchestra and is the founder of the North London Orchestra.
In 2021, Enyi was awarded a Young Conducting Scholarship with Sing for Pleasure, conducting workshops and masterclasses in London, Cambridge and Manchester.
26-year-old Lewis Wilkinson studied conducting at the Royal Welsh College of Music &and Drama and was resident conductor of Filton Concert Brass, with which he won the Welsh Open.
Lewis gained a place in the semi-final of the 2020 European Conductor's Competition which unfortunately was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He is a busy guest conductor with bands at all levels, such as Elland Silver, Easington Colliery, Llwydcoed, NASUWT Riverside and Solna (Sweden). He is currently Director of Music for Fishburn Band.
The competition attracted a plethora of conducting talent, and I look forward to engaging with the six finalists in JanuaryMartyn Brabbins
Speaking about the response to the event, NYBBGB CEO, Mark Bromley, commented "The response went beyond our expectations. I would like to thank everyone who made the effort to submit an entry.
Whatever the outcome, the passion of each of our six finalists for brass banding is clear and that alone fills me with hope for the next generation of music leaders. If you are free please do come and support our finalists in January. It's going to be so inspiring."
The National Youth Brass Band of Great Britain has also thanked the Garfield Weston Foundation for their support and everyone who has taken part in the competition and has offered its congratulations to those been selected to take part in the final rounds.
Dr Robert Childs stated: "The submissions were really good and I was looking for good beat fluidity, musical phrasing and hand independence.
The six going through to the finals also demonstrated a solid understanding of the peculiarities of the brass band score, a good knowledge of the brass band movement and excitement at the prospect of working with the NYBBGB and Martyn Brabbins."