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AUTUMN CONCERT - Sunday 7th October

REVIEW by Neil Welch

The Isle Of Wight Youth Concert Band’s Autumn Concert took place at Memorial Hall, Freshwater, on Sunday 7 October.


The first half started with Days Of Glory by John Cacavas, with its distinctive countermelodies.  Billy Strayhorn’s Take The “A” Train, written for Duke Ellington, was next, followed by a selection from Oklahoma! (Richard Rodgers).  The Band delivered a very smooth and creamy take on A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square (Manning Sherwin) before a Showcase of songs by Marvin Hamlisch (arranged by Warren Barker took us to the interval.


Better known as the theme to Worker’s Playtime, Calling All Workers by Eric Coates continued the nostalgia as it kicked off the second half.  Moonlight Serenade Glenn Miller.  A selection from Mamma Mia! (Benny Andersson, Bjorn Ulvaeus) led to a quartet of trombones leading the Band in Frolic For Trombones (Reginald Heath), an additional piece not in the programme. Glenn Miller’s St Louis Blues was the final Big Band offering before a suite fromPirates Of The Caribbean: Curse Of The Black Pearl (Hans Zimmer) brought the concert to a conclusion.


This was the first concert of the year featuring a new Band.  As usual, senior players have moved on to higher education, and cuts in education funding mean that fewer young players join bands.  So this concert featured a smaller and relatively inexperienced Band.  In such cases there is sometimes hesitancy when a piece starts, and consequently some of the quieter, slower pieces were a little ragged to begin with.  However, this lasted no more than a bar or two before the Band was playing solidly as a single unit despite the absence of any flutes.


Martyn Stroud compered and conducted, except for Nightingale and Moonlight Serenade, where Donna Brihmani took over, giving Martyn the opportunity to join the Band on trombone.


SPRING CONCERT- 22nd April 2018

REVIEW By Neil Welch

Ventnor Winter Gardens hosted the Spring Concert of the Isle Of Wight Youth Concert Band’s on Sunday 22 April


The stirring march Days Of Glory (John Cacavas) got things under way, with Gopak, a typical Cossack-flavoured piece from Aram Katchaturian’s ballet Gayane, keeping things lively.  Elsa’s Procession To The Cathedral (Richard Wagner, arranged by Frank Erickson, from Lohengrin) is an old Band favourite: its stately majesty is always moving. Cameron Tarry delivered a fluent and attractive saxophone solo in Forever In Love (Kenneth “Kenny G” Gorelick): the solo was great and the Band played the piece well but, for me, it outstayed its welcome without ever going anywhere interesting.  The Junior Band, under the baton of Donna Brihmani, played La Bamba (Ritchie Valens) and Tequila(Daniel Flores) before the Senior Band joined them, and an emotional medley from Les Miserables (Claude-Michel Schönberg) brought the first half to a close.


James Curnow’s Sovereign Variants started the second half, with ‘Round Midnight (Thelonius Monk) mellowing things out.  Carl Friedmann’s Slavonic Rhapsody No 2 was a less familiar piece before the Junior Band again offered another solo item, Boogie Band : Movements 1 and 3 (Mark Goddard).  The combined Bands then played the light-hearted Frolic ForTrombones (Reginald Heath) before another emotional Schönberg medley, this time from Miss Saigon, sent the audience home with tears in their eyes.


The Winter Gardens provided a terrific acoustic – the Band sounded very rich – but, unfortunately, due to an existing set on stage, they were seated on the auditorium floor, and visibility was poor.  Coupled with this, there was no amplification for speech, so it was difficult at the rear of the hall to make out what the compere and conductors were saying at the front.


Michael Arnell compered, with Donna Brihmani and Martyn Stroud conducting. 



CHRISTMAS CONCERT – 3rd December 2017
REVIEW by Neil Welch

A good crowd enjoyed the Isle Of Wight Youth Concert Band’s Christmas Concert at Medina Theatre on Sunday 3 December.  A festively decorated stage added to the early Yuletide atmosphere as James Curnow’s Christmas Overture wove together multiple carol fragments.  Good soloing characterised A Home Alone Christmas (John Williams), then the dark chords in Philip Sparke’s arrangement of the 15th century Veni Immanuel created a portentous mood.  The Junior Band lightened things with a selection fromAladdin (Alan Menken) before returning to festive material with Walking In The Air (Howard Blake) from The Snowman.  The combined Senior and Junior Bands played Deck The Halls in a jaunty arrangement by James Curnow, leading into the audience singing along with Hark The Herald Angels Sing and The Holly And The Ivy.  The first half concluded with a selection of melodies from the film The Polar Express (Alan Silverstri).
The audience clapped happily along with the Radetzky March (Johann Strauss) as the second half got under way.  A Fireside Christmas (Sammy Nestico) was a second medley of Christmas favourites, but Season’s Greetings, composed by conductor Martyn Stroud was original, albeit flavoured with Christmas snippets.  The Junior Band played a second Alan Menken/Disney selection, this time from Beauty And The Beast, before both Bands joined together again.  Audience participation was encouraged with carols Joy To The World and Ding Dong Merrily On High, and with popular Christmas songs in Christmas Swingalong (arranged by Derek Ashmore).  Leroy Anderson’s A Christmas Selection was an exciting finale, while his Sleighride was a welcome, if not entirely unexpected, encore.
The Friends’ Award for services to the Band was made to Tony Hawkins by wife Gwen.
Michael Arnell compered, and Ayred some poetry while doing so.
Donna Brihmani conducted the Junior Band and Martyn Stroud conducted the Senior Band, and they took turns conducting the combined Band.


AUTUMN CONCERT – 15th October 2017
REVIEW by Neil Welch

The Memorial Hall in Freshwater played host to The Isle of Wight Youth Concert Band’s Autumn Concert on Sunday 15th October  The Band filled the small stage, and conductor Martyn Stroud had to be careful not to fall off!
The jaunty Bandology (Eric Osterling) kicked things off, with the corny but melodramatically cheerful Lustspiel overture (Béla Kéler) following on.  Ronald Binge’s Elizabethan Serenade is familiar to everyone who listened to radio in the 1960s  Italian Festival was a medley of Italian flavoured music arranged by Glenn Osser, mainly from films of the 50s and 60s, and this led to Glenn Miller’sMoonlight Serenade, as smooth now as it was in the war years.  The gentle acoustic of the Hall embraced the fullness of the Band’s sound as Sovereign Variants (James Curnow) finished the first half.
Royal Salute (Richard Waterer) was a bouncy start to the second half.  The much-loved English Folk Song Suite, in which Ralph Vaughn-Williams intertwined various bucolic folk songs, led toDances With Wolves.  John Barry’s beautiful motif features in an arrangement by Frank Bernaerts which does little more than repeat it far too often.  A selection from Cats (Andrew Lloyd-Webber) had far more melodic variation before a full-blooded rendition of Dies Irae (Giuseppe Verdi) brought the concert to a conclusion.
As well as conducting, Martyn Stroud also compered, and all without the aid of a safety net!

