PUSHING BOUNDARIES - How Les Neish is making a successful career of tuba playing

Issue 6011

ON THE BEAT - Gavin Pritchard emphasises the importance of preparation

FRANKLY SPEAKING - Frank Renton discusses the role of conductors


The Brass In Concert Youth Championships Live Comments

Friday 16 November, 2018


Anne Crookston reporting from Sage, Gateshead and the first Youth Brass in Concert Championships.



Wardle Academy Youth     198 points
Elland Silver Youth     197 points
Rochdale Borough Youth    190 points
Youth Brass 2000     185 points
Houghton Area Youth      180 points
Best entertainment: Elland Silver Youth

Best soloist: Adam Hofland-Ward; Elland Silver Youth


Youth Brass in Concert Championship

The competing bands this afternoon:

1 Houghton Area Youth    Brian Adams

2 Youth Brass 2000   Chris Jeans

3 Rochdale Borough Youth  Ben Dixon

4 Elland Silver Youth   Samantha Harrison

5 Wardle Academy Youth   Lee Rigg


Our adjudicators this afternoon are in place - judging the quality of performance is veteran and BiC legend Richard Evens, and for entertainment and presentation we have Helen Harrelson.

Take your seats, hold on to your hats .... we're about to get underway!!



BB predictions:

1. Elland Silver Youth

2. Wardle Academy Youth

3. Youth Brass 2000

4. Rochdale Borough Youth

5. Houghton Area Youth


What a fantastic, inaugural BiC Youth Championship contest. Every band had something unique and wonderful to offer, with playing of the highest calibre, and thought-provoking programming and choreography that would put many of their senior colleague to shame. You really should goalong and hear these young people - wherever they perform. The results should be up in about an hour's time. 


5          Wardle Academy Youth         Lee Rigg

Marziale fromThe Armed Man (Karl Jenkins arr. Tony Small)
The Great Little Army (Kenneth J. Alford)
Hymn Before Action from The Armed Man (Karl Jenkins arr. Tony Small)
Flanders Fields (Dan Price)
The Last Post (Military)
Flanders Fields (Andante Sostenuto) (Dan Price)


The talented (and reigning National Youth Intermediate Champion) Wardle Academy Youth have also chosen a wartime them for their performance today. Precision choreography on an open stage and incisive delivery make Wardle’s opening by Karl Jenkins a powerful statement. Continuing with The Great Little Army the band is still without their conductor, Lee Rigg – they cope admirably! Despite their number, they deliver the delicate passages with some style. Now in cross-shape formation, the band take on the powerful Hymn Before Actionfrom The Armed Man. Completing their performance the band open Dan Price’s Flanders Fieldswith a letter from the front. The band has re-imagined this piece to include The Last Post- what beautiful warmth they find in this moving tribute. Against a sombre backdrop of images from WW1, the band’s narrator recites In Flanders Fields.The emotion and the intent is all there, however some of the ensemble is just a little imprecise in places. That said, this provides a dramatic and fitting close to Wardle’s performance today and they finish on a real emotional high – the singing and laying of poppies is really thought-provoking and very, very moving. This was one of the most moving tributes I’ve ever seen, with the individual poppies creating a larger image on stage, that possible only those in the balcony would have seen. Beautiful. Perhaps not the precision of Elland, but they get the prize for moving the audience to tears!


4 Elland Silver Youth Samantha Harrison

Fantasy on London Nursery Rhymes (Dan Price)
One Bitter December’s Night (Jonathan Bates)
Live and Let Die (Paul McCartney arr. Ray Farr –soprano soloist: Adam Hofland- Ward)
Cenotaph (Gordon Langford)
Nightingale Dances (Matthew Hall)


4 Elland Silver Youth Samantha Harrison

Fantasy on London Nursery Rhymes (Dan Price)
One Bitter December’s Night (Jonathan Bates)
Live and Let Die (Paul McCartney arr. Ray Farr –soprano soloist: Adam Hofland- Ward)
Cenotaph (Gordon Langford)
Nightingale Dances (Matthew Hall)

Based around the theme of Wartime Portraits the pioneering and highly entertaining, Elland Silver Youth don’t disappoint in their tribute to wartime Britain. Wow! The sound, the organisation of the ensemble and stylish delivery absolutely captivate the audience from the start. Dan Price’s Fantasy on London Nursery Rhymesis a tour de force – what a fantastic opener! The band continues with a new commission written by Jonathan Bates. Set against the backdrop of images from the Battle of Britain, One Bitter December’s Night has drama and serious intent, and the band delivers with clarity and intensity. Soprano soloist Adam Hofland-Ward delivers a stylish and confident rendition ofLive and Let Die. One word to describe this – stunning! Opening with a recital of The Soldierby wartime poet Rupert Brooke, the band pays a fitting and poignant tribute now to the war-dead with Cenotaphby Gordon Langford. Closing their performance, the band has chosen Nightingale Dances, and they carry it off with flair and style! Youth band conductors everywhere – you have to hear this band! Loved every minute of this performance – it just oozed class!


