£500,000 boost for mu­sic ed­u­ca­tion

Glamorgan Gazette - - Brassbandnotes -

I RE­CENTLY men­tioned that the Mu­si­cians’ Union were ask­ing the Gov­ern­ment for bet­ter mu­si­cal ed­u­ca­tion in our schools and also see that Alan Davies, AM for Blaenau Gwent, has men­tioned a pot of money to be re­leased by the Welsh Assem­bly.

An ad­di­tional £500,000 is to be added which will amount to £1.4m to be given to lo­cal au­thor­i­ties which should be used for fund­ing the pro­vi­sion of high qual­ity mu­sic ed­u­ca­tion for all learn­ers.

Mr Davies said: “It is im­por­tant that, what­ever their back­ground, chil­dren are able to ac­cess mu­sic ed­u­ca­tion.”

I think that Alun Davies will be heart­ened to hear that Prince Charles, who plays both trum­pet and cello, agrees with him about the im­por­tance of mu­sic in schools when he says teach­ing mu­sic “makes a more civ­i­lized so­ci­ety”. HAV­ING read about the progress of brass bands in Lithua­nia, which is a very small coun­try with a pop­u­la­tion of just un­der three mil­lion, I am be­gin­ning to re­alise that they could be light years ahead of Wales in about 15 years time if they con­tinue to make the progress that they have made al­ready.

They are very proud of the fact that they have 20 youth bands and are stag­ing the Euro­pean Brass Band Cham­pi­onships in the city of Palanga in 2020, a tru­ely pres­ti­gious event that Wales, de­spite agree­ing to stage these cham­pi­onships, had to with­draw due to eco­nomic rea­sons.

The UK were lead­ing the way, but are now fast be­ing over­taken by Euro­pean coun­tries who are be­ing gov­erned by lead­ers who ap­pear to ap­pre­ci­ate the im­por­tance of grass roots indige­nous cul­tural ac­tiv­i­ties.

The or­gan­i­sa­tion of the re­cent sec­ond Brass Fi­nal staged at the In­ter­na­tional Juozas Pakali­nis com­pe­ti­tion for Winds and Per­cus­sion, which took place in Vil­nius, Lithua­nia, was truly mag­nif­i­cent.

It gave an op­por­tu­nity for Lithua­nian cor­net, trum­pet, eu­pho­nium and tuba play­ers un­der the age of 30 to com­pete against fel­low mu­si­cians from the UK, Ger­many, Spain, Italy ly, Ukraine, Tai­wan, and Au Aus­tralia.

The com­pe­ti­tion consi sisted of three rounds over fiv five days. Com­peti­tors were given a list of works to pre­pare in their bid to reach the fi­nal. Each one tested mu­si­cal in­sight as well as tech­ni­cal abil­ity.

The trum­pet fi­nal­ists were ac­com­pa­nied by the Lithua­nian Cham­ber Orches­tra Mu­sica Hu- mana; the cor­net fi­nal­ists by Brass Band Auk­styn and the eu­pho­ni­ums and tubas by the Lithua­nian Army Orches­tra.

The win­ner, In­dre Jon­aityte of Lithua­nia, re­ceived a prize of 2,000 Euros (around £1,800) and a 10-hour record­ing ses­sion.

The stan­dard was ex­tremely high and both Tom Hutchin­son, Prin­ci­pal cor­net with Cory Band, and Steven Mead, vir­tu­oso Eu­pho­nium soloist, were im­pressed by the win­ner who per­formed Cor­net Con­certo by Philip Sparke and also by the Rus­sian Alexei Ivanov and Ukra­nian Oles Bu­rak, who both played Haydn’s Trum­pet Con­certo.

Tom said: “If you haven’t al­ready heard of these play­ers yet, be­lieve me you will soon!”

Tom Hutchin­son was also judg­ing along with Pro­fes­sor Ni­cholas Childs, mu­si­cal di­rec­tor of Black Dyke Band, at the re­cently held Swiss Valaisian Solo and Quar­tet Cham­pi­onship and both were wowed by the in­cred­i­ble stan­dard be- ing demon­strated by the com­peti­tors.

Tom added: “I’ve never heard tech­ni­cal play­ing like that any­where – cer­tainly not in Wales or Eng­land.”

Euro­pean bands are fast be­com­ing the best bands in the north­ern hemi­sphere and a quick look at the 4barsrest Top 10 ranked bands in the world will see that Cory are num­ber one and Valaisia (Switzer­land) are 2nd; 4th is Eikanger of Nor­way; 7th is Whit­burn of Scot­land and 9th is Tre­de­gar.

All the rest in the Top 10 are English bands.

How­ever, look­ing at the Top 20 we see that the USA has just one band, Scot­land has two, Wales has two, Europe, in the guise of Switzer­land, Nor­way and Bel­gium have seven bands and Eng­land, who has been the real bas­tion of brass bands has just eight.

The depth of qual­ity bands is grow­ing at a pace in Europe and it will not be many years be­fore the UK bands will be looked upon as the “poor bands of Europe”.

WWW.4BARSREST.COM

Lithua­nian win­ner In­dre Jon­aityte with Steve Mead and Tom Hutchin­son

£1.4m has been given to lo­cal au­thor­i­ties for mu­sic ed­u­ca­tion

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