SUMMER CONCERT – 23rd July 2017
REVIEW by Neil Welch

The Isle of Wight Youth Concert Band’s Summer Concert took place at Medina Theatre on Sunday 23rd July.
In a first half containing only film music, the familiar strains of Colonel Bogey (Kenneth Alford) marched proceedings off to a good start before John Williams’ iconic music from the very first Star Warsfilm took us to Tatooine and beyond.  Lalo Schifrin showed us that putting 5 beats in every bar was not a Mission Impossible before  the Band’s Junior section took to the stage.
Their performance started with their signature piece, Raiders March (John Williams) before continuing with a selection from Aladdin, the Pink Panther theme (Henry Mancini) and a selection fromBeauty And The Beast.   The senior Band took to the stage, and the combined Bands played a selection from Pocohontas.  The selections from the 3 animated Disney films were all composed by the brilliant Alan Menken.
The audience were, I am sure, all waiting for a giant foot to arrive from on high as the second half opened with John Philip Sousa’s Liberty Bell.  A medley from South Pacific (Richard Rodgers) led to the 2nd Movement from Joaquin Rodrigo’s Aranjuez Mon Amour.  Then, in celebration of the 50th anniversary of their Sgt Pepper LP, The Beatles: Echoes Of An Era featured a number of Lennon-McCartney compositions, including three from that album.  The Junior Band returned and the combined Bands played Birdland (Joseph Zawinul) and Mars from the Planets Suite (Gustav Holst) to finish.
It goes without saying that the musicianship from the young players in both Bands was, as always, most impressive.
Leavers’ certificates were presented to Hattie Pusey, Chris Taylor, John Stirling and Sophie Swallow and Jamie Smith received what can only be termed a “special award.”
Chris Taylor was awarded the Mike Hayles Memorial Shield as Player’s Player, voted for by the Band members, and Smantha Smart was awarded the Shanklin Rotary Shield for Player Of The Year.
Martyn Stroud conducted the Senior Band and Donna Brihmani conducted the Junior Band.   Michael Arnell compered and recalled the good old days of Fab vinyl!

SPRING CONCERT – 14th May 2017
REVIEW by Neil Welch

St Catherine’s Church, Ventnor, was the venue for The Isle of Wight Youth Concert Band’s Spring Concert (Sunday 14th May).  Central government austerity means funding for youth music education is reduced: this feeds into fewer band members and smaller audiences, hence a move towards smaller venues.  In compensation, St Catherine’s Church has a superb acoustic which gave body to a smaller band than usual, with the brass having a particularly meaty sound.
The programme was full of old favourites.  The familiar good-natured swing of Blaze Away (Abe Holzmann) started things off, with Franz von Suppe’s Light Cavalry overture following.  The main theme from the film The Big Country (Jerome Moross) sounded great: the small number of woodwinds, taking the busy riff handled by the violins on film, were not overpowered by the brass.  The accelerating Russian dance Kalinka )Ivan Larionov) was as much fun as ever, and the lilting serenity of Elsa’s Procession To The Cathedral from Lohengrin (Richard Wagner), leading to its huge climax, seemed particularly fitting in the surroundings of the Church.  The first half closed with a selection from Phantom Of The Opera (Andrew Lloyd-Webber).
Days Of Glory (John Cacavas) kicked things off after the interval.  Malaguena from Ernesto Lecuona’s Anadalucia Suite was as Spanish as the previous item was American.  Soundtrack music from Pirates Of The caribben (Klaus Badelt and Hans Zimmer) had a dramatic percussive feel to it, contrasting with the lyrical, quietly stirring Nimrod from Sir Edward Elgar’s Enigma Variations.  More contemporary was the brassy swing of Atlantic Avenue before the concert finished with Overture Jubiloso (Frank Erickson).
Martyn Stroud conducted and compered, and presented the Founder’s Award for most promising player to Jamie Smith who, at the age of 12, has been awarded one of a limited number of places at the prestigious Purcell School.


SPECIAL CONCERT – 5th March 2017
REVIEW by Neil Welch

The Isle of Wight Youth Concert Band’s first concert of the new year is always a Special Concert, featuring soloists and ensembles. Held on 5th March at the Anthony Minghella Theatre at Quay Arts Centre, a capacity audience heard a very full programme.

The Teutonic flavour of Coburger Marsch (Michael Haydn) gave way to the jolly cavorting of Frolic For Trombones (Reginald Heath) , in which trombonists Chris Taylor, Jonathan Smith, Sophie Nolan and Joe Thompson took centre stage. Katie Ball, accompanied by Martin Dover on piano, played Prelude From The Victorian Kitchen Garden (Paul Reade), a wistfully attractive clarinet solo full of runs up and down the scales. A brass group comprising Bertie Whistance, George Miles, Charlie Weldon, Jonathan Smith, Milo Varley-Winter and Jamie Smith played the 1st Movement from “The Shipbuilders” by Peter Yorke, a very descriptive, percussive-sounding, quaver-driven piece. Isabelle Wilson showed what a recorder is capable of in the 3rd movement from “Sonatina” (Colin Hand), and Samantha Smart soled with her flute, playing the stately 1st Movement from Sonata no 5 in E Minor (Johann Sebastian Bach), both accompanied once more by Martin Dover. The first half closed with the Jazz Police (Gordon Goodwin), a piece which could not have been called anything else!

Walter Kendall’s march Glorious Victory opened the second half, followed by The Impresario (Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart) a busy piece very typical of its composer. Friedrich Huppe’s saxophone soloed in the mellow and mildly melancholic Here’s That Rainy Day (Jimmy Van Heusen) before the Band played an old favourite, the always delightful Serenade by Derek Bourgeois, with its barmy but shrewd selection of irregular time signatures. The final ensemble, woodwinds with tuba, featured Caitlin Miller, Alanah Hersey, Atalanta Hersey, Friedrich Huppe and Jamie Smith playing I Swear (Gerry Baker, Frank Myers), last seen performed by the Minions in Despicable Me 2. The closing piece was Gustav Holst’s Second Suite In F For Military Band, 4 pieces based round British folk music, which closes with the wonderfully bonkers notion of bolting Greensleeves onto Irish diddly-dee music.

The Minghella Theatre, while maintaining its reputation for uncomfortable seating, nonetheless proved a pleasingly intimate venue, suiting Musical Director Martyn Stroud’s friendly, informal compering style, not to mention giving the Band a softer but more powerful acoustic.



IW Youth Concert Band – Christmas Concert
Concert Review - Sunday 11th December 2016
by Neil Welch

Medina Theatre was packed for The Isle of Wight Youth Concert Band’s Christmas Concert. Overture to a Winter Festival (James Curnow) opened proceedings, followed by the Andy Williams hit The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year (Edward Pola and George Wyle).  A Home Alone Christmas presented a selection of John Williams’ melodies from the eponymous movies.  The Junior Band took the stage under the baton of Donna Brihmani, and played Winter Wonderland (Felix Bernard, Richard B Smith), Walking In The Air (Howard Blake), and All I Want For Christmas Is You (Mariah Carey).  Some 20-strong, including 4 younger members of the Senior Band, the sound they produced was impressively full and solid.  St Francis Primary School Choir joined both bands for Away In A Manger and Deck The Halls before the Senior Band played Philip Sparke’s impressively portentous and majestic arrangement of Veni Immanuel – for me, the best piece in the concert.  The first half closed with Alan Silvestri’s theme from the movie The Polar Express.
The Band returned to the festively decorated auditorium to kick off the second half with Season’s Greetings, a Christmas march by conductor Martyn Stroud before giving a spirited rendition of Leroy Anderson’s Christmas Festival.  More familiar seasonal melodies followed in A Fireside Christmas (Sammy Nestico).  The choir took a solo spot with Love Shone Down, and the Junior Band ensured that the stage was filled for Joy To The World, The Holly And The Ivy, White Christmas (Irving Berlin) and Christmas Swingalong (arranged by Derek Ashmore) before the traditional and well-loved encore of Sleigh Ride (Leroy Anderson).
Shanklin Mayor John Gilbey and Shanklin Rotary Club President Steve Knight and their wives were guests.
The Friends Of The Band award for services to the Band went to long-time stalwart Charissa Bartram, who also received a Leaver’s Certificate as she goes off to university to study nursing.
Michael Arnell compered with Yuletide geniality.

