Last November the Lewis and Harris Youth Concert Band, conducted by Gavin Woods and Callum Watt, qualified for the finals of the Scottish Concert Band Festival.
With Saturday the 16th of March 2019 – the day of the final – firmly on their minds, the young musicians met every Tuesday, rehearsing a programme of different genres including: ‘Fanfare for the common man’, ‘A million dreams’ and ‘Cyclone’ by American composer Michael Ore.
On Friday 15th March a total of 38 pupils from the Nicolson Institute and Tolsta Primary set off in three minibuses and with an equipment van. They had a busy weekend ahead of them with a rehearsal in Trinity Church, Stirling, that evening followed by a stay in Stirling Youth Hostel. The next morning saw a final rehearsal, once again in Trinity Church, before the band made its way to Perth where the finals were being held in the town’s Concert Hall.
Perth Concert Hall is a large venue and one of the biggest the band has every played in, making the performance a daunting prospect especially for some of the younger members. Despite this, the Lewis and Harris Youth Concert Band rose to the occasion and delivered a performance they could be proud of.
A nervous wait ensued with performances from the Orkney Schools’ Concert Band as well as several larger bands from the Central belt, before the competition concluded with the adjudicators’ announcement. All the hard work had paid off; the Lewis and Harris Youth Concert Band won gold!
Gavin Woods, conductor, led their praise: “The standard of the band has increased dramatically over the last two years as a result of their hard work in preparation for the Scottish Concert Band Festival. We are delighted to now have reached gold standard and will look to continue working at this level as the competition’s standards continue to rise.”
It was not all hard work though. Having some spare time before the competition, the band relaxed with a game of ten pin bowling. Despite much bragging by the pupils about their bowling prowess, it was Mr Woods who emerged triumphant. Better luck next time!
A special thanks goes to Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, Tolsta Community Development Ltd and Car Hire Hebrides without whose support the band’s success wouldn’t have been possible.