The National Youth Concert Band is a newly formed not-for-profit organisation offering Britain’s best young musicians performance opportunities in Wind Orchestras and smaller ensembles during a week long residential course. Founded by Jonathan Parkes, Kathryn Wood and Jonathan Watkins in 2018, our first course was held during Easter 2019 at the Old Swinford Hospital school in Stourbridge. The annual course will be held in some of the country’s leading boarding schools with concerts in concert venues around the country and is open to musicians aged 11-18 with a minimum Grade 6 standard. The aspiring young musicians will be tutored and conducted by some of the leading professional musicians and educators in the country - we have staff from professional orchestras, the West End and leading freelance musicians. Our inspirational conductor and staff are class leading musicians and educators in their fields ensuring our young musicians will have a memorable week with us.
The main band rehearsals will make up the bulk of the week. The young musicians arrive on the first day and after registration are shown to their rooms. We always accommodate our musicians in rooms with similar aged youngsters and with friends if possible, although we do encourage mixing with newcomers! We were delighted to see all the new friendships blossom on our first course during Easter.
Specialist sectional tutors will take intensive rehearsals during the first two or three days and we have lead wind, brass and percussion tutors on hand throughout the course. We always ensure we have highly qualified musicians on the pastoral staff and they love to help when needed!
As part of our holistic approach to the week, we hold a solo and chamber music concert when our wonderful young players can sign up to play and be accompanied by Hannah Mitchell, our accompanist in residence. The chamber groups mainly consist of our younger players as it will give them an opportunity to play in ensembles they may not have featured in before, such as a wind or brass quintet or maybe a saxophone quartet. The older members of the course can use this time for extra revision and study time as we’re very aware how stressful this time can be with GCSEs and A-levels on the horizon!
We also offer other performance opportunities during the course. Every year we will offer a performance workshop with either one of our incredible team of tutors or a visiting professional. This year we had sessions led by Dom Childs and Chris Parkes. We also offered a jazz workshop led by Jonny Vaux (one of our incredible pastoral team). Down time is another hugely important part of the course.We have a movie night, games night with karaoke and sports events during the week. Our young musicians will make friends for life at NYCB.
Our Musical Director Jonathan Parkes grew up in the brass band world and played Principal Trombone for the Rotherham Schools Youth Brass Band and the National Youth Brass Band of Great Britain before going on to study at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester under Chris Houlding and Andrew Berryman.
Whilst at the RNCM he started his career as a freelance trombonist working with the Halle Orchestra and went on to work with all the professional orchestras in the North West of England, including the Manchester Camerata, BBC Philharmonic, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, Opera North and Northern Ballet. In 2004 he played Principal Trombone for the Philharmonia of the Nations in Germany, touring Europe and South Africa. Jonathan has taught all over the Greater Manchester region since 2001 and began tutoring and directing music courses shortly after and began conducting in 2005.
His first full time appointment came in 2011 when he was appointed musical director of the Dobcross Youth Brass Band. The following year he was appointed MD of the National Children’s Wind Orchestra – a prestigious residential course performing concerts in venues such as the Cadogan Hall, Royal College of Music and Saffron Hall. In 2016 he was delighted to be appointed Musical Director of the Werneth Concert Band.
Course Director Kathryn Wood’s day job is as a translator and languages tutor, but she also has a broad range of experience in running music courses and events, both in the UK and abroad. This includes:
- Orchestral Manager for the National Children’s Wind and Chamber Orchestras (2014 – 2018)
- Conference Producer for a London-based FTSE 250 company (2015 – 2017)
- Volunteering at a music school in Peru, running a variety of musical groups for children and young adults (2012 – 2013)
- Executive Committee for Durham University Orchestral Society (2011 – 2012)
Kathryn is also a keen violinist, playing regularly with the Stevenage Symphony Orchestra and working with the committee to arrange concerts.
Assistant Course Director and Senior Tutor in Brass Jonny Watkins has been playing the trombone since the age of 7. He studied at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama with Eric Crees and Simon Wills and with Don Lucas at Boston University during which time he toured extensively with the European Union Youth Orchestra and won the International Trombone Association Quartet Competition with the Spitfire Trombone Quartet. From 2011-13 Jonny was the Principal Trombone in the Hong Kong Sinfonietta and, in the 2017 season, was Associate Principal Trombone in the National Centre for Performing Arts Orchestra in Beijing, China. He has trialled for positions in many of the UK’s leading orchestras, including the BBC Philharmonic, Royal Philhamonic Orchestra and the Royal Ballet Sinfonia.
Jonny was the trombone section tutor for both the National Youth Wind Ensemble of Great Britain and the Hampshire County Youth Wind Ensemble and has led masterclasses at the Hong Kong Baptist University and twice at the Conservatorio Profesional de Musica Xoan Montes in Lugo, Spain.
In his spare time, Jonny can be found enjoying a good pub quiz or screaming at the TV in frustration when his beloved Arsenal are playing...