IW Youth Concert Band – Autumn Concert
Concert Review - Sunday 23rd October 2016
by Neil Welch

The Isle of Wight Youth Concert Band kicked off its new season with its Autumn Concert at Medina Theatre.  James L Hosay’s Guardians Of Peace led into a selection from Annie where the dynamic variations in Paul Jennings’ arrangement showcased different sections of the band very effectively.  Old favourite Dances With Wolves (John Barry, arranged by Frank Bernaerts) was followed by two less familiar pieces: the serene Adagio In G Minor (Tomaso Albinoni, arranged by Willy Hautvast), and Clare Grundman’s English Suite, which closed the first half.
Ostholsteiner Marsch was composed by Conductor Martyn Stroud: as Compere, he led the audience on a guessing game through the familiar melodies which made up Mancini Magic (Henry Mancini, arranged by Trevor L Sharpe).  The smooth big band sound of Moonlight Serenade (Glenn Miller, arranged by Martyn Stroud) gave way to the smoky nightclub feel of ‘Round Midnight (Thelonius Monk, arranged by Sammy Nestico), before Michael! (a Michael Jackson selection, arranged by Robert W Smith, and in the programme for two consecutive concerts due to popular demand, led into the final piece, Fandango (Frank Perkins, arranged by Floyd E Werle).
The band, at less than two dozen players, was smaller than any I can recall seeing.  Woodwinds had suffered disproportionate attrition (one flute, no oboe), yet the sound remained full and well balanced.  Importantly, young players can feel daunted by being exposed without support, but there was no absence of confidence here: this young and inexperienced Band played with great assurance.  They deserved a bigger audience than the half-full house they played to.

IW Youth Concert Band – Summer Concert
Concert Review - Sunday 24th July 2016
by Neil Welch

The Summer Concert from The Isle of Wight Youth Concert Band (Medina Theatre, 24th July) saw more farewells than usual. 

The opening march, Op.99 (Sergei Prokofiev, arranged by Paul Yoder) conjured up a dash through pine forests in the company of a group of eccentrics having a party.  A selection from Miss Saigon (Claude-Michel Schönberg and Alain Boublil) followed: a barnstorming performance by the Band.  The Junior Band took the stage under the baton of Alana Spence and played Queen In Concert (Queen, arranged by Jay Boocock), Mission Impossible (Lalo Schifrin) and River Deep, Mountain High (Ike and Tina Turner, arranged by Alana Spence).  Senior Band conductor Martyn Stroud smiled broadly at the rasping tuba in Another One Bites The Dust.  A brass heptet played two numbers: Chameleon by Herbie Hancock, and Quintophonics by “some bloke” who turned out to be none other than M. Stroud Esq.   Michael!, a selection of Michael Jackson songs (arranged by Robert W. Smith) closed the first half.
John Williams’ title march from Raiders Of The Last Ark (arranged by Paul Lavender) opened after the interval: after a hesitant start there was a magical moment when the Band suddenly really got hold of the piece.  The Overture from Don Giovanni (Mozart) led to the theme from The Incredibles, a jazzy 60s-flavoured piece by Michael Giacchino (arranged by Takashi Hoshide).  The stately Prelude to Act Three of Lohengrin (Richard Wagner, arranged by Geoffrey Brand) was followed by the Junior Band playing a selection from The Lion King (Elton John, arranged by Paul Lavender), and the concert closed dramatically with Dies Irae (Guiseppe Verdi, arranged by Jay Boocock).
Charlie Goodstein-Oliver, President of The Interact Club of Cowes, made a donation of a share of funds raised at an event at which the Junior Band had played.  There were presentations to Leavers Aaron Snow, Rose Flynn and Alice Lyons, and Aaron was also presented with the Shanklin Rotary Club Shield for Musician of the Year.
And Alana Spence, who is leaving the Island, was presented with flowers in grateful recognition of her work with the Junior Band.
Michael Arnell compered with solar flair.

IW Youth Concert Band – Spring Concert
Concert Review - Sunday 8th May 2016
by Neil Welch

A decent-sized audience enjoyed The Isle of Wight Youth Concert Band’s Spring Concert at Medina Theatre on 8th May. 
The theatrical theme of the concert was set from the start with Entrance and March of the Peers from “Iolanthe” (Sir Arthur Sullivan), followed by Malcolm Arnold’s Anniversary Overture.  Maurice Ravel’s Bolero is always a favourite, and works well in concert.  Broadway Showstoppers featured a selection of lesser-known show tunes arranged by Warren Baker.  Far more familiar was Bohemian Rhapsody (Freddie Mercury), a difficult piece played well.  The first half closed with Crown Imperial (William Walton).
Paul Neville’s march Sword of Honour opened after the interval, before the Band tackled Leonard Bernstein’s Candide overture.  This was a superb performance of a fiendishly difficult piece, riddled with irregular time signatures and frequent switches between them.  Think of Me from Phantom of the Opera (Andrew Lloyd-Webber) was melodic enough to maintain momentum, but Lone Star Celebration (James Curnow) was, perhaps, a little shapeless.  A sterling performance of St Louis Blues March (William Handy, arranged by Jerry Gray) led to the final piece, Evenings at Pops, a selection of relatively unfamiliar film themes by John Williams.
One must mention negatives when they are apparent and, on this occasion, The Band was clearly below strength which led to occasional raggedness at the start of some numbers. There was no oboe, and a single tuba.  The essence of a Band is ensemble performance, but 11-year old tuba player Jamie Smith merits mention: the absence of the meatiness provided by a bass section was noticeable, but Jamie did his considerable best on his own.
Aaron Snow was presented with the Mike Hayles’ Memorial Shield for the players’ player as voted for by playing Band members.  The concert remembered past band manager and chairman Ken Lock who had recently passed away.
Martyn Stroud conducted, and Michael Arnell compered with supernatural anecdotary.

IW Youth Concert Band – Special Concert
Concert Review - Sunday 6th March 2016
by Neil Welch

Sunshine alternated with ice showers on Mother’s Day, but the audience inside Medina Theatre for the Isle of Wight Youth Concert Band’s Special Concert was snug and warm as the trumpet-led melody of "Aces High" (Ron Goodwin) rang out. This concert traditionally features solos and small ensembles: the first of these was Charlie Weldon playing the much loved horn solo from the final movement of "Mozart’s Horn Concerto No 4". This was followed by Hattie Pusey singing "People Should Smile More" (Newton Faulkner) to Chris Taylors guitar accompaniment. The Junior Band took the stage under the baton of Alana Spence, and impressed with robust and assured performances of "La Bamba" (Ritchie Valens), a "Beauty And The Beast" medley (Alan Menken, arranged by Paul Lavender) "Opus One" – very smooth! – (Sy Oliver and Sid Garris, arranged by Eric Osterling) and selections from Howard Shore’s soundtrack music from the "Lord Of The Rings" films. The Senior Band closed the first half with "Sovereign Variants" (James Curnow), which sounded impressively lush.

