Concert: NYBBGB Reunion Band

Conductor: Robert Childs
9 January 2022

Marking the start of the National Youth Brass Band of Great Britain’s (NYBBGB) 70th anniversary celebrations, the 2022 Butlin’s Festival closed with a dazzling concert programme from the organisation’s Reunion Band, led by Dr. Robert Childs, celebrating the oldest and best youth brass band in the world through a programme of musical connections.

The concert opened with a spectacular Fanfare by founder, Dr. Denis Wright, before continuing in traditional form with the march, National Youth by Dr. Roy Newsome, the band’s Musical Director for 14 years from 1982. Overture Le Corsair, arranged by the NYBBGB’s second MD appointed in 1967, Geoffrey Brand, next showcased the full sound of the Reunion Band with some fine flugel playing from Lauren Chinn.

Ex-NYBBGB principal cornet, Kirsty Abbotts, was the first soloist on show with a beautiful rendition Tom Davoren’s Alaw, followed by a tasteful performance of Percy Grainger’s Shepherd’s Hey before NYBBGB tutor, trustee and alumni, Brett Baker, took to the stage as the second featured soloist (pictured here) in his stylish Makin’ Whoopee by Walter Donaldson. Elgar Howarth, who became NYBBGB Music Advisor in 2000, was saluted next with his blockbuster Pel Mel, composed during his tenure with Grimethorpe under the alias, W. Hogarth Lear, before the first half concluded in terrific form with Dr. Wright’s arrangement of Verdi’s Grand March from Aida.

The second half started with a scintillating performance of Shostakovich’s Festive Overture before soprano star and ex-NYBBGB principal cornet, Alan Morrison, lifted the roof with a stunning performance of Memory from ‘Cats’. The next item, Royal Border Bridge from the pen of Arthur Butterworth, NYBBGB Music Advisor from 1975-1984, was followed by a tribute to two outstanding servants to the NYBBGB, the late Philip Biggs (NYBBGB Administrator of 25 years) and Bramwell Tovey (former NYBBGB Artistic Director for 14 years). The work, composed by NYBBGB alumni Jonathan Bates, was entitled By Water and the Word and commissioned by the Brass Band Summer School in memory of Philip Biggs. In addition to Aurelia, it featured the hymn tune St. Clements, which Bramwell Tovey instigated as the encore of the many NYBBGB concerts he directed.

John Storey and James McCleod provided double delight as they impressed with the high-octane and much-loved euphonium duet, Brilliante, before the Butlin’s crowd was treated to a rousing performance of Tchaikovsky’s tumultuous 1812 Overture, arranged by Dr. Robert Childs himself. Robert has been associated with the NYBBGB for over 50 years as a former member, tutor, trustee, Chairman, guest soloist and guest conductor. He is currently the band’s Director of Artistic Planning and was the driving force behind this gala concert.

In addition to the marvellous music-making, the evening was also graced by the presence of Marilyn Mace – one of only four girls to play in the first NYBBGB course at Thornton Grammar School in Bradford, whilst there was a special welcome for the oldest member of the Reunion Band, John Clay – still a formidable, yet much-loved character in the banding world. Frank Renton also lent his own inimitable charm as compère, revealing his regret at not having registered as a young second cornet player on the initial course, but ensuring the concert was nostalgic, memorable and a wonderful way for the NYBBGB to begin its 70th anniversary year.



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