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Young Brass Players at the Heart of Brass in Concert Festival

Posted on 28 November 2018


Hundreds of young musicians were involved in this year’s Brass in Concert Festival at Sage Gateshead.

The prestigious festival celebrated its 42nd year earlier this month at the North East music venue.

More than 100 pupils aged between six and 11 from schools in Ashington and Bedlington took part in workshops with professional brass musicians in the months leading up to the event.

And five youth brass bands performed in the main concert hall – Sage One – in the Festival’s first Youth Brass in Concert Championships.

The winners were Wardle Academy Youth Band, followed closely by Elland Silver Youth Band, then Rochdale Borough Youth Band, Youth Brass 2000 and Houghton Area Youth Band. The winning soloist was Adam Halford-Ward on soprano cornet from Elland Silver Youth Band, who played Live and Let Die by Paul McCartney, arranged by Ray Farr. Most Entertaining Band was Elland Silver Youth Band. Adjudicators were Richard Evans and Helen Harrelson.

In September pupils from Northumberland schools Ringway Primary, Mowbray Primary, Ellington Primary, Stead Lane Primary, Meadowdale Academy, Bedlington Academy, West End First School and Whitley Memorial Church of England First School were introduced to brass instruments. They were taught how to play cornets, baritones, trombones and tenor horns by Laura Jackson (conductor at Elementary Players Band) and tutors from Reg Vardy and NASUWT Riverside Bands and Music Partnership North (Northumberland).

It was part of Brass in Concert’s new youth education programme, run in association with Music Partnership North (Northumberland), and culminated in the schools performing a short concert at the Festival at Sage Gateshead.

Fiona Johnstone, Business Development Officer for Music Partnership North (Northumberland), said: “Music Partnership North are very grateful to Brass in Concert for providing this unique opportunity for the young brass players of South East Northumberland to perform at such a high profile and prestigious event.

“It is essential that students have the opportunity to perform outside of their school setting and what better location than to perform at Sage Gateshead. The day was truly inspirational and all the students were very excited.”

The weekend also featured the main Brass in Concert Championship (won by Cory Band), a masterclass with Mike Lovatt and a Sinatra themed gala concert featuring Fodens and award-winning singer Matthew Ford (compered by Radio 2 legend Frank Renton). Recent Norwegian SIDDIS champions Manger Musikklag also performed a feast of brass on the Concourse before the gala concert.

David Bennett, secretary of The Brass in Concert Championship, said: “The staging of the first Youth Brass in Concert Championships was a natural development to mirror our work with the Brass in Concert Championship and we have been delighted with the interest from bands and the response from the general public.

“It was an outstanding event that will be a continuing feature of the festival in the years ahead.”