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Success at Youth Champs

28 Mar 2024

A report from Judith Atkins, MD of Wantage Beginner Band, on the recent Youth Champs, held in Cheltenham.

Success at Youth Champs 2024

Congratulations to the forty-seven young players who represented WSB at the Youth Champs on Saturday 23rd March in Cheltenham. Wantage Beginner Band and Wantage Youth Brass were two of thirty-eight bands to take to the stage and both performed wonderfully.

Beginner Band had an early start. We arrived at 8:50am with plenty of time to set up and have a warmup prior to going on stage. This was a completely new experience for the band but every player responded brilliantly with no sign of nerves. They all looked incredibly smart on stage in their purple polo shirts. 

Our performance opened with Karen Burton’s WSB March which we had adapted specially for the band. The adjudicators praised the choice of original music and were hugely impressed that our cornet soloist, Alice, had memorised the opening theme. Rosie, appropriately playing ‘The Rose’, was also highly commended for playing her baritone solo without music. This piece required lots of dynamic control and tight ensemble playing to compliment the soloist. Our final two pieces were an enthusiastic rendition of Can-Can, with some fantastic trombone playing, and Baggy Trousers to finish. This was tricky for percussion; Ariane, in particular, had to master a complicated kit part.  The band particularly enjoyed the use of flutter-tonguing and a rousing cry of ‘oi!’ towards the end. Although the Showcase Section was not competitive, the band learnt a lot through the preparation of the pieces and performing at the event and appreciated the positive feedback.

Members of Wantage Youth Brassm with their MD Sara Wallbridge, celebrate in one of the backstage rooms. Many players are holding their instruments in the air.
Wantage Youth Brass celebrate after their performance

Youth Brass, performing in the Yamaha Performance section, played later in the morning. Sara had selected a challenging but very enjoyable programme for the band which was recognised by the adjudicators. Our opening piece, Alan Fernie’s Prismatic light, got us off to a flying start. This was followed by Under the Boardwalk featuring Holly on flugel supported by Ciara on Eb bass. Holly performed the solo without music and was praised for her confidence and ‘lovely sound’. Momentum by Thomas Doss was an extremely difficult piece for the band but on the day we did a great job. The balance of the band was commended along with Josh’s ‘beautiful sound’ in the solo. To finish, the band upped the tempo again with ‘What the Funk’ which, with its driving percussion and section features, finished our programme on a high. The adjudicators’ comments were constructive and fair and have given us plenty to work on.

We had a great time in Cheltenham and gained enormously from the experience. Thank you to all our players, our helpers and also to the very noisy and enthusiastic supporters in the audience. 

Judith Atkins, MD Wantage Beginner Band

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