The "Radetzky March" (Johann Strauss Sr) opened proceedings after the interval: the audience clapped along enthusiastically, despite the jokey caesurae. Three more solos follows. Bertie Whistance (accompanied on piano by Alana Spence) played the stately "2nd Movement from Joseph Haydn’s Trumpet Concerto" in lovely creamy tones. Piano also accompanied Samantha Smart, with a very precise performance of the "2nd Movement from Flute Sonata" (Francis Poulenc) which was melodic and traditional-sounding despite dating back only to 1957. Finally the full Band supported Oliver Nolan with a skilled rendition of the "Andante And Scherzo" for euphonium by Reginald Heath. The "Come Dancing" theme (Hubert David and Ray Downes) had a big band swing feel to it, as did (in a change to the programme) "That Old Black Magic" – music by Harold Arlen – which saw the Band make a rare stumble with a hesitant and somewhat uncoordinated opening: they recovered very nicely. The closing number saw no such problems: the full Band took Ray Farr’s rock arrangement of Johann Sebastian Bach’s toccata from his "Toccata And Fugue In D Minor" and thundered powerfully and exhilaratingly along, aided immeasurably by guest drummer Richard Wilson, bringing the concert to a dramatic conclusion.

It is worth commenting that the Band’s average membership is very obvious much younger (and more diminutive!) than in previous years: this has not compromised the standard of the music produced, which is as full and rich as ever.

The Founders Trophy for most improved player of the year was awarded to Oliver Nolan.
Martyn Stroud conducted and compered, with Alana Spence doing the honours for the Junior Band.



IW Youth Concert Band – Christmas Concert
Concert Review - Sunday 13th December 2015
by Neil Welch

A Christmas Festival (Leroy Anderson) erupted into Medina Theatre like a 5-minute explosion of pure Christmas.  It was followed by Festive Overture (Dmitri Shostakovich) with its fanfare opening and breathless pace, which gave The Isle of Wight Youth Concert Band’s Christmas Concert (Sunday 13th December) as exciting an opening as I can recall.  The Junior Band took the stage for four numbers – Knowing Me, Knowing You (Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus), The Pink Panther Theme (Henry Mancini), I Swear (Gary Banker and Frank J. Myers), and All I Want For Christmas Is You (Mariah Carey), and were enormously impressive for a Band of such youth and inexperience.  Philip’s Sparke’s round-like arrangement of Veni Immanuel offered lush washes of sound, before the first half closed with Alan Silvestri’s music from the film The Polar Express.
The second half opened with a move away from Christmas with the Thunderbirds march (Barry Gray) before getting back into the season swing of things with The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year (Edward Pola and George Wyle).  John Williams’ sentimental themes from Home Alone followed before Polly Green serenaded the audience with The Christmas Song (also known as Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire) by Mel Torme and Bob Wells.  The Junior Band returned, and the combined Band (with audience participation) took the concert to a festive conclusion with Walking In The Air from The Snowman (Howard Blake), The Holly And The Ivy and O Come All Ye Faithful (truly glorious to hear!) and White Christmas (Irving Berlin), with an encore of Sleigh Ride (Leroy Anderson, bookending the afternoon).
Madalena Squires was awarded the Keith Underwood Cup for musicianship and loyalty by the Junior Band, Roy Adams was presented with the Friends Of The Band award for services to the Band, and Leavers’ Certificates were given to Grace Green, and Miranda and Atalanta Hersey.
Martyn Stroud conducted the senior band, Alana Spence conducted the Junior Band, and Michael Arnell compered with Yuletide glee.

IW Youth Concert Band – Autumn Concert
Concert Review - Sunday 18th October 2015

This concert could have been accurately subtitled “Old Favourites.”  Most of the programme was familiar to regular audience members, although it should be remembered that it was new to a quite small, and very young and inexperienced, Band.
Vectis Isle (Alan Ingram) kicked things off jauntily, followed by a punchy performance of a selection from Oklahoma! (Richard Rodgers, Oscar Hammerstein II, arranged by Michael Brown).  John Barry’s theme from Dances With Wolves had some lovely sustained brass chords in its lyrical sections before a brass group came to the front of the stage to play Dixie In Bavaria (Dave Baker, Pol Stone): despite the expected oompah element, there was far more Dixie than Bavaria!  A selection from Cats (Andrew Lloyd-Webber) bridged the gap until Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame (arranged by Paul Jennings) rocked the first half to a close.
The Battle Of Britain (Ron Goodwin) marched into the second half, leading to a gentle medley of familiar melodies arranged by Warren Baker, Salute To Bob Hope.  The jazzy Birdland (Joe Zawinul, arranged by Bob Lowden) showcased the Band playing solidly as a unit.  Jaime Texidor’s Amparito Roca brought a touch of sunny Spain to a dismal autumn day, following which A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square (Eric Maschwitz, Manning Sherwin), sung beautifully by Polly Green, took us all back to London during the Blitz.  Dies Irae (Guiseppe Verdi) closed the concert, and this small young Band filled the theatre with a glorious full, rich, dramatic sound in one of the most impressive first concerts of the year which I can recall.
Special mention goes to guest drummer Richard Wilson, essential to much of the concert.
Martyn Stroud conducted, and Michael Arnell compered with a personal musical touch.

IW Youth Concert Band – Summer Concert
Concert Review - Sunday 26th July 2015

On a typical summer Sunday (howling wind, torrential rain), The Isle of Wight Youth Concert Band delivered its Summer Concert to an audience of stalwarts who braved it to Medina Theatre on 26 July.  The concert, themed as Music from Stage and Screen, was tailor-made for movie maniacs like yours truly.
Indiana Jones charged right into the programme leading the Raiders March, followed by a medley of Abba songs from Mamma Mia!  Michael Giacchino’s challenging jazzy 60s retro theme from The Incredibles proved the Band’s quality – you wouldn’t have known how tricky this piece is to play.  Disney Around The World featured songs from over a 50 year spread, and the Oliver medley illustrated how many wonderful songs were in that show and film.  Hans Zimmer’s Mars-inspired music from Gladiator closed the first half.
The Dambusters March started the second half, with a Marvin Hamlisch Showcase showing what a clever, albeit not always straightforward, melodicist he was.  The second of 3 pieces by John Williams, Hymn To The Fallen (from Saving Private Ryan) showed that the Band can do elegiac as easily as bombastic: it finished with an exquisite chord, so delicate that you could hear the breath underlying the notes.  The main themes from Jurassic Park were next, followed by what, for me, was the highlight of the concert – Polly Green, Grace Green and Katie Malabar in full Andrews Sisters mode, singing Don’t Sit Under The Apple Tree in gorgeous 3-part harmony.  The rollicking percussion-based Pirates Of The Caribbean suite was a dramatic closer.
Josh Attrill was presented with the Musician Of The Year trophy by Doug Stephen of Shanklin Rotary Club, and certificates and goblets were presented to four leavers – Josh, Charlotte Smith, Natalie Smith, and Michael Glover.
Martyn Stroud conducted, and Michael Arnell compered with cinematic savoir-faire.

