Excitement mounts as countdown to NYBBS summer course nears completion

Monday 26 July 2021

The anticipation and excitement is reaching a crescendo as the first SBBA-organised live event since the start of the pandemic 16 months ago is in the final stages of preparation.

The National Youth Brass Band of Scotland (NYBBS) residential summer course is just a week away, starting on Sunday (1 August) for six days at the Strathallan School in Perthshire.

Just over 100 young people have registered for the annual course following last year’s enforced cancellation due to Coronavirus restrictions on social gatherings.

SBBA president and NYBBS course coordinator Carrie Boax is as thrilled as the participants to be hosting the event. She commented: “This year we are celebrating our 63rd annual summer course and, in the Boax household, it feels like we are counting down to Christmas!”

The musical directors of the three NYBBS bands – Alan Fernie (Children’s), John Boax (Reserve) and Ian Porthouse (Senior) – and conductor emeritus Richard Evans have put a great deal of thought into the musical programme for the week and the fruits of the players’ hard work will be evident at the end-of-course summer concert which will be live-streamed from the Strathallan Theatre on Friday 6 August at 6pm.

“Ian Porthouse has been in touch and has intimated he wants the whole week concentrated on ‘making music’,” commented Richard Evans. “He, John Boax and Alan Fernie have chosen repertoire which underlines that intention. This week will be one the young students will remember for a long time – and so will I!”

Course tutors will be Richard Poole, Sheona Wade, Brett Baker, Les Neish, Mark Landon, Gareth Bowman, Phillippa MacDougall, Charlie Farren, Caroline Farren, Stuart Black and Gary Williams.

In addition to full and sectional rehearsals, all players will be given the opportunity to participate in a variety of workshops which are being organised for additional musical development and enjoyment.

“We are also mindful that the social aspect of safely coming together this year will be especially beneficial all our young students and so we have timetabled daily activities to address wellbeing, ranging from daily walks to soft archery and team sports, walk-in movies and quizzes,” Carrie explained.

Strathallan School has been fully risk assessed for the course by SBBA secretary Tom Allan and John Boax. They were reassured that the school, which has been operating as a fully-functional educational establishment since students were allowed to return to classroom learning, has all bases covered when it comes to ensuring the health and safety of everyone under its care.

The course will have in place a bubble system which many of the young people in education will be familiar with. It means that the three bands will be accommodated in three different residential units with musical staff accommodated in a separate wing of one of the boarding houses.

“Strathallan has a stringent set of mitigation measures in place for the protection of its staff and pupils and these will be followed by NYBBS house staff for the duration of the NYBBS course,” said John Boax.

“Furthermore, SBBA has exclusive use of the school this year so keeping our young musicians safe and secure will be that much easier. In previous years, we have shared the premises with NYOS (National Youth Orchestra of Scotland) players and tutors but their absence this year means that social distancing will be that much easier to maintain.

“The bubble system will mean that the timetable for each band will vary slightly. Mealtimes will be staggered, for example, and rehearsal and social times may vary as we ensure the wellbeing and safety of all of our members is given priority.”

The NYBBS summer course is being supported through funding from Creative Scotland.


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Email Nigel Martin: sbbapr@gmail.com