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A bass trombone prize winner!

12 year old Sion Minshall wins prestigious Liz Rorison award.


Christmas came early this year for Simon Minshall! The young 12 year old Bass Trombone player from Astley Youth Band travelled to London to play with the National Children’s Orchestra at their Christmas Weekend Course and Concert on Sunday 21st December at Queen Elizabeth Hall on London’s South Bank. He had the shock of his life when it was announced that he was the winner of the orchestra’s prestigious Liz Rorison Prize!

Liz Rorison is one of the National Children’s Orchestra’s most staunch supporters, and a member of the Board of Governors of the orchestra, and has attended all the Christmas Concerts for many years. There are clear criteria for the award. “Firstly, the recipient must have made a significant contribution musically and in all full and sectional rehearsals. Care and consideration for others, and making newcomers welcome are also important, as is active participation in all National Children’s Orchestra activities. The music and social staff are welcome to make nominations but the decision rests entirely with the Director of Music, Roger Clarkson”

Simon lives in Astley, and studies Bass Trombone with Les Storey and Kevin Price at Chetham’s School of Music in Manchester. He has been a member of Astley Youth Band since the age of 5. He also plays Euphonium which he studies with Bill Miller, and he recently passed his Grade 6 exam with Distinction. He has been a member of the National Children’s Orchestra throughout 2003, and has attended courses in Wellington, Somerset at Easter, Ackworth, Yorkshire in August, and has played at the National Children’s Orchestra’s 25th Anniversary Concert at Symphony Hall, Birmingham on 31st August.

He has thoroughly enjoyed his year in the orchestra, and has recently been delighted to hear that he has passed his audition to stay in the orchestra for 2004, when he will take part in courses and concerts at Victoria Hall, Stoke on Trent, York University, and return to London’s Queen Elizabeth Hall on Sunday 19th December, 2004. Simon also hopes to play in the National Children’s Brass Band next year.

This good news comes just in time for the celebrations of the 10th Anniversary of Astley Youth Band. The band will celebrate its 10th birthday with a Grand Reunion at Formby Hall, Atherton, on Saturday 3rd January. The band was formed by Helen and Stephen Minshall in January 1994 to cater for children in the local area. More than 250 players have passed through the doors of the band — 85 are current members of the Training Band (7-12yrs approx) and the Senior Band (10-18yrs approx). Many of the former members are now playing in some of the region's top bands.

The band's 10th Anniversary celebrations will continue with a 10th Anniversary Concert Tour to Alpe d'Huez in July 2004, when they will play for the supporters of the famous cycle race — Le Tour de France!


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Martin Heartfield

Conductor, Adjudicator, Educationalist