IW Youth Concert Band – Spring Concert
Concert Review - Sunday 3rd May 2015

In times of austerity, voluntary organisations help to fill the gaps left by reorganisation of public funding.  The Isle Of Wight Youth Concert Band is one of a number of voluntary groups which work hand-in-hand with formal music education to offer wider experience to young musicians.  The smaller and younger Band (and correspondingly smaller audience) seen at the Spring Concert at Medina Theatre on Sunday 3rd May inevitably reflected a contraction in formal musical education during these straitened times.  Even so, the concert was excellent – remarkably so considering the youth and relative inexperience of the Band.
The Standard Of St George (Kenneth Alford) kicked off proceedings jauntily, and the accomplished musicianship of Hattie Pusey, playing the Trumpet solo from the 2nd movement of Haydn’s 2nd Trumpet Concerto, showed the value of youngsters escaping from constricted musical horizons.  Wayne Robinson’s arrangement of Cole Porter – A Symphonic Portrait was lush and full, and old Band favourite Elsa’s Procession To The Cathedral from Lohengrin (Richard Wagner, arranged by Frank Erickson) was stately and dignified.  The first half concluded with a selection from Miss Saigon (Claude Michel-Schonberg), a good showcase for the entire band.
The horizontal trumpet fanfares of  Charles Gounod’s March Militaire A La Ronde started the second half, and the sheer fun of the oompah-driven melodrama of Lustspiel (Bela Keler), another band favourite, led into Jerry Novak’s slick arrangement of Sinatra In Concert, linking several of Old Blue Eyes’ standards. Time Remembered (Philip Sparke) was a quite lovely, lyrical, elegiac piece, followed by All By Myself: melody by Sergei Rachmaninov, hijacked by Eric Carmen, arranged by Henk Hogestein, and sung beautifully by Polly Green.  The concert concluded with Mars, the 1st movement from the Planets Suite (Gustav Holst), a dramatic finale if, perhaps, a little downbeat.
Brenda Hayles awarded the Mike Hayles Memorial Shield to Josh Attrill, the players’ player of the year.
Martyn Stroud conducted, and Michael Arnell compered with Tempestuous whiskers.

IW Youth Concert Band – Special Concert
Concert Review - Sunday 1st March 2015
The IW Youth Concert Band presented its annual Special Concert at Medina Theatre on Sunday 1st March 2015, featuring some superb performances by talented young Island musicians.  The Special Concert has been part of the band’s concert season for some years now, and focuses on soloists and small groups as well as items for the full band.
The first half of the concert opened with the full band playing the spirited American march Blaze-Away! (Holzmann), before the audience was treated to the first of the solo performances.  Cornet player Aaron Snow performed Tango Argentino (Adam Gorb), a lively Latin themed piece with piano accompaniment by Alana Spence.  Aaron was then joined by the rest of the cornet and trumpet section in a rendition of Harold Walters’ Trumpets Wild, accompanied by the full band.  This was then followed by clarinettist Joshua Attrill with his solo performance of “The Great George Gershwin”, a fantastic collection of many of Gershwin’s most popular tunes, accompanied at the piano by Martin Dover.
Musical director Martyn Stroud picked up his trombone to perform as part of a quartet playing Tauern Waltzer (Bierbauch), a pretty waltz written in the tradition Tyrolean style, before the full band ended the first half with music with the catchy Omens of Love (Hirotaka Izumi), a 1980s pop release by the Japanese band “The Square” and used widely in Japanese television broadcasting as theme music for various programmes.
The second half of the concert opened with a “Big Band” feature, with several members playing alternative instruments.  They performed three pieces in this line-up; Quincy Jones’ Soul Bossa Nova (well known for its inclusion in the soundtracks to the Austin Powers movies), Glenn Miller’s famous Moonlight Serenade and finishing with a contemporary take on Gershwin’s Summertime.  Trumpet player Hattie Pusey then swapped her trumpet for a microphone and sung a pleasing rendition of This is the Life, a hit for Amy MacDonald in 2007, accompanied on the acoustic guitar by band trombonist Chris Taylor.
A further ensemble performance then came in the shape of a saxophone quintet, comprising Atalanta and Miranda Hersey, Alana Spence, Joshua Attrill and Charissa Bartram, with their jazzy version of Bad Luck by Peter Laine, one of the staff arrangers for the Vienna Big Band Swing Machine.  Atalanta Hersey then swapped back to her usual oboe to perform a solo with the full band; this being Ennio Morricone’s Gabriel’s Oboe from the soundtrack to the 1986 film, “The Mission”, which is always a very popular piece with audiences.  The final solo performance came from Polly Green, whose vocal rendition of A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square, accompanied by full band, was very well received.
The finale was Frank Erickson’s quick-paced Overture Jubiloso, performed by the full band with great gusto and bringing the afternoon to a close, leaving the audience looking forward to the next band concert at Medina Theatre on Sunday 3rd May (2.30pm).  Musical Director Martyn Stroud also acted as compere during the concert, and presented the Founders Trophy for most improved musician to Katie Ball (Clarinet).  Band Chairman Brian Saunders announced during the raffle that Cowes Rotary Club had made a £450 donation towards band funds, which was very gratefully received.

Cowes Rotary Club Charity Concert 
Concert Review - Sunday 1st February 2015
By Lesley Myland

Cowes Rotary Club and The IW Youth Concert Band joined forces to stage a special charity concert at Medina Theatre on Sunday 1st February 2015.  The Club has supported the Band for many years, and the Band wanted to return the compliment, so the concert was in aid of the Rotary Trust Fund, which helps many causes for young people on the Island.

We were taken through a huge variety of music by this talented band of Island youngsters; starting with the march Colonel Bogey (Kenneth Alford), followed by Stephen Sondheim’s Send in the Clowns and a catchy Japanese 80’s pop song Omens of Love (Hirotaka Izumi).

The Junior Band, much depleted by illness, performed 3 pieces as an interlude with the help of some of their senior colleagues. Their choice of pieces, Raiders March (John Williams), Mission Impossible (Lalo Schifrin) and Tequila (Chuck Rio) were extremely well performed.

The Senior Band ended the first half with a Spanish march, Amparito Roca (Jaime Texidor) followed by an emotional selection from Les Miserables (Alain Boublil) – as ever it couldn’t fail to produce a few sobs from the audience.

The second half of the concert opened with a “Big Band” feature, with several members playing alternative instruments.  They performed four pieces in this line-up; Duke Ellington’s Satin Doll and Take the A Train, as well as Santana’s Smooth and Van Morrison’s Moondance.  None of the Youth Band would have been around when the originals were popular, but they still managed to create the grace and panache which the likes of Duke Ellington had intended for their music.

The Junior Band provided another second half interlude; giving their own Big Band rendition of Tuxedo Junction made famous by Glenn Miller, Henry Mancini’s Pink Panther and a selection from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast.  This was then followed by the Senior Band with a selection from Oklahoma, which was very evocative and sympathetically done.  You could hear members of the audience singing along and remembering those words.  Band Oboist Polly Green followed with a beautiful and professional vocal rendition of The Wind Beneath My Wings, made famous by many artistes including Bette Midler.

The finale of Trevor Sharpe’s Fanfare and Soliloquy, performed by both Senior and Junior bands together, was a fitting end to a wonderful concert, leaving us looking forward to the next IW Youth Concert Band concerts at Medina Theatre on 1st March and 3rd May, 2.30pm!

An audience of over 150 came along to support – a great turnout for a freezing February day when the fireside and the TV may have seemed more attractive.   Regular compere Michael Arnell provided continuity with his customary blend of wit, charm and funny poems, while the incredibly accomplished Martyn Stroud conducted, cajoled, co-ordinated and even played trombone as part of the ‘Big Band’ ensemble!



