Leavers from the County Youth Choir, County Youth Percussion Ensemble, County Youth Wind Orchestra and County Youth Big Band were celebrated at the recent concert featuring a fantastic variety of gripping music. Many of the students had risen through the ranks of ensembles offered through the music centres in Crawley, Horsham, Worthing and Chichester, and now shared with the audience where the next step would take them.
Gideon Brooks, Principal Trumpet with West Sussex County Youth Orchestra and West Sussex County Youth Big Band, explained, “I have been playing trumpet with the WSMS for nine years and have been a member of the County’s Youth Big Band since it began, and the symphony orchestra for the past 3 years. I have been studying at the Junior Guildhall School of Music while playing with the County’s ensembles. I am glad to be principal trumpet of both the orchestra and the big band as I am leaving West Sussex Music Service and I am going on to continue my studies at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama next year. Thank you very much to WSMS for absolutely everything, I would highly recommend the experience offered to any young, passionate musician.”
The concert began with the County Youth Choir singing a capella behind the black curtains then walking in singing a traditional Ghanian gathering song, delighting the audience, who were then moved and excited in turn until finally being allowed to join in at the end of a Beatles Medley (rather less tunefully than those performing!)
The West Sussex County Youth Percussion Ensemble, conducted by Haydn Walden, then performed the incredibly difficult ‘Quarterion’ by Ron Delt. Virtuoso performances on the marimba, xylophone and 4-mallet vibraphone wowed everyone as the music stretched time repeatedly, constantly changing and unpredictable. Car wheel rims and a 36 inch gong (played with the wrong end of a drum stick) added to the excitement.
Variations on “America” by Charles Ives turned out to be rather patriotic with God Save the Queen the dominant tune, but it was soon obvious to everyone that the West Sussex County Youth Wind Orchestra far preferred playing the Indiana Jones Selection, which they carried off with aplomb. Conductor Ed Hawkins helped them to truly raise the roof!
Two talented students, Rachel Kerry and Maria Snowdon had actually composed pieces played by the West Sussex County Youth Big Band. The band were toe-tappingly awesome as always and will, no doubt, soon be charging far higher prices for professional concerts. Sam Wakeford and Sharon Alfred melted the audience with their mellow voices. It was clear that the whole band was totally enjoying the performance and credit must also go to their band director, Jason Mattias: Jason has played with the National Youth Jazz Orchestra, Her Majesty’s Scots Guards Band where he served nine years performing at many prestigious events and touring the world and many West End Shows before teaching for the West Sussex Music Service. He is still a very active performing musician around the UK.
Some of the Year 13 leavers will be following in his footsteps and becoming professional musicians, though others are planning to study a range of subjects, from Marine Biology to Geography. It was clear to all that none of the students will be leaving music behind as they move on – they are only at the start of a lifelong passion for music.
Article contributed by Sue Schofield, friend of the music service.
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