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Parkhill shines to claim Young Conductors title

24-year-old Royal Conservatoire of Scotland graduate Joshua Parkhill has won our second Young Conductors Competition.

In a high-quality final hosted by British Army Music in Tidworth and sponsored by The Garrick Charitable Trust, Joshua was joined by Andreas Ashkikis, Felicity Cliffe and Craig Sanders as they were in turn asked to work on one of four demanding compositions.

British Army Band Tidworth musicians not only worked alongside the conductors but also with the musicians of The National Youth Brass Band of Great Britain who were part of the day. Army Director of Music Captain Andrew Porter and Principal Director of Music Lieutenant Colonel Dave Barringer were also on hand to put the band through their paces and assist in the adjudication process.

Super day
At the end of a super day it was Joshua who won the cash prize of £750. He will now get to work as Assistant Conductor to Prof David King on the Youth Band’s 2024 summer course at Stonyhurst College, as well as conduct a work at the summer course concert in Blackburn Cathedral.

Speaking to 4BR, Joshua said: “I’m thrilled of course, and my congratulations go to the other superb finalists. Prof King is a bit of a brass band musical icon for me, and I regularly go through a play list of works he has conducted to get inspiration.”

He added: “It was fantastic to work with such great musicians from both the youth band and British Army on Peter Graham’s ‘Shine as the Light’ — and I was so lucky that I was able to ring him for a quick pep talk before I took to the stage.

I think it really gave me an extra boost of confidence. My thanks also go to the adjudicators for their helpful feedback and constructive comments which will help me continue to improve my brass band conducting skills.”

Earlier there was a draw for the order to direct with the bands, as well as for the music they would work on, with the other finalists showcasing their qualities on Eric Ball’s ‘Resurgam’, ‘Music for a Festival’ by Philip Sparke and ‘Dimensions’ by Peter Graham.

Speaking about the excellent overall standard, NYBBGB Artistic Director and competition judge chair Dr Robert Childs told 4BR: “All four finalists were excellent and demonstrated elegance, clarity and great communication skills.

Joshua had clearly done thorough research of the score and not only guided the band through a very efficient and musical interpretation of ‘Shine As The Light’, but he also gave the band great insight into the deeper meaning of this work.”

This competition has also benefitted me enormously and I would recommend any young conductor to enter in the future.”

Joshua Parkhill conducting Peter Graham's Shine as the Light
Joshua Parkhill conducting Peter Graham’s Shine as the Light

Bright and busy future
The future is certainly bright and busy for Joshua as he balances a freelance trombone playing career with his brass band conducting.

He added: “Since graduating I’ve managed to build up playing and conducting commitments and I’m really enjoying working as MD with Brass Sounds Inverclyde and Johnston as well as with UNISON Kinneil as Resident Conductor.

It has also meant getting to grips with some pretty demanding test-pieces for the Regional Championships, so that has also helped me a great deal in my conducting. This competition has also benefitted me enormously and I would recommend any young conductor to enter in the future.”

Foundation stone support
Adding his congratulations, NYBBGB CEO Mark Bromley commented: “Congratulations to Joshua and to Andreas, Felicity and Craig, all of whom have outstanding conducting careers ahead of them.

My thanks also to our partners British Army Music and The Garrick Charitable Trust who have recognised and supported the importance of this competition as a foundation stone to developing future brass band conducting talent.”