60th Celebrations in Gwent

The Greater Gwent Youth Brass Band celebrated its 60th Anniversary in style this afternoon with a fantastic concert featuring the current youth band, intermediate and beginner band as well as a band of alumni featuring over 70 players that have risen through the ranks of this fine institution.
Featured as guest soloist was perhaps one of the finest Gwent alumni of all, having pioneered a worldwide reputation as a euphonium soloist before turning his hand just as successfully to conducting, Bob Childs delighted the crowd with his playing. Performing two solos with the youth band, ‘Nessun Dorma’ and the classic ‘Grandfather’s Clock’, Bob demonstrated the age-old adage that whilst form can be temporary class is most certainly permanent, with a golden tone emanating from his golden euphonium in the Italian aria and blistering technique shown in Doughty’s air vari. The youth band was also on terrific form under the direction of Chris Turner, choosing to book end its impressive set with two world premier performances from the pen of another Gwent alumni, Dan Bickerton.
It was then the turn of the intermediate band to take to the stage under the guidance of Lana Tingay. The future of Gwent music is certainly secure with nearly 50 youngsters (one of whom was Bob’s 8 year old grandson Ben taking part in his first Gwent Youth Band experience and obviously thrilled to be following in his Grancha’s footsteps) wowing the appreciative audience with a fun programme including ‘A Grand Day Out’, ‘Delilah’, ‘500 Miles’  and finishing with ‘Everybody needs Somebody’ from the film Blues Brothers.
The Alumni band then took the limelight performing classics befitting the more mature group including ‘Castell Coch’, ‘Sosban Fach’ and ‘All through the Night’ under the direction of Alun Williams, Sean O’Neill and Gareth Ritter. Bob Childs also returned to perform the duet ‘Brilliante’ with his son David Childs; the enjoyment on the soloists’ faces at performing together was clear to see and almost matched the jaw dropped grins of the youngsters around them watching in awe at such a dazzling virtuosic display.
The final section of the afternoon saw a slight logistic shift to enable all the musicians to perform as a massed band, firstly accompanying Bob and David playing the beautiful and poignant ‘Softly as I leave You’ by Alfred de Vita, before Bob was offered the baton for the grand finale ‘Procession to the Minster’, which certainly tested the structural integrity of Rougemont School’s Auditorium with the power produced  as the final chord sounded. The audience leapt to their feet to show their appreciation with a well-deserved standing ovation. Congratulations to all involved on such a splendid diamond jubilee celebration.

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