£500,000 boost for music education
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”.
Lithuanian winner Indre Jonaityte with Steve Mead and Tom Hutchinson
£1.4m has been given to local authorities for music education