March 2014: North West musicians flock to Haslingden

MORE than 700 musicians filled the Sixth Form Theatre at Haslingden High School to celebrate the Rossendale regional festival of Music for Youth.

It is the fourth time the school has hosted the celebration which attracts wind bands, big bands, choirs, orchestras, steel pan groups, folk groups and brass bands from all over the North West and as far afield as Bangor in Wales.

In total 22 different ensembles with musicians aged between five and 18 attended. Haslignden High’s own school Wind Band, Brass Band and Big Band performed in the morning session of the festival and the ensembles excelled themselves with outstanding performances.

The school’s Wind Band was the first of the morning session playing ‘Joyance’ by American composer Bruce Pearson. This was followed by ‘Ignite the Night’ featuring our six percussionists by the well-known wind band composer James Swearingham.

The school’s Brass Band who started in traditional manner with a march ‘Death or Glory’ by RB Hall, and their programme concluded with Jimmy Webb’s ‘MacArthur Park’ which pays a nostalgic tribute to an area of Los Angeles.

The final performance of the morning session featured the school’s Big Band who performed the original ‘Fat Cat’, the 1972 funk track ‘Pass the Peas’ and the famous single by Earth Wind and Fire ‘Fantasy’.

Head of Expressive Arts Kevin Gibbs said: “I would like to say well done and thank you to all our fantastic musicians who worked so hard for the festival.

“I would also like to give a special mention to our Big Band soloists Helena Hannah-Shelton, James Turner, Amelia Mansfield, Philip Taylor, Reed Crabtree and Matthew Densfield who performed with the confidence and flair of professional musicians.

“The music mentors Sam Dunkley and Damien Harron were full of praise and gave extremely positive feedback at the conclusion of our session.”

Teachers Mr Gibbs, Jonathan Gleeson, Gavin Peel, students and parents gave up their Sunday to organise and run the festival.

Mr Gibbs added: “We now have to wait and see if any of our groups will be invited to perform at the National Festival of Music for Youth held in the Symphony Hall in Birmingham.”

Before that school musicians will be at the Rochdale Festival of Performing Arts on March 20 and 21 and will play in the school Easter concert on Tuesday April 1.