Members of the various bands from the Abraham Darby Specialist School for the Performing Arts, Madeley, Telford returned on Friday from their performances in the National Festival of Music for Youth at the Birmingham Symphony Hall, with a pair of Highly Commended awards. The Showband received their Highly Commended Award in the School’s section of the National Festival for Music for Youth after being narrowly beaten to the Outstanding Performance Award taken by the Northampton School for Boys Symphonic Winds. The Showband performed Praetorius Variations by James Curnow and played to the customary full house in the Birmingham Symphony Hall. This particular award means that since 1998 the Showband have returned from the National Festival, with a major award with the exception of 2001 in this particular section. In this time the Showband have received six Outstanding Performance Awards (with five being awarded in consecutive years between 2002 until 2006) and three Highly Commended Awards. On the previous day the Senior Brass Band were awarded another Highly Commended Award in the School’s Brass Band Section, which saw them being just edged out by Wardle High School who achieved the Outstanding Performance Award. The Brass Band played Images for Brass composed by the American composer Stephen Bulla, under the baton of Simon Platford, who was conducting the Brass Band for the first time at the National Festival since the departure of their previous conductor Wayne Ruston, at the end of the Autumn Term, last year. Earlier in the week the school was also represented by a further three ensembles – with the Saxophone Group in the Chamber Music Section at the CBSO Centre, Birmingham, the Senior Woodwind Ensemble and the School’s Jazz Band gracing the stage of the Adrian Boult Hall, Birmingham Conservatoire. All three ensembles received glowing reports in their respective adjudications. Simon Platford the School’s Director of Performing Arts, praised all the hard work, commitment and dedication shown by all the Band members. He said that he was proud and delighted with the awards, which again provided evidence of the sustained success that had been achieved within the school. In particular I would single out the Brass Band – the band members in the last few months have all worked exceptionally hard since the beginning of the year and this particular award is very pleasing in the circumstances and is richly deserved. I would however, wish to take this opportunity of passing on my sincere congratulations to both Barrie Johnson (Northampton School for Boys) and to Lee Rigg (Wardle High School) on their respective Outstanding Performance Awards.