Christmas Concert
Sunday 14th December 2014
Medina Theatre
by Neil Welch

Medina Theatre was packed for the Isle of Wight Youth Concert Band’s Christmas concert.  The theme of Snowmen was reflected in the stage setting, and a Christmassy atmosphere was reflected in the programme.
The concert opened with Overture To A Winter Festival (James Curnow) and continued with March: Opus 99 (Sergei Prokofiev).  Described by conductor Martyn Stroud as “A Russian Knees Up Mother Brown”, this was taken at breakneck speed.  After that, the measured pace of Maurice Ravel’s Bolero was rather more relaxed.
The Senior Band was replaced on stage by the Junior Band, who played four pieces: I Swear (Gary Baker, Frank Myers), Tuxedo Junction (Erskine Hawkins, Bill Johnson, Julian Dash, arr. Stroud), Queen In Concert (John Deacon, Freddie Mercury, Brian May arr. Jay Bocock) and Merry Christmas Everybody (Neville “Noddy” Holder).  With its youngest member only 8 years old, the Junior Band members impressed greatly, with a performance of professionalism and polish beyond their years.
The Senior Band returned with Veni Immanuel (arranged by Philip Sparke) before concluding the first half with A Home Alone Christmas (John Williams arr. Paul Lavender)
After the interval the Band premiered Back Home For Christmas (Welch arr. Stroud) in a performance which delighted your reviewer.  Andy Williams’ hit The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year (Edward Pola, George Wyle) was followed by music from the film Polar Express (Alan Silvestri).
The Junior Band joined the Seniors on stage for a finale which started with Carols.  The audience was in good voice for Good King Wenceslas, Ding Dong Merrily On High, and Christmas Swingalong (Derek Ashmore).  The glittering A Christmas Festival (Leroy Anderson) concluded the printed programme, but a Christmas concert would not be complete without another Leroy Anderson piece, Sleigh Ride, as encore, with its trademark conclusion of horse whickering on trumpet.
It should be mentioned that, even though many members of the Band had been playing in Christmas concerts for other Bands, ensembles, and in rehearsals for days previously, there was no sign of tiredness: the Band’s sound was as as robust and accomplished as ever.
Gwen Hawkins presented the Friends Of The Band award to Martin Rayner for services to the Band.  His daughter Beth accepted it in his absence.  Martyn Stroud presented the Keith Underwood Cup for Junior Band musicianship to Jamie Smith (tuba).  The compere wore a pine-cone tie in the belief that this would be amusing.

Autumn Concert
Sunday 19th October 2014
Medina Theatre, Newport
by Neil Welch

Over the last 20 years I must have attended, as parent and reviewer, 80 or more concerts by the Isle Of Wight Youth Concert Band. I cannot recall one where the Band was at such low strength as it was on Sunday 19th October (Medina Theatre). Depleted by the summer exodus of senior members to higher education, there were barely 30 players on stage. Coupled with an absence of adult supporting players it was clear that this was a very young and inexperienced Band,: the diminutive stature of many members reinforced this.

As a consequence, the Band sounded neither as full nor as polished as usual. Paradoxically, they impressed all the more: it was an education to hear just how good they were without the level of support which is usually woven into the body of people on stage.

The programme was challenging, yet friendly to a band which was light at the bass end. The march Royal Salute (Richard Waterer) was crisp, and the main theme from The Big Country (Jerome Moross) showed off the woodwinds well. Attention moved among Band sections in the Fiddler On The Roof Medley (Jerry Bock), but there was always good balance. Clare Grundman’s English Suite - a new piece to me - was lovely, as was Polly Green’s singing in One Moment In Time (Albert Hammond and John Bettis), before Fanfare And Soliloquy (Trevor Sharpe) finished the first half.

The march from Gustav Holst’s A Moorside Suite started the second half before the Coronation Scot (Vivian Ellis) took us on a railway journey. Manilow Magic (Barry Manilow, arranged by Larry Norred) seemed to concentrate on less well-known songs. Sabre Dance (Aram Khachaturian) was taken at breakneck speed, by contrast to which Hans Zimmer’s music from the film Gladiator (which seemed closely related to Holst’s Mars at times) was almost relaxing. Finlandia (Jean Sibelius) brought the concert to a close.

Martyn Stroud conducted, and Michal Arnell compered with elf-like exuberance.

One of the reasons why the Band seemed somewhat depleted is likely to be the gradual attrition of the budget for musical tuition in education funding. This, and hard times generally, feeds through into audience numbers: there were more empty seats than usual. This is a shame because, if you weren’t there, you missed a treat.


A Summer Proms Concert
Sunday 27th July 2014
Medina Theatre, Newport

A very warm audience attended the Isle of Wight Youth Concert Band’s Summer Proms Concert at Medina Theatre on Sunday 27th July.

The understated but regal march State Occasion (Robert Farnon) was followed by Leroy Anderson’s Bugler’s Holiday, a delightful piece in which the 10-strong trumpet section stood and fired triple-tongued arpeggios at the audience. Elizabethan Serenade (Ronald Binge) showed very good dynamic balance between different sections of the Band. The lyrical Nimrod from Edward Elgar’s Enigma Variations preceded a piece called, simply, Blue Interlude (Lorine). This melodic blues was well played by soloist Dominic Jones. The first half closed with the complete William Tell Overture (Gioachino Rossini) and, as always, the transition from bucolic tranquillity to the fanfare which opens the (whisper it) Lone Ranger section was truly spine-tingling.

Goff Richards’ crisp, jaunty march Barnard Castle opened proceedings after the interval, and Concert Prelude followed. This piece by Philip Sparke contains little in the way of formal melody but much of melodic interest. Returning alumnus Alana Spence was the second soloist, delivering a beautifully rendered Concertino For Clarinet (Carl Maria von Weber).

Presentations were made to leaving members Lily McCraith, Rhiannon Denness, Chan Ford, Dominic Jones, Harry Malabar, Dylan Boyd and Katie Malabar.

The concert closed with the well-loved “Proms” section – Hubert Parry’s stirring Jerusalem, a musical setting to William Blake’s words, Henry Wood’s Fantasia On British Sea Songs (featuring the ever-faster Hornpipe – a brilliant band performance – and Rule Britannia) and, finally, Edward Elgar’s Pomp And Circumstance No 1, with soprano (and one-time band member) Tressa Lambert leading the audience in singing. This section was, as usual, filled with flags, balloons, and moments to make your heart swell and your throat choke up.

Atalanta Hersey was presented with the Player of the Year Award.

Martyn Stroud conducted. Michael Arnell’s between-piece chats included treating the audience to a moving and personal World War I related anecdote, as he compered with boundless enthusiasm.

Well done to Euphonium player Dominic Marsh who spent last week playing in the National Children's Brass Band.



A Spring Concert
Sunday 11th May 2014
Medina Theatre, Newport

Playing to an audience depleted by competing events, the Isle Of Wight Youth Concert Band’s Spring Concert (Medina Theatre, Sunday 11 May) was a cracker.

