For the first time ever at Abraham Darby, all three bands - Showband, Junior Jazz and Senior Jazz - gained the top Platinum Awards at the finals of the National Concert Band Festival of Great Britain.
The Showband, Junior Jazz Band & Senior Jazz Band all competed in the finals of the national festival held at the Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester on Saturday 13th April 2019. The National Concert Band Festival has been running for over 30 years and it provides an opportunity for both wind bands and jazz bands to perform at a national platform and receive top level constructive musical feedback from the best musicians within the band fraternity.
Abraham Darby has participated in the festival for approximately 20 years and has received much triumphal gain across that time. Each ensemble had already qualified for the finals from the regional round which was held back in November at Abraham Darby and were required to perform a programme for at least 15 minutes.
Directed by Rachel Morton, Abraham Darby’s Head of Music, Showband’s repertoire included Philip Sparke’s ‘Jubiloso’; ‘Finlandia’ by Sibelius & Brain Balmages’ ‘Beyond the Summit’. They performed amongst another nine school wind bands and the adjudicator commented “the performance was excellent - lovely pace - and shaped with drama. It is a privilege to hear you play”.
It was the second appearance for Abraham Darby’s Junior Jazz Band at the finals and they started their programme with ‘Burritos to Go’ by Victor Lopez; Larry Neeck’s ‘After Sunset’; ‘Funk Zone’ by Beach & Shutack & Larry Baton’s‘ Abracadabra’. After the performance the band had to wait a while to find out their result but were overjoyed to be presented with the top platinum certificate. This was the first time in five years they had obtained the top award, directed by Performing Arts Technician & percussion teacher Chris Ruston.
Senior Jazz Band were the final ensemble of the day to perform and they played an exciting programme consisting of 70’s funk jazz classic ‘Pick up the Pieces’ by Lopez; ‘Alianza’ by Eric Morales; Sondheim’s ‘Send in the Clowns’ and Radiohead’s ‘Bodysnatchers’. The adjudicator’s commented that “it was a great end to the day and that senior jazz were an excellent band”. The band were thrilled to be given the top platinum award. Due to this being the third consecutive occasion to gain a platinum, the band’s director Tom Gledhill, Abraham Darby music teacher, was presented with the outstanding consistent achievement award.
All 58 band members were excited as they realised that this was the first time that three ensembles appearing in the finals of the National Concert Band Festival had all won platinum. 18 musicians were experiencing the festival for the first time and a record number of parents and supporters travelled to Manchester to hear the performances.