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National Youth Brass Band of Great Britain completes Easter course

Written by The National Youth Brass Band of Great Britain on April 21, 2021

The 80-strong National Youth Brass Band of Great Britain (NYBBGB), which next year celebrates its 70th anniversary, has just completed the virtual component of its annual Easter course, run online by its new management team, with Operations Manager Richard Milton, Director of Artistic Planning Dr Robert Childs and CEO Mark Bromley at the helm.

Guest Conductor Ian Porthouse put the young people through a challenging programme of works including Peter Graham’s ‘Triumph of Time’ and Gareth Wood’s ‘Brass Triumphant’. Meanwhile, Guest Cornet Soloist Tom Hutchinson, principal cornet player of Cory Band, ran a masterclass.

Inspiring Highlights

Highlights of the three-day course included workshops with Ian Porthouse, alumnus Captain Samuel Hairsine RN and members of the Royal Marine Bands Service, composer Gavin Higgins (talking about his ballet suite, ‘Dark Arteries’) and Dr Clarence Adoo (trumpeter), who gave an inspiring and thought provoking presentation on his life, to more than 100 delegates. The band’s open day attracted more than 80 visitors, making it the most successful open day since they were first launched.

Helen Williams, flugel tutor, who plays flugel with Cory Band, said: “It was refreshing and extremely heartening to see such a great response to the Easter Course of the NYBBGB. The course combined practical sessions rehearsing repertoire in sectionals and full band with presentations from the Royal Marines and Gavin Higgins. Inspirational seems too weak a description of the session given by Clarence Adoo.

“I was particularly impressed with the last full day of the course on which all members of the band were offered one to one online tuition. I was treated to some fantastic playing from students in the flugel and cornet sections who were preparing for the Katie Ogden Solo Competition. Every timetabled student arrived on time and made the best use of their allocated time. Fabulous!”

Luke Barker, cornet commented:

“The Easter virtual course was a triumph. We were once again treated to amazing masterclasses and workshops, tuition from world class players, and brilliant leadership from Ian Porthouse. It is an incredible opportunity and one of the gems of the banding world, which no one should hesitate becoming a part of.  I can’t wait for the summer course!”

Bethan Spragg, cornet, added:

“What an action packed few days! From virtual sectionals and full band rehearsals to workshops and talks by the Royal Marines, Clarence Adoo and Gavin Higgins, we covered so much in such a short space of time! I feel as if I’ve learnt so much from all our incredible tutors and been inspired by the guest speakers. I thoroughly enjoyed the masterclass and concert by Tom Hutchinson, who gave some great tips on how to progress. I can’t wait for the live regional days to take place in June, what a difference it will be to hear people play rather than watch everyone’s muted box on zoom!”

Expert leadership

Coaching staff were James Fountain (cornet), Mark Wilkinson (cornet), Helen Williams (flugel), Owen Farr (horn), Chris Jeans (trombone), Glyn Williams (baritones and euphonium), Les Neish (utba), Andrea Price (percussion) and John Maines (librarian). The house staff were ably led by Lorraine Childs and Danny Stenhouse.

To complete the course, the band will reconvene on between 2 and 4 June split into three smaller ensembles playing at Chetham’s School of Music (Manchester), Malvern College (Worcestershire) and St Martin-in-the-Fields (London).

There will be an online gala concert on 18 June featuring excerpts from the digital course and a performance of Gareth Wood’s Brass Triumphant.

The NYBBGB Easter course 2021 is sponsored by Yamaha.

Search for the NYBBGB (funded by Arts Council England, the Department for Education and with support from Yamaha) on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and Instagram or visit to keep up-to-date.

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