Youth Brass Band record breakers

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CARNOUSTIE and District Youth Brass Band became the first band in the history of the long running British Youth Brass Band Championships to retain their title of British Youth Champions.

The band, consisting of 42 young players aged between 12 and 20, travelled to Manchester at the weekend to compete in the prestigious competition at the Royal Northern College of Music.

It has only been in existence since 2008 when the musical director, Michael Robertson, brought a group of exceptionally talented young brass players from across Angus together to form a competing youth band.

Since its inception, the band has climbed to the top of youth playing. Last year it was crowned champions of the top Premier Section of the British Youth Brass Band Championships having the year before won the Advanced Section.

The band has worked hard for several months preparing its repertoire for this year’s competition. A total of 45 youth bands from all over Great Britain entered the championships with eight of them fighting it out in the top Championship Section for the overall title.

The 2011 Premier Section champions opened their Gold Award 20-minute programme with a fizzing ‘Enter the Galaxies’, featuring soprano player Callum Tonner on sparking form, before showing their lyrical control by segueing into Simon Dobson’s elegant ‘Little Prayer’.

Bass trombonist 19-year-old Josiah Walters, a first year student at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, produced a remarkable jazz inspired rendition of his own arrangement of Christopher Brubeck’s ‘James Brown in the Twilight Zone’ to deservedly take the Eric Bravington ‘Best Instrumentalist’ prize, before the Scots rounded things off with a run through the Goff Richard’s set work, ‘Oceans’, played with an intoxicating mix of vibrant energy and subtle musicality.

The Carnoustie and District Band received numerous plaudits from the adjudicators, Steven Mead and Dr Roger Webster, were both ‘blown away’ with the performance and announced them as clear winners.

In his summing up, Steven Mead said that the band’s performance had “defied expectations” and there was a great deal to enjoy in what turned out to be a high class contest between eight ensembles made up of players up to the age of 20.

However, both Steven and Roger did make the point that although they felt a number of bands played well, not all performed well – highlighting the need to match their musical endeavours with a visual appreciation of what they were doing.

“It was a bit of a mixed bag today in terms of quality. Nobody played badly, but some of you didn’t look as if you were enjoying it,” Roger added.

Dr Webster said: “This was not outstanding youth playing; this was simply outstanding brass band playing. There are very few bands at any level that can perform with such excellence.”

Mr Mike Robertson, the musical director of the band, said: “I am extremely proud of the young players. They give me their full commitment every week at rehearsals and deserve everything they have achieved.”

Angus South MSP Graeme Dey MSP commented: “Carnoustie and District Youth Brass Band’s success, particularly in retaining their UK title, is fantastic news.

“They are a remarkable ensemble of talented youngsters and I congratulate them and the band leaders on the acclaim they are garnering from all corners of the musical world.

“The band is providing a real inspiration for people across Angus to pick up a musical instrument.”