The unpredictable melody of opening march Thundercrest (Eric Osterling) got things off to an interesting start. Warren Barker’s arrangement of George Gershwin’s Strike Up The Band was full of multiple moods and tempi, and continued a theme of music not always going where you expected it to. This also held true for Studio One (Glen Osser), which jumped between full band and unaccompanied solo instruments, and fast and slow sections. The measured Adagio from “Concierto De Aranjuez” (Joaquin Rodrigo) was, by contrast, much more conventional, as was the selection of John Williams’ soundtrack music from Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom. The first half closed with the theme from The Dam Busters (Eric Coates), its jaunty opening section giving way to the dramatic, almost regal, section which closed the first half perfectly.

The oompah flavour and saucy trombone answer-backs of Julius Fucik’s Florentiner March started the second half, followed by Lone Star Celebration (James Curnow), where a climactic opening was followed by a rather meandering central section before a closing climax. Horse And Buggy (Leroy Anderson) had the audience riding along in the spring sunshine before arriving in the gloomy catacombs below the Paris Opera for a selection of Andrew Lloyd-Webber’s music from Phantom Of The Opera, arranged (again) by Warren Barker, and kudos to him for finishing the selection with the progression of odd and rather creepy chords at the conclusion of Music Of The Night. Polly Green sang The Greatest Love Of All (Linda Masser and Michael Creed), postponed from the first half in order to sort out a mismatch between lyrics and the Band’s arrangement. The concert closed with the Spanish-flavoured Fandango by a composer with the unlikely name of Frank Perkins.

It goes without saying that the performances by all concerned were peerless.

The Players’ Player Award was presented to Hattie Pusey, and the Band presented a gift to theatre technician Darren Smith who, after many years of giving service to the Band (and uncounted other performers) is moving on to the King’s Theatre, Southsea.

Steve and Esther Knight (Mayor and Mayoress of Shanklin) were guests of honour. Martyn Stroud conducted, and Michael Arnell compered with boundless enthusiasm.

A Special Concert
Sunday 2nd March 2014
Medina Theatre, Newport

In times of austerity, perceived luxuries such as music lessons for the kids are often early victims in domestic budgeting. It was therefore pleasing to see a lot of new (and young) faces at the Isle of Wight Concert Band’s Special Concert at Medina Theatre on Sunday 2nd March. Bad weather saw more empty audience seats than usual, but there was still a good showing for these untried youngsters. Any concerns about whether a challenging programme would be too much for them was quickly laid to rest – the biggest difficulty they encountered was shirtsleeves being too long!

Death Or Glory (Robert Browne Hall), the march of the 17th/21st Lancers (also known as **** Or Bust) was more upbeat than its title would suggest and started things off well, followed by Where No Man Has Gone Before, a space-themed selection from film and TV, arranged by Paul Jennings. Added into the programme was I Swear (Gary Baker and Frank J Myers), played by an ensemble comprising the very youngest (and smallest) players, with conductor and compere Martyn Stroud adding trombone. Bela Bartok’s piano solo Allegro Barbaro was not the most audience-friendly piece of the day, with snatches of uncomfortable melody swimming upwards out of a sea of angry texture, but Dylan Boyd played it magnificently. Much more accessible was The Wind Beneath My Wings (Jeff Silbar and Larry Henley), sung beautifully by Polly Green. Harry’s Song (Chris Dawe), played as a trombone solo by - appropriately enough Harry Malabar, sounded like the theme from a 1960s caper movie, and the first half came to a close with Big Bands In Concert, a medley of swing classics arranged by Bob Lowden.

The Jaguar, a march by brass band composer Goff Richards, pleased with its quirky melody, and the Overture from Lustspiel (Béla Kéler) is an enjoyable piece which the Band revisits often. Many familiar melodies featured in Mancini Magic, a selection of Henry Mancini pieces arranged by Trevor Sharpe, following which most of the Band enjoyed a bit of a break for the first of two big band items, Moanin’ (Bobby Timmons). Take The A Train (Billy Strayhorn) also went down very well, and prompted the idea of a vocal swing spot in a future concert. The closing selection was Gustav Holst’s Second Suite In F For Millitary Band in which various folk melodies are woven together, with the sea shanty-like Dargason competing and ultimately reconciling with Greensleeves in a thrilling and moving conclusion to the concert.

This young and inexperienced Band has nothing to prove: they were first rate.

Dominic Marsh was awarded the Founders Trophy for the year’s most promising player.



An Christmas Concert

Sunday 15th December 2013

Medina Theatre, Newport


A capacity audience made an early start on getting into the Christmas mood at the Isle of Wight Youth Concert Band’s Christmas Concert at Medina Theatre on 15 December, helped by a cosy festive stage setting. Kicking off with conductor Martyn Stroud’s march Season’s Greetings, the Band then tackled the most challenging piece in the concert, the overture to Candide (Leonard Bernstein).  Carols followed, after which the senior band took a breather. 18 young members of the Junior Band made a welcome appearance, taking centre stage with Coaster Ride (Mordent), music from Harry Potter (John Williams), Livin’ La Vida Loca (Desmond Child and Draco Rosa), and Winter Wonderland (Felix Bernard), all played very well.  The senior band then closed the first half with two selections from film soundtracks, both of which were brilliantly delivered and well received:  Michael Giacchino’s jazzy theme from Disney/Pixar’s The Incredibles, and music from The Polar Express (coincidentally on TV at this exact time) by Alan Silvestri and Glen Ballard. The second half opened with Overture To A Winter Festival (James Curnow), following which the audience enjoyed the ever popular suite of short dance pieces from Tchaikovsky’s Christmas ballet The Nutcracker.  

After It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year (Edward Pola and George Wyle), made popular by Andy Williams, the Junior Band returned to the stage, joining the senior band for a finale of singalong fun – Deck The Halls (arranged by James Curnow), Christmas Swingalong (arranged by Derek Ashmore) and A Christmas Festival (arranged by Leroy Anderson).  The encore, Leroy Anderson’s Sleigh Ride, had many of the audience giving a standing ovation as the concert closed. Martyn Stroud presented the Keith Underwood Memorial Trophy for Junior Band members to percussionist Daniel Binsley-Smith, and Band Secretary Jill Lock presented the Friends’ Award to Rachael and Roger Weldon. Michael Arnell compered with goodwill to all men.


An Autumn Concert

Sunday 13th October 2013

Medina Theatre, Newport


The Autumn Concert given every year by the Isle of Wight Youth Concert Band is always something of a challenge – the first concert in the academic year features a band shorn of its most experienced players who have, hopefully, been replaced with new – but inexperienced – recruits.  This year’s concert (Medina Theatre, Sunday 13 October) was no exception: there were many new faces on stage.   All trepidation was put to one side as the Band launched into a crisp rendition of Kenneth Alford’s march The Standard Of St George.  This contrasted with the more sedate Adagio In G Minor (Tomaso Albinoni) which followed.  After a selection from Cats (Andrew Lloyd-Webber), Atalanta Hersey played the haunting solo Gabriel’s Oboe (Ennio Morricone) from the film The  Mission.  Band and audience favourite Kalinka (Ivan Larionov, arranged by Ray Woodfield) preceded the final piece in the first half, Mars from Gustav Holst’s Planets Suite.  This dramatic and menacing piece of music in 5:4 was challenging for an untried Band, but they delivered it perfectly.   Aaron Copeland’s stirring Fanfare For The Common Man started part two and, as usual, it sent shivers up the spine.  Disney’s animated movie Pocahontas provided a selection by composer Alan Menken, following which the Band tackled the changing moods in Alfred Reed’s A Symphonic Prelude, based on the American folk song Black Is The Colour Of My True Love’s Hair.  Katie Malabar and Polly Green put down their instruments to offer an attractive vocal duet of I Know Him So Well from the musical Chess (music by Abba’s Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus and lyrics by Tim Rice), and this was followed by Hymn To The Fallen, the poignant theme at the end of Saving Private Ryan by Steven Spielberg’s long-time musical collaborator, John Williams.  The closing piece was Lux Aeterna by US composer Elliott Del Borgo who died earlier this year.  Despite a sterling performance by the Band this, for me, was the only piece which didn’t really impress, being little more than a single motif endlessly reworked without actually going anywhere.  The variations in reworking, however, are what provided the band with a challenge, and they coped wonderfully.  