3          Rochdale Borough Youth        Ben Dixon
Drums of Thunder (Peter Graham)
Hymn for Africa (Peter Meechan – cornet soloist: Ellie Warren)
King of the Swingers (Michael Golding)
Africa (Max Stannard)
Circle of Life

The stage is in darkness and the bold trombones open Peter Graham’s classic Drums of Thunderfrom Windows of the World– what commitment! There’s lots to admire in this thrilling opening, particularly the precision of the ensemble and the dramatic dynamic landscape. The narration takes us to Africa and Peter Meechan’s Hymn for Africa. Without music Ellie Warren delivers a beautifully shaped opening solo – brava! Some tiny flaws in the intonation as the music moves from minor to major, but this quickly warms – lovely sounds from the middle of the band! The band now feature their hugely talented trombone section in Michael Golding’s arrangement of the Disney classic King of the Swingers. With neat choreography and classy jazz improvisations from solo cornet and euphonium, the band is really enjoying itself! What a brilliant number! The band continue their African odyssey with an arrangement of Africaby Toto and the vocal talents of the band’s BBb bass player, Ben Whitehead. Closing their performance with great energy and – AT LAST! – some audience participation (even if it’s only some clapping along!), the band perform a new arrangement of Circle of Life.

2 Youth Brass 2000     Chris Jeans

Blackbird Special (arr. Reid Gilje)
Ye Morning Stars of Light(Andi Cook)
The Long Way Home (Paul McGhee)
The Tongs and Bones (Derek Bourgeois – percussion soloist: Sophie Stevenson)
Starburst (Dan Price)

Five-time National and current European Youth Band Champion burst onto stage with confidence and class in the Dirty Dozen’s classic opener. With the percussion driving this, they’ve no need for Chris Jeans … yet! The maestro makes his entrance, to lead the band in Andi Cook’s new composition Ye Morning Stars of Light. Beautiful solo contributions form solo euphonium and solo flugel – there are some thrilling sounds from top to bottom – this is a band on great form! Bullying, and the trauma that results, form the theme for the band’s new commission The Long Way Homeby Paul McGhee. Dramatic, and full of intense energy, this is a tour de force for both the band and composer.
The Tongs and the Boneshas Shakespearean origins, and provides a wonderful vehicle to showcase the skills of the prodigiously talented Sophie Stevenson. Opening on vibraphone, she oozes confidence before moving with ease around the array of percussion (tuned and unturned)! Band and soloist don’t always agree (a couple of ensemble insecurities creep in) but what an amazing display. Building to a close, both band and soloist find all of the playful and humorous moments in this fantastic work. To complete their programme, the band choose the music of Dan Price - Starburst. To an on-screen stellar backdrop the band’s thrilling sound is on show, and coupled with confident solo contributions from flugel, solo cornet and euphoniums, Youth Brass 2000 bring their performance to a close.


1  Houghton Area Youth    Brian Adams


Local hero and current Youth Champion of Durham Festival of Music have the honour of being the first of the first! They have commissioned two local composers – Lee Morris and Luke McCormick - to write an entire suite of music to premiere today – what a fitting way to begin! Their theme today is The Medieval Silk Road comprises six movements, telling the story of a knight journeying to bring silk to his princess.
They begin with a fanfare, resplendent in medieval dress and choreographed beautifully – great start! Lovely, delicate solo contributions from soprano and solo cornet open up the band’s second piece. As the lyrical opening gives way to a quicker compound time section, we hear beautiful sounds from solo horn and flugel. The narration helps tell the story as we move through each vignette, and movement 3 is solo contribution – this time from the band’s principal trombone. Great support from percussion too – and, now that we’re into a quicker, Spanish style, the band is looking energized as well. Some great choreography on show – and the principal trombone is making a fantastic job of this! This has really brought the band’s programme to life – amazing! A short, linking fanfare takes us into the next movement – dance movement featuring the band’s talented principal solo cornet. With the journey complete, the band close out their highly entertaining offering. Fully committed and wonderfully executed, this has been an absolute treat. Great writing and thought from local hero Houghton – fabulous!


 With the sounds of the Elementary Group Concert ringing around the concourse of the iconic Sage, Gateshead, we are eagerly awaiting the arrival of the five bands competing in the first Youth Brass in Concert Championship. Battling it out for the £1000 prize money will be five of the country’s top youth bands, and with more than 700 tickets sold, this afternoon promises to be a delight for the audience.
So … join me at 12 o’clock for the live comments!