Band Manager Ben Bartram presented the Bob Sheppard Award for service to the Band to his wife (and Conductor Martyn Stroud’s daughter) Charissa.  Far from being as nepotistic as it might appear, the award was well-deserved due to the administrative burden she took on board at a time of extreme work pressure for her husband.  

Michael Arnell compered with Pygmalian Higgensianism.


A Summer Concert

Sunday 28th July 2013

Medina Theatre, Newport


The Isle of Wight Youth Concert Band’s Summer Concert kicked off in grand style with Glorious Victory, a march by Walter Kendall.  This was followed by a selection of music by Claude-Michel Schonberg from Miss Saigon, the stage musical which updated Madame Butterfly to the Vietnam War, and which followed on from Schonberg’s Les Miserables.  After that lengthy blow, the much shorter sea shanty Portsmouth (in an attractive arrangement by Michael Brand) gave the different sections a rest one by one as it moved round the Band.  Round Midnight (Thelonious Monk and Cootie Williams) featured a flugelhorn solo from Emma Cusworth, and evoked images of mist swirling round dockside back alleys as a fedora-wearing detective watches illegal cargo being unloaded, in black and white of course.  The familiar strains of radio stalwart Elizabethan Serenade (Ronald Binge) preceded a Band favourite, the stately and majestic Elsa’s Procession To The Cathedral (Richard Wagner).   The second half started with Coburger March by Joseph Haydn’s younger brother, Johann Michael Haydn.  Reginald Heath’s Andante & Scherzo followed, a euphonium solo beautifully played by Oscar Pusey.  Ivor Stanley’s Georgian Rumba was the second piece in the programme which would have been very familiar to radio listeners.   Disney Around The World (arranged by James Christensen) was a medley which, pleasingly, included some sections which were less well known than the usual Disney suspects.  The next piece, Atlantic Avenue (James Hosay) had a big band swing feel, but with a distinctly contemporary edge to it.  And, finally Dmitri Shostakovich’s Festive Overture brought the proceedings to a close, a striking piece beginning with huge chords from the lower brass, pressing on to a satisfying full Band climax.   The Band played well throughout, but the big orchestral style pieces – the Miss Saigon selection, Elsa and the Shostakovich – showed them at their best.The Band bade farewell to Millie Pusey, Emma Cusworth, Sophie Wrixon and Victoria Bishop as they move on to higher education.   Cowes Rotary Club made a donation of £500, accepted by second generation (Junior) Band member Isabelle Wilson.  This has already been applied towards the new drum kit used in the concert.   John Fleming, President of Shanklin Rotary Club, presented the Musician Of The Year Award to Millie Pusey together with a cheque for £100.Martyn Stroud conducted, and Michael Arnell compered with Noel-ish Cowardice.


A Spring Concert

Sunday 12th May 2013

Medina Theatre, Newport


An enthusiastic audience enjoyed the Spring Concert given by the Isle of Wight Youth Concert Band at Medina Theatre on 12 May 2013, with a programme which included a lot of old friends. Kenneth Alford’s pieces often feature in concerts, but his Old Panama, the opening march, was relatively unfamiliar, albeit well received by the audience.  More familiar was Franz von Suppe’s Poet And Peasant Overture, given a full blooded performance by the Band.  John Barry’s theme from the film Born Free preceded the Post Horn Galop (Herman Koenig) in which Band stalwart Maria Nicholson delighted the audience.  The first half closed with Themes From 007, arranged by Robert Lowden. After the interval, the Band opened with the Ostholsteiner Marsch, originally composed by Musical Director Martyn Stroud on the occasion of a Band concert tour to Germany many years ago.  Warren Barker’s arrangement of A Marvin Hamlisch Showcase shows how much Hamlisch is missed – Nobody Does It Better indeed!  The trombone section of Harry Malabar, Dylan Boyd and Ben Bartram took centre stage for Frolic For Trombones (Reginald Heath), and clarinet and euphonium were featured in Malaguena from Ernesto Lecuona’s Andalucia Suite, which transported the audience to the warmth of Spain for a short while.  The Band demonstrated great control in dealing with the wistful gentleness of Cavatina (Stanley Myers), the theme from the film The Deer Hunter, and the concert finished in exciting style with the challenge of the Prelude And Allegro from Stuart Johnson’s Sinfonietta being met in a brilliant performance. The Player’s Award was presented to flautist Samantha Smart. Stewart Murray compered.


By Neil Welsh & Mary Thomsett


A Special Concert

Sunday 10th March 2013

Medina Theatre, Newport


The Isle Of Wight Youth Concert Band had a great idea: they would ask Jan Maley - Founding Member, long-time helper, ex-Band Manager and committee member - to pick the music for a concert which was effectively a tribute to and acknowledgement of his great contribution to the Band’s history.  The programme for the Special Concert at Medina Theatre Sunday 10 March was therefore full of familiar old favourites.  These, of course, were not necessarily very familiar to the young members of the current Band, who were joined by a number of Jan’s old Bandmates. The concert opened with Kenneth Alford’s Colonel Bogey march, followed by the Light Cavalry Overture (Franz von Suppé) which featured a lovely moment when strident brass spiralled down to breathy woodwind.  Flashdance! What A Feeling (Gorgio Moroder) is familiar from a current TV advert, and this preceded Send In The Clowns from Stephen Sondheim’s A Little Night Music where the arranger’s jazzy Vegas-style variation at the end seemed not to fit the melancholy nature of the piece.  The massed trumpets (nine of them!) had an opportunity to shine in High On A Hill (Alan Moorehouse), following which March Militaire La Ronde (Charles Gounod) and Maurice Jarre’s theme music from Lawrence Of Arabia had a close-fought contest to close the first half (Lawrence won). The second half started with Amparito Roca (Jaime Texidor) followed by Jerry Nowak’s arrangement, Sinatra In Concert, of several songs made famous by Old Blue Eyes.  Johann Strauss (the younger)’s Tritsch-Tratsch Polka led to the theme music from Dances With Wolves (John Barry), before the Spanish-flavoured Fandango (Frank Perkins) brought us to the end of the programme. But there was a further treat in store for an audience which was, perhaps, somewhat smaller than it might have been due to hostile weather and Mothering Sunday.  In full highland regalia, Dr Kieran Cooney on bagpipes played a medley of Scottish melodies before he was joined by the Band for the always emotional Highland Cathedral (Ulrich Roever and Michael Korb).  After Dr Cooney bade the audience farewell, so too did the Band as they marched offstage in sections, to the strains of the Cheerio March (Edwin Franko Goldman). The Founders Trophy was awarded to Polly Green (Oboe). Martyn Stroud was Musical Director, and Jan’s old friend Roger Holmes compered with good-natured urbanity. You can view pictures of the concert by clicking here.


By Neil Welch